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The Heart of Organizational Excellence


In times of increasing competition in the marketplace, organizational excellence or performance is ever more important. But what does ‘organizational excellence or performance’ actually entail? What does it mean? And how can it be achieved? And, even more important, why does it matter?

I believe that there are three drivers for and to organizational excellence and performance. (1) delighting your clients, (2) building a happy workplace, and (3) sustaining business value. Let’s have a look at each one of these drivers to get a better understanding of what’s behind them.

The three drivers of organizational excellence

(1) Client delight

hand_thumbs_up_cuff_15176Say, you have been staying at a hotel. The hotel was decent, your room was clean and spacious, breakfast was good and they even served some fresh fruits. On a scale from 1 = bad to 10 = excellent you may give this a hotel a 5 or 6 rating. You were satisfied. But you were not fascinated or delighted in a way that you would recommend this hotel to your peers, closest friends or family members.
The next time you visit the same city you are staying in a different hotel. This time it is a completely different story. The check-in runs smoothly, everything has been prepared for you, the room is just as clean as it was in the other hotel. But there is something special about this hotel. It could be the location, the architecture, the furniture, the people working there and serving you.   No doubt, you are willing to return to this hotel. And even more so, you will probably recommend this hotel to your peers, closest friends and family members.

In the first example you were a satisfied customer. In the second example you were delighted. Which hotel do you think will have a better business outlook?

When running a business you have a choice. You can do the bare minimum to satisfy your customers or you decide to go the extra mile and delight your customers. In either case the prerequisite is that you know who your customers are. As self-explanatory as this is, there are a lot of companies that seem to have forgotten whom they really serve.

Another question every business should be able to answer is whether or not it wants to build customers for life or only for the short-term. What is more important quick, short-term profits or a long and outstanding customer relationship with long-term, sustainable profits which may yield less quick wins but greater pay offs in the long run?

And what about the customer’s perspective? Which company do you want to do business with. One which treats you like a number, a resource or a sole revenue source. Or a company that reaches out to you, seeks to understand and satisfy your needs, communicates with you, walks in your shoes and shows a sincere interest in you? – Client delight is about the second company.

(2) A happy workplace

group_jumping_up_400_clr_12574Most companies speak of their employees as assets. This sounds good and wonderful. But then, ‘assets’ for what? Are the employees just resources that add up to a bigger picture, the companies outcome, products and services? Unfortunately, most average companies fall into this category. This is not to say that treating people as human resources or human machines is advisory. Especially not if you are interested in organizational excellence and performance. Yes, you can train and treat them like machines, push them to their limits, get the most out of them – for some time, until they are either burnt out or leave your company. You replace them and start the process anew.   You may be interested and actually achieve employee satisfaction. However, this is not to be mistaken with inspired, motivated and performing employees who enjoy their work because they can identify with the purpose of the company, love working with their colleagues and serving their customers, are passionate about their work and enjoy a safe, secure workplace.

Companies can build such a workplace. Just as knowing the needs of their clients they have to show a sincere interest in the needs of their employees. It starts with a safe, secure and environmentally friendly work environment. For employees to follow a direction you have to set it, share it and let your employees contribute to it. Let them become a part of it.

A happy workplace does not mean that you have to do everything just to please your employees without expecting anything in return. Of course not. But you have to provide or at least build an environment where they can prosper and perform at their best. A first start is that you don’t treat employees as resources but as people, as human beings.

(3) Business value

Growth curveThe former CEO of General Electrics, Jack Welch, describes the call for maximizing shareholder value as the dumbest idea in the world. Other describe it as corporate cocaine. In either way, the bottom line is that shareholder value is not identical to business value.

Think about the following: you want to invest into a company, or even better, you want to acquire a company. What do you look at? Just the present stock price and its outlook? Of course not. You take a number of factors into account: the overall business performance and outlook, customer satisfaction ratings, market position, innovation performance, the skillset and turnover rate of the workforce, the attractiveness of the company as an employer of choice and many other factors. But how come most companies these days just talk about satisfying shareholder interests and maximizing shareholder value?! Shareholder value is the result of a well-run business and not the other way around. Hence, treating shareholder value as the purpose and driver of your business is not smart but myopic and can even be detrimental to the value of your business. From a business perspective, it is plain stupid.

The sweet spot of organizational excellence

The sweet spot of organizational excellence is where all three drivers outlined above come together. If you depict the three drivers as three circles, it is the area where all three drivers overlap that you can spark organizational performance and excellence.

Venn Diagram - Org. Excellence

 

This is not a one-time effort. You have to continuously improve your own performance to stay in this sweet spot. In this sense, continuous self-improvement can be considered a fourth driver of and for organizational excellence. It adds a dynamic dimension to organizational excellence. Rather than a static Venn diagram with three circles we can depict this as a Möbius circle.

neutral Leadership Cycle of Organizational Excellence

 

The bigger the overlapping areas of all three drivers, the better organizational performance is. This implies that in order to develop organizational performance you have to take all four drivers into account. This holistic view requires leadership, a specific mindset, philosophy and practice. It is not solely driven by short-term gains but balances long-, mid- and short-term needs and goals. It is has a clear customer and people focus and nurtures an open innovative culture.

It is this leadership which I will write about in my next blog post. Stay tuned.

Posted in: Creative Economy, Leadership

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Volkswagen’s greed and myopia is just the tip of the iceberg


Volkswagen has shown how greedy and myopic traditional management in corporations is: short-term projects (shareholder interests, EBIT) are more important (or, shall we say the only thing that really matters to them) than delighting customers and our environment.
Volkswagen management claims that they will resolve the issues and regain our confidence. Really?! I seriously doubt it, for how credible is it when they claim that they change their mindset overnight?! Volkswagen has annihilated the trust of its customers and the public. Not too surprising, top management and whoever ordered the betrayal may just be viewed as a bunch of liars and possibly criminals and should be treated as such.

What could Volkswagen do?

  1. First of all, acknowledge that it cannot “fix” an internal, systemic and structural problem overnight.
  2. Second, listen to your customers and the public and our needs and those of the next generation (talking about environment concerns).
  3. Third, work on a credible and sustainable strategy how to regain our trust, acknowledging that this will take years if not decades.

Volkswagen’s Outlook?

One thing is for sure, the future of Volkswagen is uncertain. Shame on those managers who caused this. Instead of insisting on their bonuses, they should waive them and give to a fund to save work places who those who don’t get fat bonuses.
Alas, there is a good thing about Volkswagen and actually this is something we should be grateful for: We have been made aware that as consumers we have choices. Nobody forces us to buy Volkswagen. And, a crisis for Volkswagen is a chance for innovation. It is up to Volkswagen, whether or not it wants to be part of this future. There is a chance, yes, and it starts with listening and learning. Good luck!

Read Steve Denning’s analysis of Volkswagen’s crisis here.

Posted in: Creative Economy, Project failure, Sustainability

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HIP Camp 2015 – More than a conference


I have been talking about HIP Camps for awhile.  It was a dream, an idea, a plan.  No longer: it will become reality.

Join us for the first HIP Camp Social Business this summer in Heidelberg.  Check for updates on this site or our Facebook page.  Seats are limited.  So register today and be part of an exciting and unique experience growing ideas for social change into actual social businesses.

 

 

Posted in: HIP Camp

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Business 7.0 – An enlightening, inspirational, motivational book for tomorrow’s leaders


the next wave in businessThere are countless books on leadership and change management. Most of them have in common that they propose a specific way how to achieve performance and accomplish change. Alas, our world around us, business and we, ourselves, have changed.

The traditional linear mechanical model of leadership has become outdated.

In order to understand the leadership we need today and tomorrow, begin by grasping the now, the present, accept it and let go and thus create the necessary space for things to unfold. Tomorrow’s leadership is not so much steering as creating, unfolding and shaping the space for potential development of individuals, teams, organizations and businesses.

A journey to a holistic, fresh leadership culture

In his new book “The Next Wave in Business” Stefan Götz outlines the pitfalls and blind alleys of old mechanical leadership philosophies. He takes his readers on a journey to a holistic, fresh leadership culture.

The book begins with a snapshot of the many ills in our economy and environment which stifle innovation and long term development opportunities. Stefan Götz guides the reader on the way to business 7.0 which focuses on unfolding our true potentials.

The book is enlightening as well as sobering because of its honest and unsparing description of traditional business. The book’s clear structure and orientation towards holistic management and business 7.0 makes it inspiring and motivating. It is a must-read for everyone who doesn’t understand leadership as a blind, Machiavellian posturing, but want to make and leave a positive impression in society and in the economy.

Share the message and become a fan

Stefan Götz’ book is available as an eBook in English and a print-edition in German.  In order to reach a wider audience Stefan Götz wants to publish a print-edition in English, too. For this purpose he wants to start a crowd funding campaign raising money to launch the print-edition.  The money will be used for typesetting, editing, cover design, PR work and marketing.  For the crowd funding campaign to start he needs at least 100 fans.  Please visit https://www.startnext.com/en/the-next-wave-in-business-book for details and support this unique project.

 

 

Posted in: Book Recommendations, Leadership

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4 simple questions that can help boost team spirit, performance and results


Every morning our team got together for our morning stand-up session.  It had become a daily routine.  The structure of these 15-minutes standups was simple: we reflected on our accomplishments of the previous day, our planned deliverables of the new day and any impediments we were facing and for which we were asking for help from within the team or outside.

More than a normal team sync session

This routine is common to many other teams.  What made our daily standups special was that we added a fourth element.  Once every team member talked about his or her accomplishments, planned deliverables and inquiries for help, he or she shared what would make him or her happy that very day.  This could be anything the team member deemed valuable.  For example, a desired outcome of a meeting, a report, a breakthrough idea, or an evening activity may it be sports, dinner, cinema or anything else.

Silly? No. Inspiring? Yes.

In the beginning adding this fourth element in our daily standups felt odd and, to some of us, even funny and silly.  Then, slowly things changed.  Sharing your personal desired happiness moment of the day by itself was special.  What made it unique was that every team member was listening to the others.  Knowing about what my teammates would make them happy, gave me a better understanding what moved them.  Then there were the happiness moments where my daily goal was to make my teammates happy, i.e., help them achieve their happiness moment.  This could be that I took over some of their work so that they could leave on time for their date in the evening.  Or, helping them prepare a session.  In either way, making my teammates happy, increased my own happiness even more.  And this showed in my own work, performance, mood and, last but not least, results.

Adding the fourth, decisive fourth question to your daily standup’s

Next time when you conduct your daily standup with your team, suggest to add a fourth question.  That is answer the following questions:

  1. What have I accomplished since yesterday (or the last standup meeting)?
  2. What do I plan to accomplish today (or until the next standup meeting)?
  3. What impediments do I face or see? Where do I need help?
  4. What makes me happy today?

Is it that simple? Yes, it is. Try it for a couple of 1-2 weeks and find out by yourself.  Of course, as always it is your choice to be happy or unhappy.

Posted in: Centeredness, Happiness

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The Difference Between Focus and Tunnel Vision


tunnel-vision-01‘One more click, save the file and then close it.’ This is what I thought and did.  Or so I thought.  Because, did I really?  A few moments later my computer gave me the error message, “file upload not possible”.  Oops. What happened?
The last two hours my team and I were working on a project plan for the next six weeks.  It was a really creative and productive meeting.  Spirits were high. Not only could we reflect on our past accomplishments of the last three weeks.  We also had a clear picture of what we wanted to achieve the next couple of weeks.  In order to save time, we captured all planned work packages in an Excel file on a big screen for everyone to follow.  Once our session was finished I did some minor cosmetic changes to the file, saved it (or thought I did) and then closed it.  But, things did not go as planned. – Soon I found out that not only was the file not uploaded to our server, but it was nowhere to be found on my local computer.  If you ever worked on a file for a long time and then had to find out that the work of the past hour or so was erased, well, let’s put it this way: it does not make you happy.  So, this is where I was yesterday.  When I realized the dilemma I called our local IT support and asked for help.  Gee, I had no idea how these folks can be so calm and patient in moments like these.  They listened, asked some questions, guided me through some procedures on my computer.  And then – nothing.  The file could not be found.  Sh…t.  Furor and frustration grew in me rapidly.  ‘How was this possible?! I saved the file before I closed it.’ The next 2 hours I continued sorting through all the files I touched yesterday.  Time stood still.  The more I searched the more my frustration vanished.  And was replaced by resignation.

What does this story have to do with ‘focus’?  A lot.  In the moment of ‘crises’, if you want to call the described dilemma, I completely concentrated on this one file, the product of two hours of work.  I tried everything technically possible to retrieve it.  And I lost time for other, more productive and creative things.  When it became clear that the file was lost, I should have stopped looking for it.  This is hard at times, very difficult indeed. Facing the unquestionable truth often is.  And yet, it may be the only thing to do.
What I mixed was ‘focus’ and ‘tunnel vision’.
The only thing I could think of was this one file, the energy it absorbed to create it and the frustration I felt when I was afraid that I lost this piece of work.  I did not look left or right.  As a result, I did not only lose the file I also relinquished valuable time for other things.  The 2-3 hours I spent searching for the file could have been used to re-do the work.  As a matter of fact it would have taken me probably only around 45 to 60 minutes.  I may not have been happy about this extra work.  But possibly even improving it.  And I could have done something else afterwards.  Learn from my technical incapabilities and move on.

Learning to focus

clarityToo often when we focus on something we completely phase out our surroundings.  Losing sight of the bigger picture.  We are trapped in our tunnel vision.  We think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  But actually it may only be a remnant of our imagination.  When you want to or need to focus, do so with a peripheral vision.  Relax, breathe, become aware of what’s happening around you, then start your work.  But not without closing your eyes, ears and senses for your surroundings. Be present and focused at the same time. It is not a contradiction; it is a help and path to a fuller awareness, concentration, more productive and meaningful work and happiness.

So, what happened with my lost file?  I never found it again. Luckily I had a printout of the table my team and I were working on.  Retyping the file we actually found a number of mistakes, shortcomings and gaps we did not recognize earlier.  We corrected them in no time and after less than an hour we had a new, corrected and actually better project plan.

Posted in: Centeredness, Miscellaneous

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Why ‘Job Satisfaction’ May Be The Wrong New Year’s Resolution


As the new year is just around the corner it’s this time of the year many of us come up with glorious (or not so glorious) New Year’s Resolutions.  Unfortunately, most of these don’t last long.  Makes you wonder how sincere they were in the first place.  Excuses vary from “it was not the right resolution”, to “I was just too busy” and “my job doesn’t allow me the space for my resolution”.  And there are many other excuses.  And they are just that:  “excuses”.

But what a resolution which may very worth the investment?!  Let me suggest one which I strongly believe in.

Don’t be misled by the lofty goal of “Job Satisfaction”

We all have to work.  However, how many of us are really happy with and in their job?  Does your job merely satisfy your needs?  Do you like it?  If so, what is it that you like?  Is the people, the environment, the salary, other perks?

Job satisfaction is definitely something worth striving for.  And I believe that every employer should care about its employees being satisfied with and in their jobs.  For, if not, performance is likely to suffer resulting in poorer productivity, lower quality, dissatisfied customers, less sales and hence profits. It is a spiral downward.

However, job satisfaction is not enough!  Satisfaction is great, at first sight.  But then it is just that “satisfaction”, it is enough, mediocre, average, far from better or even best. Why should “average” be sufficient?! It is not.  What to do instead?

Happy 2015Create a happy workplace!

As an employer, find out what makes your employees happy.  Not solely in the sense of pleasure.  Happiness is much more than that.  It involves passion for doing something or being with other people or in a specific environment.  It involves purpose, i.e., something people can relate to and identify with.  People know why they are doing something and they believe in it. They share a common purpose.  They are driven by it.  Hopefully, this purpose coincides with the purpose and mission of your company or organization.  If not, well, you may have a problem or two along the horizon (meaning de-motivated employees).
These days it is no longer sufficient to hire people and expect them fully believe and support the purpose or mission of your company.  If you want to attract and retain talents you have to find out what drives, what motivates them.  What makes them happy.

As an employee, what do you love about your job? What makes you happy?  If you don’t have a happy workplace, of course, you could go to your boss and ask for help.  But, hey, it is your life.  Rather than looking for outside help, start with yourself.  What drives you day in day out? What are you passionate about? What gives you pleasure?  And how can you bring this into your job, where you can find it?

Hence, here is my suggested New Year’s Resolution:

Create a happy workplace!

P.S.:  Here’s a link to a related article.

Posted in: Happiness

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This Season Give Yourself One of the Greatest Gifts Possible


Holiday Season – It’s the time of the year when we spend extra time with our beloved ones, family and friends, celebrate, exchange gifts, having a wonderful time.  And be happy.

What is it that makes us happy?  Is it the special time of Christmas?  Or is the moments where we make other people happy that give us this special kick?  Or is the many little things that make us happy, that make these days truly special?

Personally, I think it is the combination of these things.  And more?  Whatever it is, enjoy it, live it, feel it, be actively aware of these special moments, be and live in the present to the fullest.

And then, go a step further and ask yourself how you can carry this spirit to tomorrow, next week, next month and next year.  I am not talking about developing a big new year’s resolution – which most people tend to forget after a few days anyway.  I am talking about a simple, yet possibly disturbing, life-changing and at the same time exciting thing:  being yourself.

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/when-you-start-being-yourself-these-10-amazing-things-will-happen.html?fb_action_ids=10152654440889315&fb_action_types=og.shares

When You Start Being Yourself, These 10 Amazing Things Will Happen

When you start being yourself, amazing things will happen.  Not for last, you will be happier.  Explore yourself, be.

Then share your experiences.  Create the space for others to find and accept themselves. This way you, too, can contribute to making others happier.  And this in return will make you even happier.

Simple? Yes. But who says that happiness has to be difficult to find.  It’s already here.

Happy Holidays!

 

Posted in: Centeredness, Happiness, Institute

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How to Effectively Lead While Running Multiple Projects


Project leadership can be a complicated responsibility, especially when you’re managing multiple ventures at once. It’s important to think proactively and plan ahead to realize success. Gain a solid understanding of the leadership qualities needed to motivate your team and keep them inspired. Learn to delegate effectively, assigning the best possible people to complete each task.

Get Organized

Organization is key when managing multiple projects simultaneously. As the leader of the initiative, it is your responsibility to know the deadlines and goals associated with each project and ensure all activities stay on track. Meet with team members frequently for status updates, so you know exactly where each project stands. Pay close attention to how team members are working with one another to gauge the group dynamic.
It’s inevitable that you’ll incur roadblocks and unanticipated changes along the way, so prepare for these issues in advance. Coach your team on ways to manage change, so they’ll have the ability to effectively cope with potential setbacks and turn them into positive adjustments. Schedule regular meetings with stakeholders to provide updates and communicate changes.

Motivate Your Team

The motivation of team members has the ability to make or break the success of an entire project. It’s your job to lead by example, setting a positive tone for the entire group. When initially distributing assignments, make sure each person has a solid understanding of their responsibilities and your expectations. Ask for feedback and listen to all suggestions, as having a stake in the project allows a team member to feel a sense of ownership.
Maintain a high level of involvement in the project process and regularly acknowledge employees’ positive contributions, as people are motivated by praise. Help your team solve problems and stay focused on their tasks. Create a culture of communication, where people feel comfortable coming to you with questions. When changes need to be made, approach the situation carefully, explaining the need for the adjustment and the benefits it will bring. This can help team members maintain their sense of purpose.

Delegate Responsibilities

An effective leader doesn’t try to control every aspect of the project. Put your trust in employees by delegating assignments out to create a sense of shared responsibility, build trust, save time, increase skills and conserve resources. Make your expectations for each assignment clear and be sure each person understands the importance of their tasks. Provide feedback to let people know how they’re doing, allowing them to learn and grow. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised at what your team can achieve when given the freedom to reach their potential.
Staying organized, learning to effectively motivate team members and properly delegating responsibilities is the key to successful project leadership. When you lead your team the right way, you’re able to manage multiple projects at once without a hitch. Take the time to develop a system that works for your team and you’ll realize results you never thought possible.
Marwa Hijazi | University Alliance | Notre Dame

Marwa Hijazi writes about business topics related to leadership and management on behalf of University Alliance, a facilitator of leadership and management programs online.

Posted in: Guest Blogs, Leadership

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Applying Leverage Points for Greater Project Success


Project, program and portfolio management are people intensive activities, subject to personalities, differing agendas, and misunderstandings. Successful managers are those who, while not immune from these challenges, correctly assess and determine how to navigate political minefields. Personal case studies, along with examples from other people and industries, provide a proven means, first to accept that these challenges will arise, and second to work through them and achieve desired outcomes.

balance_bar_tipped_400_clr_6313Leverage points are activities within a complex system where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything. This idea is embedded in legend: the silver bullet, the trim tab, the miracle cure, the secret passage, the magic password, the single hero who turns the tide of history, the nearly effortless way to cut through or leap over huge obstacles. We want to know where they are and how to get our hands on them. Leverage points are points of power.

An example in the physical world:  trim tabs are small surfaces connected to the trailing edge of a larger control surface on a boat or aircraft, used to control the trim of the controls—to counteract hydro- or aerodynamic forces and stabilize the boat or aircraft in a particular desired attitude without the need for the operator to constantly apply a control force. This is done by adjusting the angle of the tab relative to the larger surface. This reduces the work of the engine by reducing the amount of manual control necessary, as well as providing for greater efficiency by keeping the ship in the ideal orientation for the conditions.

What is the equivalent trim tab [leverage points] in the world of people and relationships? L2M2:  Leadership, Learning, Means, and Motivation. Examples where these “forces” apply include:

  • Speaking truth to power
  • Getting past resistance to achieve results
  • Working through a difficult encounter
  • Applying controlled anger
  • Negotiating with reluctant stakeholders
  • “Selling” and implementing a new process

The simple model of key leverage points—L2M2—may perhaps be sufficient as a recipe for greater project success. All four factors are necessary for this recipe to succeed:

Leadership is a well-articulated communication from the organization of what kind of new behavior is required and why it is required, along with a road map of the change that will take place over time.

Learning is the process of supplying the knowledge and skill necessary for individuals to carry out new behaviors. It includes learning support from the PMBOK, project leadership, and business skills, etc..

Means are all the resources necessary to carry out the behaviors, including tools, organizational policies and structures, and time.

Motivation is the formal and informal system of incentives and consequences that reinforce new behaviors. These are differentiated by role so that the required role-based behaviors are supported in all parts of the organization.

Behavior begins to change when all four factors work in concert. Without Leadership, people will not know how to apply their new knowledge and skill in concert with business strategic and tactical objectives. Without Learning, people may know what they are supposed to do from Leadership, but not know how to do it. Without Means, people may know what to do and how to do it, but not have the tools and resources to carry it out. Without Motivation, people may know what leaders want, and how to do it, and have the resources to carry it out, but simply not bother to do it.

Challenges present themselves on every project and program. An attitude of acceptance is required to get past initial paralysis and/or frustration, then to assess, design, and apply an action plan. Base actions on leverage from L2M2.  Foremost, a belief in ability to prevail is required. An individual’s positive attitude that today is a good day and tomorrow will be even better provides the means to embrace and implement leverage points.

It is important to focus on people, relationships, values, and skills. Modify an approach depending on the situation, always knowing there are patterns in how nature and people respond. Tap leverage points in those patterns as a means towards greater project success. Changing a mindset to embrace change or a new approach may perhaps be the simplest and most powerful leverage point for an individual to implement. Apply a key phrase:  “I can think differently about this.”

Examples and a paper on this topic are available from the PMI Global Congress North America 2014.

Randall L. Englund, Englund Project Management Consultancy, www.englundpmc.com

Posted in: Guest Blogs, Leadership, Project Management

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