the who, be lucky, cares, Toby Elwin, blog

Be Lucky, Who Cares

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

Be lucky or be good.

In business luck is not a wise strategy.

In life, well lucky over good may win.

Here is a new Who song to celebrate 50 years in music and to show Who Cares, all royalties will go to Teen Cancer America, a most unlucky happenstance for all too many.

thinking, systems theory, book, meadows, Toby Elwin, blog

Systems as a current challenge

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods, Organization Behavior Leave a Comment

Systems theory and systems thinking relies on interface, feedback, organizational goals, input, throughput, output, differentiation, and integration. You can not remove or modify items in a system without effect on other actors in the system.

When thinking through solutions, it seems we forget a team, a department, or a division is a part of a larger system. If you think in problem solving mode, then your diagnostic needs to account for undesirable behavior characteristics are part of the system structures that produce them.

Lean, Sustainable, Supply Chain, Toby Elwin, blog

Lean Sustainable Supply Chain and change management

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

Early last year Robert Palevich, of Indiana University–Purdue University, contacted me to request my approval to cite my thoughts from the post Organizations don’t change, people change. This year The Lean Sustainable Supply Chain-How to Create a Green Infrastructure with Lean Technologies was released.  Select the above link for an Adobe Acrobat .pdf version or select the picture for a direct link to Amazon. It is a fascinating, and engrossing read, for anyone dealing with supply chain management, technology, lean philosophy, or a remote interest in globalized sustainability. Congratulations to Mr. Palevich and many thanks for finding my writing compelling enough to include. Though, truth-be-told, I think I forgot to return the consent form for citation so, therefore, became reduced to more of an allusion than a citation. Regardless, my congratulations stands. I recommend anyone working within and around supply chains, globalization, and sustainability to invest in yourself and invest in the time to read this. My former life as a production manager in China dealing with global supply chains led to fascinating reflections as I read this.

Organization Development, St. Louis Organization Development Network agenda, Toby Elwin, Social Media Fight Flight or Friend

Shifting Role of Organization Development in Business – St. Louis bound

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods 6 Comments

Next week I will speak at the 2012, STL-ODN Conference.  The day’s theme:  The Shifting Role of Organization Development in Business.  The entire day’s agenda for St. Louis Organization Development Network [for those not familiar with the ODN acronym] is a topic near dear to my heart. So, OD [either organization development or organizational development, choose your poison] and its role in business is the event.  Highly relevant, as we do live in times where if a professional can not directly affect business results there is little opportunity at the business table. The day’s events include impressive thinkers and topics: Dr. Ann Beatty, Donna Martin, and Seth Leadbeater offer perspective on Challenges Businesses are Facing in Today’s Climate Dr. Gary Mangiofico presents views on The Shifting Role of Organization Development in Business Rob Kaiser and Susan Duff incite a riot with 2 different views Does the Strength Based Approach to Leadership Development Work? Dr. Christian D. Boyd will present a session on Trust and Belonging: Practicing OD in Small, Non-Profit Organizations Your humble blogger, Toby Elwin, will run a concurrent session on Social Media: Fight, Flight or Friend Dr. Kristofer Fenlason, Leslee Small, and Dr. Kyle Lundby are a panel for the closing session How to Cultivate a Culture of Innovation I am honored for a spot in a lineup of a group of battle-tested professionals undaunted in our on-going struggle to help organizations and people develop excellence.  I can not imagine a better group of people to be around, to think with, and to learn from. Does organization development have a public relations issue?  A branding issue?  An academic …

Leap in the Dark, book, cover, Toby Elwin, blog

Recently finished book — A Leap in the Dark

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

Any talk about change management must start with stakeholder alignment. Quick on any change-rule-heels: risk identification. History provides truly great examples of change challenges and few, in my mind, resonate greater change management challenges than The American Revolution. The players: 13 colonies and their self-interests, as well as the class war within each colony; France, Spain, Great Britain; Native American Indians; commerce; and government as a few dynamics. If you think your enterprise has politics, reflect on some of the larger historical pivot points and the politics, people politics, involved. First rule of change: creating a compelling future-state. Well, the birth of the American Republic blows that change management keystone theory for a loop. I find that I go back to reread chapters with a change management hat on and try to keep track of the players, both the positive as well as the negative stakeholders and the communication obstacle course of nuances that many of today’s change folks can learn from. Constant stakeholder care and feeding is critical for change to take root and bloom. Fascinating when a nation is at stake.

Fistful of beans 09/21/2011

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

4 of things I’ve seen, read, or thought might seed results: 1.  Why being wrong is good for you — Most of us go through life assuming we are right, almost all the time, about pretty much everything:  our political, our values, our tastes, our religious beliefs, our view of other people, our memory, our version of facts. We can not all be right, if someone is right, that implies someone is wrong, and how can so many feel so right when, in reality, so many are so wrong?  Our ability to reach a conclusion is essential for us to know we are right or to prove we are right. But what do we go through when we are faced with being wrong?  When someone presents their clear-headed alternative to your conviction?  Being wrong is a sign of being a failure.  However, if we better embrace being wrong we better embrace how we learn, change, and develop.  Is it not an admirable trait to continually develop? 2.  On being wrong — Kathryn Schulz TED* Presentation 3.  Three Cheers for the Cheapeners and Cost-Cutters— Wall Street Journal Innovation without thought for cost can keep great ideas from adoption.  Being cost effective or cheap is as much a driver for innovation adoption.  The greatest impact of a new idea comes when it is cheap enough for many people to use and this economy of scale may take decades.  So, cost cutters, are as important as the original idea and, at times, cheapening provides more innovation than the original innovation. 4.  Patently absurd — The Economist The U.S. …

Fistful of beans 08/24/2011

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

3 of things I’ve seen, read, or thought might seed results: 1.   Bored People Quit — Rands in Response blog People who quit say:  “I don’t believe in this company.”  Bored people quit. The author of this post is neither an HR professional nor an organization development/behavior professional, this author simply manages people.  I say simply because a people manager’s primary job is people.  Managers manage people like it their job, not their nuisance.  This rather raw article is written by a manager who realizes bored people are the manager’s fault; his fault. I think of boredom as a clock. Every second that someone on my team is bored, a second passes on this clock. After some aggregated amount of seconds that varies for every person, they look at the time, throw up their arms, and quit. Take a read on how an active manager manages, how managing means maximizing resources, and the steps to dole out tough work and parse out the exciting work, as well. 2.  I’m OK, You’re Biased — The New York Times As the article points out: Consultants believe they can make objective decisions about the companies that indirectly employ them, just as legislators believe that campaign contributions don’t influence their votes. Doctors scoff at the notion that gifts from a pharmaceutical company could motivate them to prescribe that company’s drugs, and Supreme Court justices are confident that their legal opinions are not influenced by their financial stake in a defendant’s business, or by their child’s employment at a petitioner’s firm. What’s the solution to bias?  It looks like …

Influence of The Modern Firm

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

Organizations design success promotes relations:  relations of people within the firm, relations of strategic chioces within environmental features.  The modern firm serves to coordinate the actions of people and motivate groups of people to carry out activities. An individual’s self-interest presents on-going motivation challenges that compete against what an organization wants. Quick example:  someone with a fixed salary who works extra hard provides the firm with their gain from increased output generated.  The gains accrue to the firm, not the worker, whose salary does not change. Personal view competes with organization view and in that case, what happens? In, The Modern Firm: Organizational Design for Performance and Growth, by John Roberts, the design goal is to shape the organization to align interests of its members to increase efficiency of choices for the total organization value. Brief:  The most fundamental responsibility of a general manager is to craft strategy and design an organization where the strategy can succeed within the economic, political, legal, regulatory, social, and the technological environment the firm operates.  A direct challenge to the design is finding alignment within the environment. The right strategy or design is an ongoing process of adjustment as the environment changes, as the strategy develops, and as the organization evolves. Table of Contents: Strategy and Organization Key Concepts for Organization Design The Nature and Purpose of the Firm Organization for Performance Organizing for Growth and Innovation Creating the Modern Firm:  Management and Leadership Challenges Attraction:  I read this hardcover in 2003.  At the time I was about 4 years into the practice and study of strategy and organization design/development/behavior. Before this book, most of what I studied was driven by management theorists, their case …

Fistful of beans 05/11/2011

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods 2 Comments

4 of things I’ve seen, read, or thought might seed results: 1. Think About Diversity of Thought — Diversity Executive Magazine Organizations have cultural norms that employees are expected to work within.  Ideas presented by employees need become judged on value, not judged on the different perspectives they represent.  Thought diversity introduces not only different viewpoints, but also differences in approach and how individuals look at the world through that lens of experience. This diversity of thought then becomes both commercially valuable and helpful to the overall organization’s culture. In 2009 I had some thoughts around qualitative diversity and cognitive diversity when I wrote Diversity facade and Diversity facade, diversity hijacked.  Both originally inspired by a white paper I authored while at Deloitte Consulting. 2. New Efficiencies in Health Care? Not Likely — Wall Street Journal In this author’s experience of the British health care system all attempts to reduce bureaucracy increase it, and the same goes for cost.  This doctor takes a look at America’s current attempts and options discussed and compares these to what he has lived and worked within under the British system. On paper, prevention always seems much cheaper than cure. Health-care economists prove it very elegantly and convincingly over and over again. Unfortunately, the world always proves to be more complex and refractory than the theories of even the best economists. Though this is an editorial, it is not simply a rant, but well-presented ideas along innovation, policy, and circumstances any change battles with. A cautionary tale for any change agent. 3. Gone but Not Forgotten — CFO Magazine in the late 1990s online job boards had an appeal …

Fistful of beans 05/04/2011

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

4 things I’ve seen, read, or thought might seed results: 1. How Genius Works — The Atlantic Great art or innovation begins with an idea.  Sometimes the idea is vague or even simply a bad idea.  In this brief, The Atlantic looks into 17 of America’s foremost artists to discuss and find out about how genius comes through in their drafts. Paul Simon, Tim Burton, Bonnie Fisher, Frank Gehry, J Mays, Kate Mulleavy, and others across a wide berth of inventive disciplines may very well inspire us to realize genius has not short cut. 2. Innovation by HR — Human Resource Executive Online HR executives may not even be leveraging their HR expertise to really help drive innovation and growth. Though many in HR say they play a significant role to foster innovation at their organizations, since a large majority also report that performance evaluation for HR leaders wasn’t based, in any way, on the ability to foster innovation how can they tell? 3. The science of science — The Economist Albert Einstein’s original paper on special relativity had no references at all; even though it drew heavily on previous work. Despite academia’s pretensions to objectivity, academia is as subject to political considerations as any organizational effort.  Many authors cite colleagues, bosses, and mentors out of courtesy rather than that such citations are strictly required.  Rarely, an author may under cite. What is the Blei-Gerrish method and how have they found a method that may take science closer to a true ebb and flow of scientific ideas and offer a more scientific approach to science?  Well, a machine may be the …

Fistful of beans 04/27/2011

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

3 of things I’ve seen, read, or thought might seed results: 1. Too Big to Succeed? — CFO Magazine Citigroup, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase are the clear winners of the consolidation game.  Each of these, individually, have more than 2 times the assets of 4th-place Wachovia. These 3 banks have bet cross-selling and their scale give them advantage.  However, some critics wonder if the whole is smaller than the sum of its parts and that scale may not count much in financial services. 2. More Than Half the Moms Not Satisfied with Their Career — Talent Management Magazine Many working moms are not satisfied with their career.  Working moms also feel their work is more stressful than being a stay-at-home mom.  What might be the cause or the reason for this:  lack of work and life balance.  In a review of some surveys: 70% of respondents don’t have a flexible arrangement worked out with their boss; Almost 4 of 10  say motherhood takes a back seat to work responsibilities; and Besides pay and advancement, flexible work schedules and flexible arrangements are 2 factors in achieving career happiness for working mothers. What has positively affect working mother’s workplace perspective: 46% of working moms say they are more sympathetic to others’ needs/flexibility, 42% try not to sweat the small stuff, and 33% have become more patient 3. Girl Scouts censor Facebook criticism of palm oil in cookies — Clearly a cautionary tale in how not to manage an organization’s Facebook page or online community. From erasing user-generated comments to relying on a public relations department to manage your …

Fistful of beans 04/20/2011

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

5 things I’ve seen, read, or thought might seed results: 1. Scrap Learning and Manager Engagement — CLO Magazine Most organizations overlook an important aspect of development that often makes it many times more effective — manager engagement. Training tends to lose its power with time.  Employees forget what they’ve learned or let their newly acquired skills go unused. Robert O. Brinkerhoff, Ed.D., professor emeritus at Western Michigan University, said that after training, learners typically fall into one of 3 categories: They do not try to apply training. They attempt to apply it but realize no worthwhile results. They apply training and get some positive results. Managers have many of the same behavior-shaping tools to support and reinforce learning as parents and teachers do coaching and developing children. 2 actions are critical to develop an application-feedback learning loop, at best only a quarter of managers perform these tasks. 2. Foresight as a Leadership Attribute — Talent Management Magazine Vision is a coveted leadership qualities.  Vision is a much sought-after trait that allows leaders to guide their organizations and creates meaning and purpose. When vision is applied strategically it translates into practical plans and meaningful work. Attaining this critical skill often comes through the use of foresight. Foresight does not mean guessing about the future. Foresight is the identification of relevant opportunities emerging and strategizing how to make the most of them today. 3. Distractions to making learning stick — Make Training Stick blog, Barbara Cairns, PhD What if we all came to agree that multi-tasking is not an ability, but a liability?  That we really can only do one …

Accounting, Bailout, Bloomberg, Businessweek, toby elwin

Fistful of beans 04/13/2011

Toby Elwin Blog, Odds & Sods Leave a Comment

4 things I’ve seen, read, or thought might seed results: 1. Managing the Motivation Equation — Chief Learning Officer Leveraging motivation theory can reduce intention-action gap.  What is the intention-action gap?  Outside work the intention-action gap can be saying you will call you mother every Sunday, but rarely do.  At work the intention-action gap can be saying you intend to show up at work on time, but the majority of times you do not. Many organizations struggle to make learning stick, with the finances directed toward learning how can you resolve learners who find ways to do anything but learn?  Or to prevent learners from falling back into old habits because they lack motivation? Whenever an organization identifies a learning need, one of the first questions should be, “How will we motivate our learners to change?” The answers to this question must shape the entire training solution — its design, development, rollout and post-training support strategy. This article examines 2 distinct questions within the sphere of learning: How can we currently define motivation? How can we manage motivation within the learning function? Individually, when we understand motivation we can consciously choose to close the intention-action gap.  Organizationally, planning a motivation strategy before training allows trainers to detect motivation gap within individuals or a group. 2. Accounting for the Bailout — Bloomberg Businessweek If you had a back of the envelope to sketch out the Federal Reserve and Treasury’s potential return on their $2.8 trillion on the line here’s what it would look like. If you ignore the coffee stain, you see a tidy profit of $24 billion. 3. How to …