Steve Jobs, technology, liberal arts, innovation

Apple’s technology formula

Too often there is a chasm between the technology design and the user need. Technology alone is not enough.  Whether a business area or a consumer product, delight is a unique feature requirement. In 2011 Steve Jobs, hosted an iPad 2, special event and I take two great points within this three-minute and 11 second video clip: Technology married with the liberal arts or the humanities creates results that delight. Apple competitive advantage is that product architecture and the organization architecture that build the products align. Intuitive products rely on user objective, not technical wizardry. From an email to a presentation, we design for reaction, from communication to technology, the goal is reaction. Features and functions of the software, hardware, and applications need seamless integration to meet user objective, not technical architecture. The design function is the user objective. Function goes beyond the lab and into the environment objective. This video reminds me, again, about good …

more beautiful question, berger, book, Toby Elwin, blog

A More Beautiful Question by the book

People are born to inquire and to discover. Between two to five years old a child asks 40,000 questions.

Then we are taught to stop asking, stop seeking, and stop inquiring.

Questions are the fuel of curiosity.

Seems the concern is more about the answer and we have lost the patience for questions. Questions challenge authority. The impact: no questions, no innovation.

From the board room to a bored room, there is much to gain from Warren Berger’s new book, A More Beautiful Question.

orangutang, 2013, top post, Toby Elwin, blog

Top 10 blog posts for 2013, 10 to 6

Closing out 2013 I look back at the year’s most viewed posts with a chance to reflect on different blog topics that people most view, to include: change management, culture, project management, and mergers and acquisitions posts.

Did a topic near and dear to you finish in the top 10?

eddie obeng, TED, talk, fast changing world, Toby Elwin, blog

Fast Start — Smart failure for a fast-changing world

Fast Start conversation: The pace of change overtakes the pace of learning. In a short list of continually inspiring sites TED, stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, devotes themselves to ideas worth spreading. In this, I want to spread an inspiring talk and introduce you to someone I, before TED, was not aware of: Eddie Obeng. Mr. Obeng’s 12-minute presentation talks us through the world we learned that has transformed into a 21st century world of rules we have not yet grasped. Or, as he puts it other ways: “We spend our time responding rationally to a world which we understand and recognize, but which no longer exists.” “If you haven’t understood the world your living in, it’s almost impossible to be absolutely certain on what you are going to deliver fits” — Eddie Obeng Today, Mr. Obeng rightfully points out, our …

Frank Barrett, leadership, Appreciate Inquiny

Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz by the book

Frank Barrett, is an active jazz pianist leading trios and quartets as well as touring the United States, England, and Mexico with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

Frank Barrett, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Management and Organizational Behavior at the Naval Post Graduate school. Yes to the Mess is a journey through the power of music and the possibility of messiness. Frank correlates this mess to organization development, design, and possibility of innovation, managing highly-talented individuals, group communication, vision, and team dynamics.

Yes to the Mess is not just a book on jazz, but an organization behavior book, a leadership book, and a team development book.

Fast Start, blog, Toby Elwin, image:

Fast Start — Want Innovation? Diversify Thinking

Fast Start conversation:  Innovation really is more about style than substance. By now, diversity has to be realized as more than skin deep and more style over substance. In one study on innovation, when tasked to put innovative teams together it also reveals innovation is beyond the functional diversity of a team too. In Want Innovation? Diversity Thinking points to manage diversity to manage innovation. The pool of team member’s cognitive styles appear to influence team innovation above and beyond the functional variety represented by the team. Holistic, connective thinkers improve team innovation. To magnify a diverse group of cognitive styles, the author, Corinne Post, recommends to: Discourage logical, sequential routines; De-emphasize preciseness and exactness; and Move from existing, logical ways to problem solve Improve innovation when you improve style points:  cognitive style. So, how diverse was your last brain storming session?

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

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 …

facebook, employee engagement, wrong, Toby Elwin, blog

What’s wrong with employee engagement? Ask Facebook

Praise in public, scold in private. Many are coached on this. But what happens when a single manager’s lack of self-awareness meets the level of the Facebook video a father posted to his daughter? See video below?

What, you ask, can the paternal bond of a father and a daughter offer management? The situation, I witness far too often, is a manager’s tough love, just as a father hides behind, will snap an employee or co-worker back into line. The father in this video uses tough love and tough love seems a viable option in a far too many manager tool kits, as well.

change agent, bullseye, Toby Elwin, blog

Change agents are your organization’s real leaders

Market change, economy change, technology change, workforce change, communication change, today change riddles stress cracks in organization foundations. Whether 80-year-old companies, Fortune 500 stalwarts, or new-technology dynamos, change is as much an on-going assault on organizations as rust is an ongoing assault on metal. Change agents are your organization’s saviors. Tomorrow’s relevance is seen through your change agent’s lead. What is your organization’s relationship with change agents? How you and your organization treat change agents reveals as much about a dedication to relevance as it does about your organization’s relationship to market reality. Change agents seed organization with the thought-leadership and options for tomorrow’s relevance.  At even greater impact change agents tend, weed, fertilize, and till the soil that produces market fruits. Change agents, unfortunately, are also the ones with the figurative bulls-eye on their back. It’s not the strongest species that …

industry, myopia, asteroid, innovation, dinosaur

Organization innovation dies when industry myopia prevails

Industry myopia culls innovation. People who grow in one industry or cycle, through only one industry may seem safe to hire. Industry dinosaurs may fill a slot quicker or bring competitive advantage, but industry myopia rarely meets innovation need. Innovation needs to break things, to start over, and to view things from new angles. If you want to change thinking, change the thinkers, because you can not change if nothing changes. Industry myopia is business risk. Innovation Depends on Breaking Things New organization growth relies on fresh thinking and challenges the comfort of many.  A long-standing trend, out of step with today’s talent market, are job roles written to prioritize recruiting people with industry-specific experience at the cost of great technical skills. Organizations stress to managers, who in turn stress to their talent, the need for innovative thinking and entrepreneurial ways of doing things.  …

Fistful of beans 09/21/2011

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 …

Influence of The Modern Firm

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 …

Fistful of beans 05/11/2011

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 …

Fistful of beans 05/04/2011

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 …