Posts from the “Organization” Category


Posted on July 14, 2017


Most organizations have routines, either formal or informal, to introduce changes into the environment. This if often cyclical with some form of stimulus, incubation, and strategic acceptance followed by tactical realization and new (or refined) activities in ongoing operations. Challenges arise when something breaks the continuity of the cycle. A critical leader leaves, the organization is overly insular, strategic decisions aren’t clearly cascaded to execution, incentives aren’t aligned, etc. When (not if) the cycle is interrupted, the key to exceptional performance is how quickly the cycle can pick back up. The longer the cycle stagnates, the more fuel it needs to restart. *

The Pixar Process

Posted on June 30, 2017


The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC had a fascinating Pixar exhibit in 2016. Getting a small peek into the work within the studio gives a real appreciation for the concepts (like simplexity) that are applied in the Pixar process: And how research, collaboration, and iteration wrap around Pixar’s story wheel: “…You are sure right about the importance of a good story in movies. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of work (and rework, and rework and rework) to get it right. And even then quite often we’re not 100% pleased. As John Lasseter likes to say, our films don’t get finished, they just get released.” –Pete Docter While they’re no slackers when it comes to research,…

Culture is Controllable

Posted on April 14, 2017


“Isn’t culture a byproduct of everything else we do?” a client asked this past week. “Won’t it just present itself?” My coaching: it’s not so fatalistic. Yes, it’s impacted by what you do. But what you do should be impacted by your intentional cultural choices. What you talk about, how punctual you are, what you react to (what you don’t), what you measure, frequency of routines, etc. Let your culture infuse everything else, don’t let it just happen. *


Posted on October 21, 2016


Some drive-through restaurants utilize off-site locations to receive orders – the speaker by the menu board is run through a call center team, and orders are routed electronically to a screen in the restaurant. You don’t actually interact with someone at the restaurant location until you get to the pick-up window. The ability to distribute process activities across physical locations has been convincingly demonstrated. You can decouple activities and geography, people from organization reporting lines, processes from technology, and products from sales channels. It’s an opportunity and a challenge to appropriately balance the dimensions. I once had a social conversation with a business executive who could not understand the difference between television content (shows) and television networks (channels). It’s no wonder some companies go…

Alignment versus Consensus

Posted on August 5, 2016


There’s a subtle but important difference between consensus and alignment in organizations. Consensus feels safe, but it can take herculean efforts to reach outliers, sway resistors and convince skeptics on the way to agreement. Alignment is more about arrangement and positioning. Sometimes you don’t need people to agree, you need them to align…just enough to move forward. *

Turning the Crank

Posted on January 22, 2016


They’re turning the crank, one of my former bosses said frequently when waiting for materials. He meant the administrative wheels were in motion. All the things that happen behind the scenes to meet a need, respond to a request or fight figurative fires were happening. We gave him credit for recognizing the work required to bring ideas to life – the hours of inputs and the various dependencies to produce a report or service a meeting or satisfy a client, often unseen – like the underwater mass of an iceberg keeping it afloat. His peers didn’t always get it. Too many requests, scenarios and philosophical debates filled the management gears, each requiring layers upon layers of work. The executive request cascades to a management team and…

Larry Page’s Rules for Management

Posted on November 1, 2015


Larry Page’s rules for management are interesting in isolation, and in the context of Google’s evolution: Don’t delegate: Do everything you can yourself to make things go faster. Don’t get in the way if you’re not adding value. Let the people actually doing the work talk to each other while you go do something else. Don’t be a bureaucrat. Ideas are more important than age. Just because someone is junior doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect and cooperation. The worst thing you can do is stop someone from doing something by saying, “No. Period.” If you say no, you have to help them find a better way to get it done. Asked about his approach to running the company, Page once told a Googler his…