Ask 1,500 CEOs what the greatest challenge their organizations face is and they’ll tell you it's complexity. We live in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world and leaders from every sector fear they are ill-equipped to meet the challenge. Frank Kern, senior vice president, IBM Global Business Services noted that the findings of their 2010 CEO survey reflect the reality that “the biggest challenge facing enterprises from here on will be the accelerating complexity and the velocity of a world that is operating...
Among the luminaries of Organizational Development, Stafford Beer’s contributions are many and relevant today. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that cybernetician was both the least academic of his peer group and one that put his methods into practice on a grand scale. If you’re not familiar with his work, you should be: his most notable legacy, the Viable Systems Model (VSM) remains one of the best examinations of why organizations do and don’t thrive. The VSM’s premise is that in order for...
What is place-based leadership? I’ve been asking that question since May of 2010, when I was invited to a dialogue session around the subject. Since that time I’ve been asked to give numerous presentations on place-based leadership, and at first I was nervous about it. Though I had found the subject compelling, it seemed wispy – not tangible like strategic planning, organizational design, or action research. My fears were unfounded: people consistently resonated with the concept of place-based leadership in...
Early in my consulting career I had the opportunity to assist one of our most senior consultants on a substantial project. My company had been asked to support the restructuring of a global Fortune 100 consumer products goods company. The company had decided to centralize the technology function by creating a shared services structure. Essentially, they removed the IT organizations from each business unit and created a matrixed structure with the IT executives responsible for the entire enterprise and smaller IT functions that reported...
At first glance Steven Denning’s new book struck me as offering revolutionary suggestions to organizational life-as-we-know-it: after all, it's called The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace. The workplace certainly needs to be reinvented—and Denning is a well-known author who has worked with many large organizations. Recently he and I teamed up to launch a study group of organizational leaders in New England to introduce radical management. It has a strong and important message. Yet,...
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