During a recent conversation, my good friend Adesuyi and I realized that there are some common reasons so many people have painful organizational experiences. The command and control leadership tactics; overemphasis on achieving organizational goals like meeting target bottom-line figures; reducing costs (for businesses) by all means necessary; neglecting the human spirit—it’s almost as though many organizations are designed to hurt the people who work in them. As our conversation unfolded, we discussed ways of helping create...
I volunteered to go with my daughter’s 5th grade class on a field trip to the Laguna Uplands Preserve. During this visit, the children had the opportunity to be in a natural outdoors classroom where they were able to collect samples and conduct scientific tests to learn about water quality and to identify macroinvertebrates. Identifying microscopic life might have been the learning objective from a traditional academic perspective. However, the lessons learned went beyond. In addition to observing, presenting and recording their...
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...
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