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Building Smarter Organizations SIKM February 2018



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Building Smarter Organizations SIKM February 2018

  1. 1. Building Smarter Organizations Gordon Vala-Webb SIKM Webinar February 2018 @BuildSmarterOrg
  2. 2. “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” Robert Brault @BuildSmarterOrg
  3. 3. I have worked in range of organizations in public, private and non-profit sections @BuildSmarterOrg 3 Brocksway Information Technology
  4. 4. To survive, our organizations need different capabilities @BuildSmarterOrg 4 Old world VUCA – Digital world Grow big Grow adaptable Reliably repetitive Radically responsive Control Predict
  5. 5. www.Dynamic #ChangeIsComing • Flows – not knowledge Stocks • Predictions / Bets – not Repeat • Nurturing – not Managing • Being Smart – not a Zombie @BuildSmarterOrg
  6. 6. What is going on? Some observations about our world @BuildSmarterOrg 6
  7. 7. Observation: work has been getting “smarter” Slide 7 Source: @BuildSmarterOrg
  8. 8. Observation • Unhappy, disengaged people • Command-and-control culture • Surprising number of psychopathic leaders @BuildSmarterOrg 8
  9. 9. VUCA-Digital world cc: frogthroat - “The Specter of an Accidental China-U.S. War” “Sears tanked because the company failed to shift to digital.” Observation:
  10. 10. Observation: Organizations face an obsolescence squeeze @BuildSmarterOrg 10
  11. 11. Observation: New things are a bet based on a prediction about what is the signal @BuildSmarterOrg 11 Classifying Experimental Designs Source:
  12. 12. What is the solution? Take the “Z” test @BuildSmarterOrg 12
  13. 13. www.Dynamic Fundamental solution: faster flow of information, ideas and decisions “For a finite-size system to persist in time (to live), it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier access to the imposed currents that flow through it.” Constructal law, Adrian Bejan 13@BuildSmarterOrg
  14. 14. Contrast Zombies organizations Slow flow, looking in and backwards @BuildSmarterOrg 14 Smart organizations – Fast flow, looking out and forward
  15. 15. What is a zombie organization? Take the “Z” test @BuildSmarterOrg 15
  16. 16. Flow constrictions: the “Z” test (click here) •Mindset •Communication •Decision-making @BuildSmarterOrg 16
  17. 17. “Z” test: Mindset @BuildSmarterOrg 17 Mindset True? Leadership prefers slogans to reality Most people here want to work somewhere else We rarely learn from our mistakes People do not trust each other much
  18. 18. “Z” test: Communication @BuildSmarterOrg 18 Communication True? Too many emails and other internal communications People do not know what is going on across our organization It’s hard for people to get useful feedback on their ideas
  19. 19. “Z” test: Decision-making @BuildSmarterOrg 19 Decision-making True? Coordinating work with people in other parts of the organization is hard Easy to get to a “No” decision - hard to get a “Yes” Meetings here are useless and unproductive
  20. 20. Mindset: “We rarely learn from our mistakes” “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Brené Brown @BuildSmarterOrg 20 Leadership By KetaDesign (
  21. 21. Communication: “Too many emails” Email by the numbers: 122 Number of emails a typical worker receives every day 28% Average work week consumed by emails 77 # times per day people check their emails @BuildSmarterOrg 21Rob Cottingham
  22. 22. One change, 125 different people, 700+ interactions @BuildSmarterorg 22 Gottfredson, M. (2012, June 28). “The focused company.” Bain & Company. Bain Brief. Retrieved from Decision-making: “Easy to get a no”
  23. 23. Poll: What’s your “Z” score? @BuildSmarterOrg 23 7+ EMERGENCY! 4-6 Danger 1-3 Congratulations
  24. 24. What is a “smart” organization? Situational awareness, rapid learning and maneuverability @BuildSmarterOrg 24
  25. 25. Being smart: Situational awareness To know where you are in a VUCA world you need: • Broad range of information • Fast sorting between signal and the noise • Precedents don’t help @BuildSmarterorg 25
  26. 26. Being smart: Rapid learning • Building and rebuilding models to understand the world • Learning through experimentation • Practicing unlearning @BuildSmarterorg 26
  27. 27. Being smart: Maneuverability Applying what you have learned is the key • Silo-based, top-down, incremental decision- making is SLOW • Pushed-down, cross- silo, decision-making with everyone engaged is critical @BuildSmarterorg 27
  28. 28. Flow constraints @BuildSmarterOrg 28
  29. 29. Flow constraint: Command-and-control culture (and disengagement) Do as I say Don’t think too much Don’t make mistakes Don’t be too different @BuildSmarterOrg 29
  30. 30. Flow constraint: Silos and zero-sum thinking “In a healthy system, information flows are unimpeded by clots of power or the sclerosis of hierarchy.” Philip Slater, The Chrysalis Effect Source: Din_Shah_Louvre_MAO776-Edit.jpg @BuildSmarterOrg
  31. 31. Flow constraint: Email! @BuildSmarterOrg 31 Memorandum to Secretary Walcott re: his son Stuart’s grave site; as found in “Evolution of the Memo, 1849-2011.” (2011, November 17). Smithsonian Institute Archives. Retrieved from Closed Connects few-to-few Random info structure
  32. 32. Mini-silos of disorganized emails you can’t find @BuildSmarterOrg 32 Morrison, A., Parker, B. (2011). “The collaboration paradox: More social information helps the workforce find what it’s looking for.” PwC Technology Forecast. Issue 3. Retrieved from Emailed Knowledge
  33. 33. Building smarter organizations Open mindset, fast-flow communications, and accelerated decision-making @BuildSmarterOrg 33
  34. 34. Three keys Open mindset 1 Fast-flow communications 2 Accelerating decision-making 3 @BuildSmarterOrg 34
  35. 35. 1) Open mindset @BuildSmarterOrg 35 Move to connected-and- contributing Mass spontaneous alignment Vulnerability is encouraged
  36. 36. Open mindset: zero-based thinking @BuildSmarterOrg 36
  37. 37. @BuildSmarterOrg 37 . . . Pull what and when you need info . . . Info and ideas are openly available . . . Working together in a document . . . Info has structure and context Source: 2) Fast flow communication: Enterprise networking platform
  38. 38. Fast flow communication: Making work visible @BuildSmarterOrg 38 95% Non-luminous
  39. 39. 3) Accelerating decision-making Downward flow, within a silo, known problems and opportunities Cross-silo decision flow for novel problems and opportunities Conversa- tionalists Testers Core team @BuildSmarterOrg 39 Source: Fishbrne, T. (n.d). “Helping GrowthCloud Communicate Ways To Grow With Their Clients.” Image. Retrieved from “How Employees Shaped Strategy at the New York Public Library” Bruce A. Strong and Mary Lee Kennedy HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW, DECEMBER 5, 2016 Source:
  40. 40. @BuildSmarterOrg 40 Accelerating decision-making: Spot the hot areas
  41. 41. Accelerating decision making: Decision management •Open platform •Decision managers •Frameworks and methods •Data sets •Training and coaching •Fast-flow communications
  42. 42. Changing thinking about change @BuildSmarterOrg 42
  43. 43. Shifting the equilibrium – polarity management Slide 43@BuildSmarterOrg Source: Koller, R. (n.d.). Oversimplifying Change Management. Blog post. Retrieved from
  44. 44. www.Dynamic “Those who are hostile attack like partisans” “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order” Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince @BuildSmarterorg 44
  45. 45. Influence: feeling creatures that think Slide 45 David Rock, “SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others”; NeuroLeadership Journal, 2008 Relative importance Error response Choosing Friend / foe Unfairness = threat @BuildSmarterOrg
  46. 46. Targeted effort: three Cs (Dave Snowden) Constraint management •Removing or creating Coupling / connecting •New connections Catalysts •Creating attractors 46 “The difficult tasks of the world must be handled through the simple tasks” Tao Te Ching @BuildSmarterOrg
  47. 47. “Try or try not. There is only do not with no try." Gordon Vala-Webb – Building Smarter Organizations 2016Slide 47 “Try or try not. There is only do not with no try."
  48. 48. Questions? @BuildSmarterOrg Available at bookstores and Amazon @BuildSmarterOrg 48