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automobile-car-interior-control-counter-110990Business dashboards are important tools to measure key performance indicators and data pertaining to an organization or certain procedure.  Just as a vehicle dashboard is powerful performance management tool in summarizing a performance of a multitude of processes, a business dashboard summarizes the performance or impact of a host of functions, teams, and activities; and assists in strategic planning and decision making.

Business dashboards simplify sharing and analysis of large data, and help users visualize complex performance data in simple yet visually aesthetic manner.  Dashboards aid in simplifying complex processes into smaller more manageable information pieces for the organizational leadership to focus on everyday operations.  They keep everyone on the same wavelength and prioritize display of facts based on their importance and potential impact.  The information on a well-designed dashboard is clear, presentable to enhance meaning, readily accessible, and dynamic.  A carefully-planned dashboard allows the leadership to identify and answer business challenges in real-time, develop plan of action based on insights, and inculcate innovation.

Proficient and capable dashboard designers and firms have taken the art of visualization of valuable indicators and insights through dashboards to the next level.  They have devised specific guiding principles, dos and don’ts, and time-tested development routines to accomplish this.  These guiding principles comprise 10 best practices, which can be segregated into 3 major implementation categories:

  1. Planning

  • Analyze your audience
  • Contemplate display options
  • Prompt application loading time
  1. Design

  • Exploit eye-scanning patterns
  • Restrict number of views & colors
  • Let viewers filter data
  • Ensure proper formatting 
  1. Refinement

  • Use Tooltips to reinforce story
  • Eliminate redundancy  
  • Review the dashboard carefully

Let’s discuss the first 5 best practices for now.

Analyze your audience

A careful analysis and understanding of the business dashboard’s intended audience is the first important principle to consider before commencing the development of such a dashboard.  For instance, a busy salesperson in need of quickly going through indicators, whereas senior management needing a deep-down review of quarterly sales results.  This gives the developers a thorough idea of what the audience wants from a dashboard, what data they will visualize utilizing this, and let them know the audience’s technical capabilities in terms of data analysis, theme, issue, and business understanding.

Contemplate display options

The second principle to follow in designing a business dashboard is to research your users’ device and display preferences beforehand.  Building a dashboard with desktop display options in mind when your audience prefers to use phones to view it could be a disaster.  The designers should set the size of the dashboard properly—allowing the users to view it on a range of devices, by building in automatic sizing option for the dashboard to adopt to the dimensions of the browser window.

Prompt application loading time

Your audience and viewers are busy people who hate long waits.  Therefore a stunningly designed dashboard would not get the right traction if it takes too much time to load.  The dashboard author should facilitate prompt dashboard loading by deciding which filters to add in the dashboard and which ones to exclude.  For instance, although filtering is useful in restricting the amount of data analyzed, it effects query performance.  Some filters are quite slower than others as they load all of the data for a dimension instead of just what you want to keep.  Knowing the Order of Operations is also beneficial in reducing the load times.

Exploit eye-scanning patterns

The dashboard authors should have a deep sense of the main purpose of the dashboard in mind when develop such a tool.  They need to be aware of individuals’ eye tracking patterns—typically when most people look at a screen or content, they start scanning the upper left hand corner of the screen first by intuition—and make the best use of the screen space to display the most important content at the right place.

Restrict number of views & colors

The designers often get over enthusiastic during their application designs and try to stuff the dashboard with multiple relevant views.  This is detrimental for the bigger picture.  They must include not more than 2 to 3 views per dashboard and create more dashboards in case the scope creeps beyond the 2-3 views range.  It is also crucial to ensure the content to be clearly visible to the viewer and to use colors correctly to facilitate analysis instead of cramming too many colors in the visuals, which creates a graphical overload for the viewers, slacken analysis (or may even prevent users to analyze data), and even blur the graphics.

Let viewers filter data

Allowing users to filter the data is another best practice to keep in mind while designing business dashboards.  This added interactivity encourages data assessment and permits the users to have their most important view act as a filter for the other views in the dashboard.  This helps in conducting side-by-side analysis, promotes involvement, and retains users’ interest.

Interested in learning more about the other best practices to aid in designing a robust business dashboard and knowing the most common mistakes to avoid in this process?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Business Dashboard Design here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Companies often know where they want to go when it comes to Strategy Development. Companies want to be more agile, quicker to react, and pic 1 Next-gen Operating Modelmore effective. They want to deliver great customer experience, take advantage of new technologies to cut costs, improve quality and transparency, and build value.

Yet, while most companies are trying to get better, the results tend to fall short. One-off initiatives in separate units do not deliver big enterprise-wide impact. Improvement methods that were adopted almost invariably yield disappointing results.

Senior leaders have a crucial role to take in making things happen. Business Transformation cannot be a siloed effort. A Next-generation Operating Model is essential to break through organizational inertia and trigger step-change improvements.

Understanding the Next-gen Operating Model

Companies need to commit to a Next-gen Operating Model if they want to build value and provide compelling customer experiences at a lower cost.

pic 2 Next-gen Operating Model

  1. Integrated, Organization-wide Operational Improvement Program. This approach is focused on Customer Journeys and distinctive customer experience. The Integrated, Organization-wide Operational Improvement Program is a holistic approach towards how operations can contribute to delivering distinctive customer experience. It cuts across organizational siloes in both customer-facing and end-to-end processes. This approach is a preferred organizing principle. Having multiple independent initiatives within separate organizational groups can deliver incremental gains. However, the overall impact can be underwhelming.
  1. Holistic Customer Journey. This is an approach that makes use of multiple capabilities instead of individual capabilities to achieve greater impact.

The holistic Customer Journey is achieved when the 5 core capabilities are utilized.

Discovering the 5 Core Capabilities

There are 5 core capabilities essential in unlocking the most value in the shortest possible time. Two of the 5 capabilities are Digitization and Advanced Analytics.

Digitization is the process of using tools and technology to improve journeys. It has the capacity to transform customer-facing journeys by creating the potential for self-service. It has the power to reshape time-consuming transactional and manual tasks that are part of internal journeys more so when multiple systems are involved.

Another core capability worth knowing is Advanced Analytics. This is the autonomous processing of data using sophisticated tools to discover insights and make recommendations. It provides intelligence to improve decision making and enhance journeys when nonlinear thinking is required. This is very useful in claims triage, fraud management, and pricing.

There are 3 other core capabilities that are essentially important in these days of Digital Transformation. These are Intelligent Process Automation, Business Process Outsourcing, and Lean Process Design.

Intelligent Process Automation is an emerging set of new technologies that combine fundamental process redesign with process automation and machine learning. It can replace human effort in processes that involve aggregating data from multiple systems taking a piece of information from a written document and entering it as standardized data input.

Business Process Outsourcing works best for processes that are manual. It uses resources outside the main business to complete specific tasks or functions. Back-office processing of documents and correspondence is an example of BPO.

The Lean process Design is one capability that helps companies streamline processes, eliminate waste, and foster a culture of Continuous Improvement. It is considered a versatile methodology as it can be applied in multiple processes.

Organizations can use these capabilities to achieve the greatest impact. The maximum effect, however, can be achieved when specific implementation guiding principles are followed.

Interested in gaining more understanding of the Next-gen Operating Model within the context of Digital Transformation? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Digital Transformation: Next-gen Operating Model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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A company can have a team of skilled, talented, and educated professionals where each team member has relevant training and experience, a pic 1 Workplace Productivitygood attitude, and a solid work ethic. Members of the team get along well with each other.  When you put all these together, you get to achieve results. The team gets to deliver high-quality projects on time and to spec.

However, the problem is the pieces do not always fall into place.

One teammate promises to deliver and then doesn’t. Deadlines are forgotten, meetings are being missed, and important communications being misplaced. We even lose track of our to-dos. As a result, when one person fumbles, the whole team scrambles. This leads to failed projects, frustrated teammates, and financial losses.

A total of 1,160 professionals were interviewed on how individual performance can affect team productivity within the organization. Ninety-four percent of those interviewed revealed that at least one teammate frequently misses deadlines, 85% said that at least one teammate appears busy but fails to complete tasks on time, and 91% said that at least one teammate spends too much time on unimportant tasks. Significantly, the study showed that 9 out of 10 professionals interviewed revealed that when one team commits any of these blunders, the team and organization suffer.

People come to the workplace with various skill sets and backgrounds. They know how to navigate the application, develop programs, oversee communications, manage resources, devise strategies, or lead people. Yet, only a few are well versed in workflow management or even had formal training on it. Yet, nobody gets a degree in Workplace Productivity.

Expertise vs. Effectiveness

Results of a McKinsey Research showed that knowledge and skills cannot make up for low poor productivity practices that can affect morale and results. Expertise is how people work. Effectiveness is what they can do. There is a key difference between the two.

Expertise can refer to people who have good intentions and rich technical backgrounds while effectiveness is the inability to manage workload. Based on the research, as a person’s roles and responsibilities increase, productivity begins to fall. To thrive in a world of endless tasks and inputs, it is essential that key productivity practices are developed.

Mastering Key Productivity Practices

In how work is done, even small fumbles have a huge impact. With key Workplace Productivity practices, organizations can move to be smart and strategic.

Taking on each of the productivity practices can deliver a great impact on organizations.

  1. End with Next Steps. Undertaking this first productivity practice can result in projects moving forward seamlessly. This can also reduce the need for future meetings.
  1. Capture Commitments. When commitments are captured, team members are more apt to get work done on time and foster trust. A sense of care is communicated to teammates resulting in increased confidence.
  1. Dedicate Time to Each Work Mode. Critical projects and tasks are completed when time is allocated to each work mode. Team members become more effective if time is demarcated.
  1. Saying “No” When Needed is the fourth productivity practice. This will foster a culture where teammates seek real solutions, rather than agree to every request out of a sense of obligation. This behavior will spur focus and engagement. In an organization, it is okay to say “No.” A YES mentality will backfire the minute men have too much on their plate.

Organizations will always have top performers as well as average performers. What is important is the ability of organizations to develop their people into top performers. Having a good mastery of the key productivity practices can boost productivity to a high level despite multiple roles and responsibilities. This is also essential in Leadership Development.

Beyond these practices to improve personal productivity, a company can also adopt some Lean Workplace Productivity methodologies, such as Visual Management and 5S for the Office.

Interested in gaining more understanding of Workplace Productivity practices? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint of our Workplace Productivity Primer here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is a practice of rethinking and redesigning the way work is done to better support an organization’s mission and reduce costs. In all too many companies, reengineering has been not only a great success but also a great failure. After months, even years, of a careful redesign, these companies achieve dramatic improvements in individual processes only to watch overall results decline.

The promise of reengineering is not empty. It can actually deliver revolutionary process improvements, and major reengineering efforts are being conducted around the world. It can even lead organizations to achieve a successful Business Transformation.

Yet, companies cannot convey these results to the bottom line.

The Strategy that is BPR

Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is a Business Management strategy focused on the analysis and design of workflows and business processes within an organization. Often, companies direct Process Reengineering initiative on 2 key areas of business. One is in the use of modern technology to enhance data dissemination and the decision- making process. The second key area is the alteration of functional organizations to form functional teams.

As a strategy, Business Process Reengineering can greatly impact on the organization. It can help organizations fundamentally rethink how work must be done to improve customer service, cut operational costs, and become world-class competitors. It can help companies radically restructure their organizations by focusing on the ground-up design of their business process. BPR, as a strategy, can direct organizations to achieve Operational Excellence.

In the process, there are 2 dimensions that are critical in translating these short-term narrow-focus process improvements into long-term profits.

Understanding the 2 Dimensions of BPR

  1. Breadth. Breadth is a dimension of BPR that focuses on the range of activity types within a process. It includes the identification of activities includes in the process being redesigned that are critical for value creation in the overall business unit. Breadth can reduce overall business unit costs and can even reveal unexpected opportunities for a redesign.
  1. Depth. This is the dimension of BPR that focuses on the abstraction levels of process logic within a process. It refers to how many and how much of the depth levers change as a result of reengineering. Depth provides the most dramatic process cost reduction and avoids the classic reengineering pitfall of focusing on fixing the status quo.

Having a good understanding of the 2 Dimensions of BPR will open a range of opportunities for organizations to achieve innovative performance and enhancements.

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The use of the Internet and other online tools have turned consumers to be more empowered and are now shopping differently. Customers are customer centric culture 1becoming more demanding and accustomed to getting what they want.

With greater access to reviews and online rating, customers are better equipped to switch to new products and services. Consumers now want to buy products and services when, where, and however they like. They expect companies to interact with them seamlessly, in an easy, integrated fashion with very little friction across channels.

As customer expectation continues to evolve–accelerated by the amplifying forces of interconnectivity and technology–markets are becoming increasingly fragmented with demand for greater product variety, more price points, and numerous purchasing and distribution channels.

Companies should be able to adapt to these increasingly disparate demands quickly and at scale. Staying close to the Customer Experience across an increasingly diverse customer base changing over time is no longer a matter of choice. It is a business imperative and a matter of corporate survival.

The Age of the Customer now calls for companies to be a Customer-centric Organization. Successful ones have discovered that driving customer-centricity depends, first and foremost, on building a Customer-centric Culture.

The Case for Customer-centricity

In the Age of the Customer, business as usual is not enough. Customers expect companies to interact with them seamlessly. Customers want companies to anticipate their needs and technology must have lowered barriers to entry to allow unorthodox competitors to disrupt markets.

The Age of the Customer has made it imperative for companies to have a customer-centric culture. A Customer-centric Culture can empower and control employee behavior. It is a culture that prioritizes the common understanding, sense of purpose, emotional commitment, and resilience. It is a culture where leaders and employees understand the company’s brand promise. Finally, and most importantly, a customer-centric culture is a culture that is committed to delivering exceptional customer experience.

Companies with a Customer-centric Design must integrate, within its core, primary and secondary cultural attributes essential to complete its customer-centric culture framework.

The Corporate Culture Framework: Its Primary and Secondary Cultural Attributes

In a customer-centric Corporate Culture framework, the primary cultural attributes are critical in building a customer-centric culture. It also has 4 Secondary Cultural Attributes to complete that transformation.

The 4 Primary Cultural Attributes

  1. Collective Focus
    This is a shared vision articulated on what it means to deliver great customer service. Significant resources are devoted to communicating the customer value and all employees understand their role in delivering value.
  1. External Orientation
    External Orientation is having a full understanding of the company through the customer’s eyes. Outside-in perspectives are taken, seeing themselves as customers see them.
  1. Change and Innovation
    In Organizational Change and Innovation, the corporate value system is in place that values failing fast and learning quickly. The notion that mistakes are learning opportunities is embedded in the organization.
  1. Shared Beliefs
    Shared Beliefs is an attribute where employees share a common ideology and commitment to core values. The company strongly encourage strong service mentality and the desire to help others.

The 4 Secondary Cultural Attributes

  1. Risk and Governance
    In Risk Management and Governance, the company must have a strong collective focus and shared beliefs about the boundaries of acceptable risk and appropriate behavior.
  1. Courage
    A Customer-centric Culture with this secondary attribute has the resilience to bounce back when things don’t go as planned.
  1. Commitment
    Commitment is the third secondary attribute where employees show dedication to the customer-centric ethos.
  1. Inclusion
    Inclusion, the fourth secondary attribute, is one attribute that reinforces values diversity, authenticity, and uniqueness.

Inculcating these attributes has become imperative to achieve a successful transformation towards a Customer-centric Culture. Strategy Development now requires organizations to master the necessary practices to instill these attributes and the essential reinforcement to ensure that it is sustained.

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The Data Analytics Revolution is here. It is transforming how companies organize, operate, manage talent, and create value. In fact, advanced pic1 purpose-driven analyticsdata analytics is now a quintessential business matter. It is important for CEOs and top executives to be able to clearly articulate its purpose and translate it into action. Yet, this is not so.

CEOs and top executives are finding it difficult to articulate the clarity of purpose and act on it. It must not just stay in an Analytics department but must be embedded throughout the organization where the insights will be used. Leaders with strong intuition do not just become better equipped to kick the tires on their analytics efforts.  Leadership Development now calls for leaders to be capable of addressing many critical top management challenges. It now requires employing a range of tools, employing the right personnel, applying hard metrics, and asking hard questions.

Data Analytics is a means to an end. It is a discriminating tool for identifying and implementing a value-driving answer. It can unleash insights that could be the very core of your organization’s approach to improving performance. This, however, cannot be achieved if there is no clarity in the purpose of your data.

Data Analytics Revolution: Are We Ready?

The Data Analytics Revolution is transforming how companies organize, operate, manage talents, and create value. But are we ready for this? A number of companies are reaping major rewards from Data Analytics. But this is far from the norm. More CEOs and top executives are avoiding getting dragged into the esoteric weeds.

Data Analytics have complex methodologies and there is a sheer scale of data sets. Machine Learning is becoming increasingly more important. For us to be ready in the onset of Data Analytics Revolutions, we need to be capable of addressing many critical and complimentary top management challenges. We need to be able to ground even the highest analytical aspirations in traditional business principles and deploy a range of tools and people.

To be properly equipped on the proper use of Data Analytics, we just need to develop a mindset for Purpose-driven Analytics anchored on 4 guiding principles.

The 4 Guiding Principles of Purpose-driven Analytics

pic2 purpose driven analytics

  1. Ask Clear and Correct Questions. The first principle focuses on generating impact the soonest. Hence, precise questions are asked based on the company’s best-informed priorities. Here, clarity is essential.
  1.  Identify Small Changes for Big Impact. The second principle focuses on generating gains even on small improvements. There is a need to identify small points of difference to amplify and exploit because the smallest edge can make the biggest difference.
  1. Leverage Soft Data. The third principle focuses on getting quality insights and generating sharper conclusions. It is at this point wherein the use of softer inputs such as industry forecasts, predictions from product experts, and social media commentary are given more emphasis. Soft data is essential when trying to connect the dots between more exact inputs.
  1. Connect Separate Data Sets. The fourth principle focuses on capturing the untapped value. This principle emphasizes the need to combine sources of information to make sharper insights. When different data sets are examined, the greater is the probability that problems can easily be fixed.

From Learning to Doing: Connecting the Dots

It is not enough that organizations learn about Purpose-driven Analytics. One also needs to be able to put these into effective use. Companies undergoing Digital Transformation must take a multi-faceted approach to analyze data to minimize overwhelming complexity. There are 4 guiding principles for Purpose-driven Analytics implementation. Using these principles will facilitate the effective use of analytics and transform outputs into action.

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In the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are approaching the age of automation. Together with this is the impending penetration of pic 1 workforce digitizationdigital technology into the labor force which can threaten to destabilize crucial aspects of how employees work by. This can undermine the stability companies depend on to be agile.

With the coming transformation, executives can resolidify their companies by developing a robust Digital Transformation Strategy. There is just a need for executives to adjust their leadership behavior, embrace digital workforce platforms, and deepen their engagement with digitally enabled workers.

Facing the Current Digital Landscape

Workforce Digitization and the powerful economics of automation require a sweeping rethinking of organization structures, influence, and control. According to a recent study made by McKinsey Global Institute, most industries have yet to fully digitize their workforce as these are lagging behind the leading digitized sectors. Digital Transformation is just not happening in most industries. Organizations have to realize that in Workforce Digitization, automation can devastate established assumptions on stability.

The hallmark of an agile age is the ability to be stable and dynamic. The McKinsey research further showed that the workers’ roles and the processes that support them are the bedrock aspects of stability. These are the first and fourth most important factors that differentiate agile companies from the rest.

However, with the onset of automation, the workforce is destabilized. Jobs are disaggregated into component tasks and companies are forced to reassemble remaining tasks into something that makes a new kind of sense. On the other hand, job destabilization can have a dual-faceted impact. Organizations can either become more agile, healthy, and high performing or it can collapse into internal dysfunction.

The direction organizations will go will depend on how it can utilize Digital Workforce Platforms.

The Workforce Platform: Leading Organizations to Stability

Proper use of Workforce Platforms can help leaders restabilize the workforce and reconceive organizational structures to achieve stability. It has 4 core benefits of achieving stability.

pic 2 Workforce Digitization

  1. Collaboration. Workforce Platforms can be effective staffing coordinators with a multiplex of roles. It can maximize the visibility and mobility of the best people within the organization.
  1. Retention. It can bring science to talent management through the scientific process of retention. Workforce Platforms can help employees grow and develop as their career progresses.
  1. Succession Planning. Workforce Platforms are effective in increasing employees’ engagement in their work through Succession Planning. Through Success Planning, organizations are ensured that strategic capabilities, institutional knowledge, and leadership skills are retained within the organization.
  1. Decision Making. A vital core benefit, it can create conditions where employees feel valued by their organization and are happy in their environment. This is crucial as it can create conditions where employees feel energized and empowered.

Workforce Platforms are effective in leading organizations towards achieving agility. It moves companies to go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to human resource and talent management.

Maximizing the Benefits of Workforce Platforms.

Benefits gained from Workforce Platforms can further be maximized. This can be achieved when there are appropriate support processes in place. There should be dynamic scheduling and appropriate leadership decisions. Our leaders are our organization’s architect. Being able to make the right leadership decisions can lead organizations to successfully maneuver their transformation in this age of automation. At this stage, Leadership Development plays a vital role.

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customer culture innovationA large majority of organizations rarely focus on gathering and utilizing customer-centric knowledge. So much so that they even introduce a product without having vital insights on the customer and their unmet needs, and they are often clueless about them. Consequently, many product development initiatives fall flat as managers struggle to filter and evaluate ideas.

Most organizations, today, are developing initiatives around Customer Experience Strategy and Customer Journey Mapping. Customer-centric Organizations are deeply focused towards value creation for their customers. They understand the unique customer insights needed to make customer-centric decisions, are able to gather those customer insights, and are aware of the way to utilize the insights in creating value for their customers. By using customer insights, Customer-centric Organizations drive their product innovation success rate significantly higher than the industry average.

In order to develop this capability, organizations need to first utilize a customer-centric research process to gather the customer insights required to drive value creation. This is accomplished when:

  • They know the desired unique customer insights needed to make customer-centric decision.
  • They are able to gather the required customer insights.
  • They realize the proper time and way to utilize the insights in making value creation focused business decisions.

Building a Customer-centric Culture of Innovation warrants a methodical approach. A potent approach to building such a culture of innovation encompasses 3 key phases:

  1. Qualitative Insights: Apply Customer-Centric Fundamentals - The first phase commences by organizing an intensive day-long workshop for each cross-functional product team. The teams engage in a unique customer journey where they employ a “jobs-to-be-done” lens to analyze their market, and identify valuable, qualitative customer insights needed to drive customer-centric decision making.
  2. Quantitative Insights: Quantify Opportunities that Exist - This phase entails conducting quantitative research to rank the most critical customer insights needed to develop customer-centric data model. The insights available through this data set help the company in making customer-centric business decisions for years to come.
  3. Implementation: Leverage New Customer Insights for Growth - In this phase, managers and employees across the organization are trained on utilizing the insights to devise market and product strategies, and to encourage customer-centric growth.
Customer-centric culture of Innovation
Let’s take a deeper dive into the first phase of this process.

Qualitative Insights: Apply Customer-Centric Fundamentals

The first phase commences by organizing an intensive workshop for each cross-functional product team. It is typically a day-long session where the teams engage in a unique customer journey. They employ a “jobs-to-be-done” lens to analyze their market and identify valuable, qualitative customer insights needed to drive customer-centric decision making. The qualitative customer insights developed during the first phase serve as an indispensable, long-term guide in the journey to a customer-centric mindset.

During phase I, each product team is trained on customer-centric philosophy in a workshop settings. The workshop participants participate in qualitative research discussions designed to obtain critical customer information and fresh insights. Upon completion of the initial phase, the product team is able to develop a shared innovation vocabulary and gather customer insights to make customer-centric marketing and product development decisions.

Interested in learning about the third phase of the approach to Customer-centric Culture of Innovation? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Customer-centric Culture of Innovation here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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design-learn-pattern-247819In this era of rapid change only organizations that are evolving and continuously learning can flourish. Successful organizations discover how to tap their people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels.

Learning Organization is a place where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new ideas and thinking are nurtured, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together. A Learning Organization is established on the principles of innovation, free flow of ideas, and a consistent focus on transforming the ways of doing business.

Learning Organizations adopt 5 distinct practices to succeed, which form the “building blocks” of such organizations:

  • Systematic Problem Solving
  • Experimentation
  • Learning from Experience
  • Learning from Others
  • Knowledge Transfer

Five key characteristics distinguish a Learning Organization from the rest. These attributes serve as the guiding principles and practices that these organizations study and integrate into their DNA. A blend of these core characteristics helps organizations adopt a more interconnected way of thinking:

  1. Systems Thinking
  2. Personal Mastery
  3. Mental Models
  4. Shared Vision
  5. Team Learning

Learning Organization Primer

By adopting and mastering these core characteristics organizations become communities that employees can commit to. Let’s, now, discuss the first 3 characteristics in detail.

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking allows people to study businesses as bounded objects. Learning Organizations possess information systems to assess the performance of the organization and its components as a whole. Systems thinking states that all the characteristics must be present together in an organization for it to be a Learning Organization. However, some experts consider that the characteristics of a Learning Organization are gradually acquired, rather than developed simultaneously.

Personal Mastery

Personal mastery is an individual’s commitment to learning. It is about becoming more productive by applying skills to work in the most constructive manner. It involves clarification of focus, vision, and to interpret reality objectively. Training, development, and continuous self-improvement are the sources of individual learning.

Mental Models

Mental models include assumptions and generalizations retained by individuals and organizations, which go undetected, as mental models limit peoples’ observations. Learning Organizations need to identify and challenge these models. For a learning environment it is important to replace confrontational attitudes with an open culture that promotes inquiry and trust, introduce mechanisms for uncovering and assessing organizational theories of action, and discard any unwanted values.

Role of Leadership

Productivity and competitiveness relies on knowledge generation and processing. Therefore, organizations not only have to invest in new machinery and systems to improve production, but also focus on knowledge generation and learning of their people. Learning Organizations require a new view of leadership. Leaders in Learning Organizations create workplaces that help people keep building their capabilities to understand complexity, clarify vision, and improve shared mental models.

Peter Senge describes the 3 key qualities of leaders to be critical in leading the Learning Organization:

  1. Designer
  2. Steward
  3. Teacher

Designer

The key roles of a leader as a designer in Learning Organizations is designing the policies, strategies, and systems. The designer also outlines the governing ideas — the purpose, vision, and core values — for the people. They plan and develop the learning processes whereby people throughout the organization can deal productively with the critical issues they face, and cultivate personal mastery of the team members in the desired learning disciplines.

Steward

According to Peter Senge, the notion of management in this modern age should be replaced by “stewardship” — whereby control and consistency should be swapped with partnership and choice. The leader as a steward tells ‘purpose stories’ about their organization and relate those stories. They explain the reasons of the tasks that are required to be performed, the need for the organization to evolve, and the purpose of evolution. They learn to listen to other people, involve them, and develop vision — both individual and shared.

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adventure-beautiful-blue-sky-666737Most Transformation initiatives fail to achieve their anticipated objectives.

Change Management is all about engaging and rallying people — at all levels in the organization — to make the transition and sustain that change. It is critical to ensure that the entire workforce is eager and ready to embrace the required new behaviors. More often than not, the technical side of a change initiative is well planned, but it’s the implementation part that fails — particularly, changing the mindsets and behaviors of the entire workforce to enable change to stick.

Managing change is not an occasional affair; it is an iterative process that works on motivating human behavior to accept and adjust to a desired state of mind. The process is naturally evolving as it adapts in accordance with the feedback from the people.

Change Management demands a thorough yet organized approach to enable the “people side” of change to work — essential for accommodating and sustaining Business Transformations. This entails assisting people incorporate new mindsets, processes, policies, practices, and behaviors.

A methodical approach to make the entire workforce accept and support change constitutes 8 critical levers:

  1. Defining the Change
  2. Creating a Shared Need
  3. Developing a Shared Vision
  4. Leading the Change
  5. Engaging and Mobilizing Stakeholders
  6. Creating Accountability
  7. Aligning Systems and Structures
  8. Sustaining the Change

Now, let’s discuss the first 4 levers in detail.

1. Defining the Change

The first step entails outlining the rationale, scope, and results of the change initiative for the enterprise, key departments, and roles. There is a need to define critical elements, including the requirements from the initiative, the execution planning, and the adjustments needed to encourage people to work better.

The project sponsors need to clearly outline the essence of the proposed Transformation initiative, to realistically embed Change Management into the design of the program, and develop effective Change Management plans. An initial baseline of the expected effect of the program on people should be performed. The baseline also helps analyze the impact of the change program — in terms of skills inventory, head-count indications, adjustments in accountabilities and relationships, shifts in incentives and pay structures, and future learning needs.

2. Creating a Shared Need

Once the change and its impact has been delineated, the next thing to do is to create a shared understanding of the rationale for Transformation across the organization. To create a shared need for the Transformation endeavor, the change sponsor needs to build awareness of the necessity for change amongst the senior team, key stakeholders, and the entire organization; demonstrate to the people the benefits of change; and set up a feedback mechanism across the organization. The alignment afforded by developing a shared need for change helps build a strong footing for Transformation.

3. Developing a Shared Vision

An essential element of implementing transformation entails delineating a clear vision that outlines critical actions and the anticipated outcomes. It helps in encouraging and involving the workforce in the Transformation initiative, giving them a sense of purpose by becoming a part of something bigger. The vision of the organization after Transformation should be coherent with the company values and mission.

4. Leading the Change

This lever entails developing change leadership and implementation skills needed to drive and enable sustainable change. Engagement and commitment of senior leaders is essential for leading change. They are responsible for planning their and the entire workforce’s actions, demonstrating or role modeling the new mindsets and actions, designating program sponsors — e.g., business unit leaders who are enthusiastic about the Transformation initiative and also act as change agents — motivating others to support transformation, and setting up a road map for the change leaders to steer the organization to achieve the anticipated performance milestones.

Interested in learning more about these levers to Change Management? You can download an editable PowerPoint on 8 Levers to Change Management here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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