Wondering About the Fears of Success and Failure

As a executive coach, it is not unusual for me to talk about fear. But I got to thinking about how decision-makers deal with their fears of success and failure after reading a post by Padraig O’Morain in The Irish Times. Eliminating these fears is very popular in self-development. For example, if you do a Google search of “fear of failure”, there are over 88 million results. For the “fear of success”, there are over 140 million results. Certainly fear can be a paralyzing agent but could it serve a business purpose? Could there be more to these fears? Continue reading

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Business Agility – Misunderstood Term or Crucial Mindset Shift?

business agilityChange has always been a part of the business environment so the ability to respond is simply good business management. There is a lot of lip service about setting up the right practices and standards to promote business agility within organizations of all sizes. Seeing how a number of organizations are struggling or resistant to change, a question arises as to whether it is really a misunderstood term or a crucial mindset shift.

What is business agility?

According to BusinessDictionary.com, organizational agility is

The capability of a company to rapidly change or adapt to changes in the market. A high degree of agility can help a company react successfully to the emergence of new competitors, the development of new industry-changing technologies, or sudden shifts in overall market conditions.

That sounds good. One would hope that a company would have the wisdom and will to adapt to various changes However, after you read The Agility Factor, you realize that it is not a common choice or practice.

More on The Agility Factor

Thomas Williams, Christopher G. Worley and Edward E. Lawler III studied 243 large corporations in 17 industries over the 30-year period from 1979 to 2009. Some of these organizations included ExxonMobil, Harley-Davidson and Svenska Handelsbanken and they discovered that the companies that performed the best had embraced agility in their corporate cultures and practices. Another interesting discovery they noted in their Strategy + Business post was that there was not one way to exhibit this agility.

Williams, Worley and Lawler describe agility as

Agility is not just the ability to change. It is a cultivated capability that enables an organization to respond in a timely, effective, and sustainable way when changing circumstances require it.

What were the commonalities?

The data brought out a few interesting points. The companies who responded best to market conditions did not change just for window dressing. They changed because there was a strategic value in instilling a new way to do business. Harley-Davidson is a great example since it nearly closed its doors in 1981 but there is more beyond what the researchers noticed about how Harley-Davidson embraced agility. Since 2009, Harley-Davidson continues to perform well.

The commonalities that Harley-Davidson and the other outperformers exhibit are

  • Strategize in dynamic ways
  • Accurately perceive challenges in the marketplace and/or business environment
  • Development of a “change-friendly identity”
  • Shared purpose
  • Unfiltered information flows up and down the organization
  • Managers and decision-makers have regular contact with customers and other interested parties
  • Test on small scale before committing whole organization
  • While not extravagant with managing costs, willing to spend money, time and people to run experiments
  • Pragmatic approach to embedding change capabilities
  • Executives delegate authority to managers at local level for more effective responses to customer needs and/or wants
  • Clear metrics and performance measures that are consistent with the business model

Agility is far more than awareness of economic circumstances

As I read through the post by Williams, Worley and Lawler, it seemed much more apparent that incorporating agility into the way the organization operated wasn’t simply doing certain things. If that were the case, many more companies would be considered outperformers. Underlying all of this is the crucial need for a mindset shift. Regardless if the organization is large or small, the leaders have to set a precedent of trust and open communication. There is also some application of kaizen given the high level of evaluation and subsequent application of changes when appropriate.

With the combination of internal flexibility, trust and awareness of external circumstances, business agility is a remarkable way to respond to the current turbulence as well as anticipate future threats and opportunities. There seems to be a good argument for adopting this dynamic and yet customized business model.

Join us for a closer look at agility and how it is applied as we discuss this on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday, April 19th at 5pm GMT/ 12pm ET / 9am PT.

How is business agility interpreted by companies around the world?

What role does complexity play in the development of a company’s agility?

If the environment is more chaotic than complex, how do you focus flexible responses in an established organization?

What change management strategies would foster more agility in organizational culture?

 About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.

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Boundary Work: Missing Link in Ethical Leadership Development?

Alice MacGillivray, boundaries in ethical leadership

This is guest post is by Alice MacGillivray is a Fellow with the Institute for Social Innovation at  Fielding Graduate University and based in western Canada. She help people in organizations and communities gain new insights, adapt to changing environments, lead and learn through the concept of an ecosystem-like work environment. Please join us on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, this Friday, April 12 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT as we focus on Boundary Work: the MIssing Link in Ethical Leadership Development

In Human Systems Management, the brilliant systems thinker C. West Churchman wrote a thought piece called “Poverty and Development.” It is as difficult to convey insights of this piece through excerpts, as it is to convey the richness of a tapestry through threads pulled from its fabric. But I will try to illustrate with Churchman’s words: Continue reading

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How Important Is Choosing Where We Work?

Last week on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, our conversation was a potpourri. Unfortunately time ran out before we got to the last headline. Give the recent outcry about telecommuting and flexible workplaces, it seemed worth taking a closer look at what was really underneath the discussion.

It all started with Marisa Mayer

As I wrote in the brief introduction last week, It is uncertain that Marissa Mayer was intending to trigger an intense conversation about where people work. I imagine she was looking at Yahoo and how it could function better. However, she touched a nerve.

This response highlights a major shift

There has been a progression in the workplace to being connected twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This means we can work anywhere with our laptops, our tablets and smartphones. But this does mean that the old model of coming to the office and staying there for the workday has become outdated and maybe even impractical. Yet, there are holdouts. Last week, there was a report about a recent study done in Ireland in which 73% of employers feared a “loss of control” if their workers had a flexible workplace. Now, they also expressed concerns about the cost of this workplace practice as well as productivity.

What if we treated workers like the adults they are?

In a Harvard Business Review blog post, Leigh Thompson notes that workers are seeking autonomy. It is a remarkable thing when your employer recognizes you as an skilled adult who can manage a workload without babysitting. Thompson noted that some people like the structure of coming into the “commons”. Being in the physical workplace can provide boundaries that increases productivity. For others, they crave the “cave”, being home provides comfort and space that can increase productivity. These are choices that honor autonomy.

Would a conscious choice to allow workers to choose their best work environment prevent negative behaviors?

There are upsides and downsides to companies dictating where you can work. There is also the danger of workers simply tuning out and creating their own workspaces, regardless of any company policy.

 

Why do employers believe they have to contain their workers to foster high productivity?

What is the furor triggered by Marisa Mayers’ decision really about?

What is the real/actual impact on business goals and revenue growth when companies use flexible workplaces as their norm?

How would you incorporate flexible workplaces into industries that require workers to be on site (ex. manufacturing)?

Is the search for some control or autonomy in the workplace reflecting something larger in society? Why or why not?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.

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