Think Intervention– The Force Behind Real Change That Creates Must-Have Outcomes: It’s a Matter of Sustainability…

Intervention is a planned programmatic activity aimed at bringing change to all or part of an organization… change that is deliberate and focused to improve business growth, relevance, sustainability…

In the current business environment, interventions are often needed to facilitate a draconian change for an organization to more effectively compete in challenging global and highly competitive markets… business challenges come in many forms, including; disruptive technology, global competitor, emerging-shrinking-expanding markets… Interventions are implementation of change in an organization designed to create must-have outcomes, and produce a positive impact on the sustainability of an organization…

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Interventions are unique for every organization or business: An intervention strategy that delivers results for one business may not necessarily deliver the same or similar results for another, even within the same company, market, industry– the copy-cat approach seldom yield positive results… Business growth and sustainability hinges on continuous– intervention and innovation… and an organizational strategy that uses a combination of intervention and innovation is ahead of the game…

Normally there are a several types of interventions for any one situation, and the trick is to find the intervention that best suits the specific issue, culture, available resources… According to Jack Welch; a good business leader creates a  vision, articulate it, passionately own it, and relentlessly drive it to completion… but with a little intervention along the way…

In the article Interventions for Change in Organization by Abhishek Kumar Sadhu writes: Interventions are techniques and methods designed to advance an organization from– ‘here’ to ‘there’ or ‘from where it is’ to ‘where it want to be’… interventions are aimed at improving individual and team activities… so as to better accomplish targets and goals in accordance with the organization’s envisaged vision and strategy…

The most important group interventions are team-building activities or team-conflict issues, the goal of which is the improvement and increase effectiveness of the team or team members within the organization. The interventions focus on group dynamics– both intra-and inter- groups; for example; often two or more independently working groups have to coordinate tasks to achieve the required organizational goals, and often this interaction can give rise to many serious disagreement, tension… which then can affect the organization’s overall morale, productivity…

Often some form of intervention is used to resolve or manage or mitigate various types of intra- and inter- working group or team issues of conflict, disagreement, contention… before they inflict major damage on the organization… Some intervention techniques include:

  • Manage and increase the interaction and communication among the groups (i.e., increased interaction under favorable conditions enhances positive feelings and sentiments)…
  • Identify a super ordinate goal (i.e., a goal that both groups desire to achieve but that neither can achieve without mutual support)…
  • Rotate the members of each group, interchange group leaderships, institute various forms of training, collaboration, counseling…

In the article What Are Business Intervention Strategies? by Jacquelyn Jeanty writes: An intervention strategy involves the  understanding of the different approaches that can be use to effect change within an organization’s structure, process, culture… Intervention can take place either on the organization’s overall structure or within its specific parts groups, individuals… it all depends on the desired outcome.

Circumstances that may warrant an intervention strategy include; adapting to globalization, reorganization, workplace diversity, technology disruption, issues of competitiveness… An intervention strategy is a way to work towards a desired outcome, or to deal with unforeseen situations that can threaten the stability of the organization… Often a desired outcome requires changes at some level or intensity for an organization to grow, develop, sustain itself. Also, issues involving– people, morale, high turnover, diversity, workplace issues… can also warrant the use of an intervention strategy as a means for improving productivity, work relations…

Certain intervention approaches may target an organization’s overall structure or focus on the various processes or functions, for example; An intervention can introduce processes designed to change how the entire organization or team or group… operates, either on a global scale or within specific areas. As some departments, groups, teams… may rely on one another to accomplish goals, an intervention in one area may have unexpected consequences in other areas, and impact how they might or might not work together.

Also, interventions can affect the basic management reporting structure and revamp an overall approach to management process, procedure.  Often an intervention can affect changes at a cultural level in terms of how staff view their roles, responsibilities, and their interaction with management, and each other… Intervention is important process for making major changes to the outcomes of an organization, but they can also cause major disruptions, new conflicts, threaten stability… if not managed properly.

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In the article Interventions: Managing Systematic Change in Organizations by Armando Justo writes: An intervention aimed at improving performance may involve developing a completely different workplace environment, for example; one that respect– diversity, shared power, collaboration, open discussions… Such strategic interventions must be initiated and managed by the organization’s leadership with the appropriate employees and others stakeholders fully involved, committed to the process.

Most important, for an intervention to be successful its ‘leader’ must be a change agent– a person with vision, who can deal with uncertainty, who understands risk, who is committed to an improved organizational outcome… According to M. Kormanik; there are various classifications for an interventions, example: One classification is– large-scale interventions; this typically involve an entire group of stakeholders, working toward the definition of a future state…

These interventions start from top leaderships of the organization and they– define, analyze, plan, manage implementation, execution of the intervention for the desired outcomes. Large scale interventions are highly structured, carefully planned and usually involves the entire organization in some capacity…

Another classification is– strategic interventions; this typically involves a strategy of transformation that links the organization to a larger objective in order to keep pace with changing conditions… Strategic intervention facilitates a better understanding of the organization’s current state as it relates to its larger objective, which allows it to better define and target strategies for competing, collaborating with other organizations…

Still yet another classification is– management and leadership interventions; it’s aim is to improve performance, effectiveness of the organization’s ‘leadership and management’.  The use of this intervention is wide-spread and most organizations have some programs in place to– identify, measure, improve the quality of leadership. The basis for many of these programs, include; Defining appropriate leadership profiles that best respond to current, future organizational needs; Identifying process, procedures that ensure leadership accountability; Creating a cultural environment that mandates continuous innovation and intervention…

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Change by intervention involves moving from one competitive or structured condition to another… organizations must change at record pace to keep up with highly competitive and disruptive environments that demand more value, performance… One important point to bear in mind is that the effects of different forms of interventions to initiate change are never neutral; it always creates winners and losers. Intervention does not always work in ways intended, or in ways business theories predicts it should.

Part of the risk of intervention is ‘law of unintended consequences’, which often comes into play– unforeseen effects can have a serious negative impact an organization as a results of a particular intervention strategy: People and business rarely behave precisely in ways expected. In judging the effects of intervention strategy, consider the following factors:

  • Efficiency: Does this intervention lead to better use of people, resources…
  • Effectiveness: Does this intervention lead to desired outcome– increased value, cost effectiveness…
  • Equity: Does this intervention affect one group or function more than another, and unfairly create negativism in the organization…
  • Sustainability: Does this intervention impact, threaten, or in any affect other opportunities, or limit future organizational options, alternatives…

Leaders must have specific skills to affect a positive intervention on an organization, which means to– define the initiative, understand the risks and consequences, get the participation and commitment of all the relevant stakeholders, and fully integrate the initiative across the entire organization… However, unfortunately many leaders are not skilled to affect a strategic intervention… Many are fine just ‘doing the job’, rather than providing the vision and passion to drive an innovative strategic intervention…

According to French & Bell Jr; intervention is a set of structured activities in which the organization or targeted groups or individuals are engaged in a task or sequence of tasks where outcomes are related directly or indirectly to some level of managed improvement… Interventions constitute specific actions whose outcomes make things happen ‘differently’ within the organization…

Power of Predictability? Don’t Try to Predict the Future, Create It: Choice– Do Lunch or Be Lunch, Eat or Be Eaten…

The deep need to predict and shape the future drives most of human behavior and especially business organizations… Predictability is to know in advance the degree to which a situation, course of action, behavior, event… is likely to happen on the basis of observation, experience, scientific reason…

According to Howard Stevenson and Jeffrey Cruikshank; long before the dawn of history, our ancestors lived in an environment of high risk and uncertainty, for example; rustling in the brush could announce the approach of a covey of game birds or a saber-toothed tiger… Hence, swift and accurate prediction of the nature and significance of the threat and the taking of appropriate action were the keys to survival: In other words, kill the game bird, and elude the tiger– eat or get eaten

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In today’s fiercely competitive business environment, mastery of these survival skills is essential. The realistic prediction of threats and opportunities and taking of deliberate action are critical competencies, i.e., move to kill, or flee, but don’t just stand there. The problem facing companies today is that there are too many fishermen and not enough fish in the market. It’s a matter of– ‘eat lunch or be lunch’, or as stated by Gregory Rawlins; if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re a part of the road…

The ‘do lunch or be lunch’ in this context means a fight for business survival and it brings about the concept of the ‘survival of the fittest’… the term ‘eat lunch or be lunch’ originated from the eco-system, where in a food chain it’s either you hunt down animals to eat, or you will be hunted down by animals to be eaten…

Similarly, a metaphor for fish says: If they need to catch a fish to eat and there only 5 fishes in the pond and 10 fishermen then five will go hungry (i.e., fish = customers)… Survival of the fittest means that you’re either going to be the predator (do lunch) or prey (be lunch): There is not anything ‘neutral’ or ‘in between’ about it.

According to Miroslay Tibernaus; today’s leaders must create the future, versus simply trying to predict it: They must, 1) unlock their potential through empowerment, 2)  move away from linear thinking, 3) experiment, experiment… Change is inevitable and one can either effect a desired change yourself, or be subject to the results of someone else’s change. In other words, be a leader, rather than a follower; proactive rather than reactive… Abe Lincoln said; the best way to predict your future is to create it.

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In the article Do You Try To Predict The Future? by Paul Lemberg writes: Can you predict the future of your industry? Can you predict the future of your business? No one can say with certainty what will happen next week much less in one year, five years… Yogi Berra reportedly said; it’s hard to make predictions and especially about the future… Most people will agree that predicting the future is problematic, and yet all businesses try to predict the future, all of the time. In fact, there are three basic business tools which require predictions:

  • Future Revenues: At the most primitive level businesses predict future revenues. For better or worse estimated future revenues govern many of your proposed business decisions. These estimated figures are often wrong but you nonetheless establish spending patterns for years to come based upon this guesswork…
  • Industry Scenarios: One level up from revenue predictions is the prediction of industry scenarios in which you try to guess what are competitors are likely to do in the future…
  • Strategic Planning: The most complex level of predictions takes place in strategic planning. Most high-performing businesses set annual and long-term objectives and develop plans to meet those objectives. Resource planning, financial planning, market planning, sales planning and project planning all depend upon how well businesses predict the future in their strategic plans…

One of the problems with predictions is that the business end up developing ‘planned reactions’ to guessed-about future events, instead of creating their own plans. A second problem is that business usually measure the success of these ‘planned reactions’ based upon whether or not they produce the predicted results. But, now here’s the rub: All the estimates of future revenue, industry scenario, strategic plan are based on assumptions and predictions that are most likely wrong…

Hence, instead of being reactive by following everyone else, become proactive by creating your own future, and move the direction of the business by ‘inventing your own future’, such that– it’s ‘faster than speed of change’… A boldly conceived, declared future direction will energize everyone in the organization. And, by inventing the future you will alter the competitive landscape– and completely change the game… The future is really whatever you say it’s going to be: The odds are that your prediction of the future will probably be wrong, and probably more right if you invent your own future…

In the book Power of Predictability in Creating Your Future by Howard Stevenson writes: Prediction is active, not passive: Taking effective action means playing to your strengths. It means picking, practicing, specializing, and playing your own game. Part of this is knowing the overall odds for and against breaking into the game you’re interested in… Historically, most successful leaders deal effectively with the future…

However, the obverse visage of predictability is avoidance, for example; confronted by a saber-toothed tiger, our ancestors who survived, fled… The rational business leader will avoid insofar as possible situations that are inherently unpredictable. The professional gambler is not a risk-taker; he/she understands the odds and only acts in those situations where the odds assure a clearly favorable outcome…

Avoidance of unpredictability applies to relationships as well as situations. In a society where mutual cooperation is critical for simple functioning, it’s important to be as unsurprising as possible… In modern-day tribe, security is found in the predictability of your colleagues, suppliers, customers and employees — even your competitors. Similarly, to achieve effective collaboration and strategic execution, all of your stakeholders look to you for predictability. In fact, leaders and organizations enhance their effectiveness by being more predictable, and they have a special obligation to act honestly, humanely, effectively and that, most often, translates into acting predictably…

However, according to Tim Dickson; predictability, if you think about it, is largely a pejorative sort of word. Call someone predictable and what you are really saying is that person is a touch boring. Almost by definition, a predictable sporting contest lacks the excitement that makes it worth watching… Whereas, the growing unpredictability of the economic, social and political environment is what makes it fun and separates the winners and losers… and it provides opportunities for leaders to exceed expectations…

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In the article Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Create It by Paul Brown writes: To deal with uncertainty today, you need a different approach… The old way, which still works in extremely predictable situations is based on the assumption that the future is going to be pretty much like the past. Think demographics, experts can calculate with a high degree of confidence, the world population in 2050, because they know, for example: How many people are alive today– about 7 billion… They know how people are distributed by age, i.e., teenagers, twenties, thirties, over sixty-five… they know when most people decide to have kids…

Studying data like this you can, as the United Nations often does, say with a degree of certainty that in the year 2050, there will be about 9 billion people on the planet (i.e., ignoring the possibility of a pandemic)… And you can also make a number of fairly accurate estimates, such as; how many diapers will have to be produced, or how many gallons of water those 9 billion people will drink each day, or how much U. S. will need to pay out in Social Security benefits at the midpoint of this century…

All this information is terrific: But for an organization not everything can be foreseen, and therefore predictable, for example: Is the world ready for your company’s brand-new, never-before-seen product or service? There are places where predictions are very questionable… Here’s the central point: How you traditionally learned to reason is extremely limited in predicting what will happen in your business. You need a different approach, for example: In the face of the unknown, leaders must act by: 1) figure out what they want, 2) take a small step toward making it reality, 3) think about what they learned from taking that step, 3) build that learning into their next step… in other words: Act. Learn. Build. Repeat…

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Predicting the future is really difficult… According to Broc Edwards; if  your actions make sense today, then you are probably not pushing hard or far enough… you must use your imagination to explore the unimaginable– opportunities, trends, desires, needs… then apply all available expertise to make them possible…

The future is scary when you trying to predict it and don’t have any control, but the future is very exciting when you are creating it. According to Carol Wickett; everyone would like to accurately predict the future, and especially the business future; however, the only way to do that is to ‘create it’ yourself. 

Future of Work– Sharp Rise of On-Demand Freelance Workers: Invisible Workers that Reshape Business, Work…

The sharp rise of the ‘on-demand freelance worker model’ is creating a massive impact on organizations; it’s a fast growing sector of the economy… but it’s invisible, hiding under the traditional staffing models… The growing trend among organizations to tap into a flexible workforce, i.e.; independent contractors, freelance workers, individual consultants… continue to make-up an increasingly, significant proportion of the overall workforce.

Current estimates put the number of freelance workers at 53 million, or about 33% of the U.S. workforce– a number that is expected to grow to 50% by 2020. According to U. S. Census Bureau’s Annual Report on Non-Employer Business; around 75% of total U.S. business (i.e., about 22.5 million businesses across the country) do not have any paid employees, which means that large number of people are working for themselves… This number is up 1.7%. These on-demand freelance businesses reported total revenues of about $990 billion, 4.1% increase. Hence, the independent freelance workers economy just keeps growing, it’s a massive movement hiding in plain sight…

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Experts predict that the growth of these workers is only going to expand… According to Richard Greenwald; these workers go by many names, e.g.; freelancers, contractors, gig-ers, consultants… but they cannot be ignored. These contingent workers have grown in size and importance in the past decade… they are not a generational anomaly or a stage for the post-collegiate generation. They’re a new economic reality and a great force…

According to Tina Brown; these are not just workers jump from project/job/gig to the next in an endless race, but rather they are reinventing a new business sensibility in the process. Freelancers are creating a new social compact. They do so, however, without the supports that traditional workers take for granted, e.g.; they are not covered by most employment laws, and for most part, they have not joined together collectively to agitate for change. They are completely on their own, flying solo, and that has huge implications for business, workplaces, workers…

In the article What Rise Of Freelance Economy Really Means For Business by Jeff Wald and Jeffrey Leventhal write: One of the most exciting discussions about the workforce today focuses on the rise of the freelance worker economy. As more workers pursue the flexibility of independent carriers and more companies pursue an on-demand workforce to scale labor efficiently, the industry is buzzing about what the freelance economy will mean for the labor force overall.

While many have focused on online staffing and its impact on the traditional staffing model, the real focus of the discussion should instead be on the shift in the human capital paradigm to include the emergence of freelancers… Moreover, the on-demand freelance workers’ work-streams that are not managed by staffing firms become a critical part of comprehensive talent management strategy, and this is where real disruption, innovation in the worker economy is happening…

Today, freelancers and temps (also known as contingent labor) make up nearly 15% of the workforce, and by 2020 it’s expected to be nearly 20%. Freelancers alone are expected to grow from about 7% to 16% of the workforce… This upward trend tells us three things: First, freelance labor is on the rise and you should expect it to continue. Second, the growth in freelance indicates that organizations are embracing work arrangements other than just staff employees. Third, business will need new tools and process in order to manage the freelancer life-cycle…

The workforce of the future must accommodate freelancers in order to compete– they will also need the technology, tools, processes to manage it. Trends for the next 2-4 years:

  • Independent contractor population continuing to grow as millennials face tough job prospects, and often choose more flexibility in their work/life balance…
  • Retirees staying engaged in the workforce as freelancers with special skills…
  • Independent contractor usage will continue to grow as companies adapt to the changing workforce, and the benefits of a variable workers, e.g., efficiency in costs…
  • Companies will view freelancers as the third prong of a workforce approach…

In the article Freelance Workers Reshape Companies and Jobs by Paul Davidson writes: Across the nation, many companies are shifting to a more flexible workforce populated by temporary workers, contractors, freelancers… loosening the bond between business and employees. Companies that are aiming to become more nimble and cut costs, want to boost or cut staffing to meet fluctuating demand or deploy workers with specialized skills for short-term projects… The trend is subtly reshaping the workforce in which business traditionally employed workers through good times and bad…

According to Daniel Pink; the basic traditional bargain at the center of work used to be, employees gave loyalty and the organization gave security, but now that bargain is kaput… The expanding use of contract workers, in fact, is partly fueled by workers, themselves, who see more flexibility and even security as an alternative work arrangements…

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In the article How An Exploding Freelance Economy Will Drive Change by mysay writes: The freelance worker economy continued to dominate the discussion about the way you work. One in three U.S. workers (roughly 42 million) are estimated as freelancers. By 2020, freelancers are expected to make up 50% of the full-time workforce. Independent work is becoming more common across all generations and the vast majority plan to remain independent in the coming year…

The freelance economy is exploding at exactly the same moment that companies are undergoing a major shift in how they hire. Talent is moving from a fixed cost to a variable cost, with companies staffing-up and down as needed. Organizations have the ability to quickly on-board hundreds or thousands of freelance workers– provided they have the tools and systems in place to manage them. The booming online staffing industry is also accelerating the growth of the freelance worker economy.

This $1 billion industry provides a valuable alternative to companies that are leveraging a contingent workforce. In fact, the ‘Staffing Industry Association’ saw the online staffing market grow 60% last year and no signs of that growth slowing down…

In the article Counting America’s Freelance, Ahem, ‘Self-Employed’ Workers by Patrick Clark writes: The rise of the freelance worker economy gets plenty of attention. Getting a handle on how many U.S. workers fit into this bucket is harder than you’d think… An old Intuit survey projected that more than 40% of U.S. workforce would be contingent workers by 2020.

More recently, a lobbying group called ‘It’s My Business’ estimated there are 10.3 million independent contractors working in U.S. ‘Freelancers Union’, meanwhile, says 42 million workers, or one-third of U.S. workforce, are already freelancers– and makes a habit of admonishing ‘Bureau of Labor Statistics’ for failing to acknowledge it…

‘MBO Partners’ publishes an annual report on independent workers in U.S., and it relies on two surveys of 2,000 people each, and the study estimated there are 17.7 million independent workers, defined as– ‘people who work at least 15 hours a week in non-traditional, non-permanent’ jobs. That was good for about 8% of workers aged 21 or older, with combined income of $1.2 trillion.

One in four independent workers hired other independents, and they spent $96 billion to pay contractors, according to the study. The report also offered interesting tidbits, e.g.: 36% of independent workers polled consider themselves ‘self-employed’, compared with 13% who said they were ‘business owners’, and 4% who were identified as ‘freelancers’.

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The on-demand freelance worker model for many workers is the ‘future of work’: These workers are available at a moment’s notice and many with special skills… it’s reshaping the nature of organizations and the structure of careers… The idea was that a good job is being an employee of a particular company; which is the legacy of the period of time that stretched from about 1880 to 1980:

During these years many companies were created from emergence of the ‘Industrial Revolution’ that brought armies of workers together, often under a single roof. In the initial stages, this was step-down for many independent artisans who could no longer compete with machine-made goods; whereas it was step-up for day-workers who survived by selling their labor to ‘job’ masters. These very early companies introduced a new stability into work, a structure which differentiated specific jobs from one another, thus providing defined roles for workers and career paths.

Many of these jobs were unionized and unions fought to improve member benefits. Governments eventually built stable employment along these lines into heart of welfare legislation. And, large class of white-collar workers enjoyed secure jobs administering this employee-based economy.

The traditional way of working still reigns, but more organizations are turning to other work arrangements, especially large enterprises that can capture significant business value from deploying a flexible, non-employee workforce… there are a greater number of enterprises that turn to independent workers more than ever before… this new way of working are providing real benefits for both employers and workers…

But, what sort of world will on-demand freelance worker model create? Pessimists worry that everyone will be reduced to status of 19th-Century workers crowded on street corners waiting to be hired by contractors.  While boosters maintain that it ushers in a world where everybody can control their own lives, doing the work they want, when they want…

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The on-demand freelance way of working is not likely to be a good experience for people who value stability more than flexibility… whereas, it’s good for outsiders, insurgents, entrepreneurs… trying to create new companies… This way of work requires workers to keep their formal skills up to date, rather than relying on the firm to train them (or push them up the corporate ladder).

This means accepting challenging assignments, or if they are locked in a more routine job, taking responsibility for educating themselves. Also, freelance workers must learn how to drum-up new business and make decisions between spending and investment… At same time, governments must rethink institutions that were designed in an era when freelance workers were rarity… also encourage schools to produce self-reliant workers rather than just loyal employees. Hence, trend of the future of work, it seems, comes with the tagline; everyone is their own business, company…

Gap Analysis– Bridging Sustainable, Indefensible, Outcomes: Margins that Separate Winners, Losers…

So why do you think your organization’s strategy is so good, when its performance is so bad? Variations on this question appears time and time again as organizations maneuver through challenging transformations to improve performance and sustain growth… A fundamental characteristic of a superior-performing organization is its recognition that a successful formulation, execution of a coherent organizational strategy is intrinsically linked to leadership…

 It’s the ability for leaders to recognize when organization strategy is not in full alignment with performance expectations, in other words, there is a ‘gap’. It’s leader responsibility to not only acknowledge and understand the existence of a ‘gap’, but also to develop and implement a comprehensive ‘action plan’ to bridge or mend the ‘gap’…

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Gap Analysis is the difference between the ‘current state’ and the ‘alignment state’ of an organization, or individual functionalities within an organization. These are issues that revolve around two basic questions: Where are you now? Where do you want to be? According to Aniket S. Sharma; Gap Analysis provides a foundation for detailed study of the difference between the organization’s ‘future’ condition or state, which is known as the– ‘To-Be’ (desired outcome); and the organization’s ‘current’ condition or state, which is the– ‘As-Is’ ( current outcome). Simple formula for GAP Analysis is: GAP Analysis = ‘To-Be’ – ‘As-Is’.

GAP ANALYSIS: There are four important and frequent questions an organization must ask itself: Where are you now? Where do you want to be? How will you get there? When will you get there? The point between ‘where are you now’ and ‘where you want to be’ is the ‘gap’. Identifying and understanding the ‘gap’ is known as ‘Gap Analysis’ and it’s depicted in this diagram:

How Will You Get There?

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Once an organization has identified a performance gap, the first challenge in bridging or mending the gap is to identify the causes behind the ‘gap’. There could be any number of reasons within the organization’s environment or structure that may be responsible for a ‘gap’, for example; flawed strategy, competitiveness, lack of talent, lack of leadership… Once an accurate cause (or causes) is discovered the organization must then develop an ‘action plan’ to– overcome or bridge or mitigate the gap… Usually there are a number of remedial actions that can be implemented, but the actual remedy depends highly on the specific cause of the gap, available resources, and most important– leadership…

If the cause of the gap is transformative then a change or shift in the organization’s basic strategy is required. One starting point for this remedial action might be Ansoff’s Growth Matrix, which suggests that an organization’s attempts to grow depends on answering two questions: How can you grow in the existing markets? What change can be made to the product/service portfolio to trigger more performance and sustainable growth? 

The output from the Ansoff product/market matrix is a series of suggested growth strategies which set the direction for the organization strategy. Ansoff’s Growth Matrix provides four options that can help bridge the gap; market penetration strategy, product development strategy, market development strategy, diversification strategy…

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However, if the cause is connected, for example; with a specific performance factor of the organization, then the solution should concentrate on just that specific elements… These are tactical decisions, for example; the solution can pick out relevant elements from the traditional marketing mix of; price, place, promotion, product, performance… And, the additional elements of; people, process, physical evidence allows an organization to deal with other issues connected with providing a service… In any of these analysis accurate performance data is required about all aspects of the– organization, markets, industry… Also, before an organization begins to develop an ‘action plans’ to deal with the ‘gap’, they must first ensure that the ‘remedy’ for target cause (Where you would like to be) is realistic and achievable… 

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In the article Do You Really Need GAP Analysis? by Tejasvi Chandrarkar Addagada writes: Initiating a GAP Analysis is usually due to a variety of causes, e.g.; market disruption, under performance, decline in competitiveness, change in strategic direction… also, technology innovations, reorganizations… Remember, GAP Analysis always address the questions: Where are you now? Where do you want to be? But, before even beginning a Gap Analysis ensure that the analysis process is consistent with the context of the organization’s overall mission, strategy, objectives… this consistency is important since it establishes the actual direction of the organization, which is: the As-Is’ analysis and the To-Be’ analysis…

Once ‘To-Be’ and ‘As-Is’ models are developed, then the actual gaps can be identified. But the analysis does not stop with just identifying the ‘gap’, in addition, you must also clearly elicit the necessary requirements to bridge the ‘gap’, which means– estimating resources, time-lines, available talent… then an actual solution is predicated on a comprehensive ‘impact or outcome’ analysis for proposed remedy itself… this is a critical step, because an ill-conceived remedy can exacerbate the existing gap, or in fact, in the quest to develop a remedy for the existing gap you might inadvertently introduce new gap, which might even be worse than existing one…

Hence, a consistent set of metrics that accurately measures the proposed remedy/solution and its impact on the organization is critical… According to Sandhya Jane; Gap Analysis is either enterprise-wide or restricted to specific function, product, competitor… it’s analysis between organization’s current situation and future expectation in terms of; performance, process, competitiveness, systems, outcomes… Gap Analysis is benchmark for the future direction of an organization or an important individual function within the organization…

In the article Steps for Gap Analysis by Tom Hawes writes: The difference between ‘where you are’ relative to ‘someone else’ is a ‘gap’. The gap could be positive (i.e., you are in a good position) or negative (i.e., your position is bad). In competitive intelligence, you study gaps because you want to know– why, where, how much… about the competitors advantages, or the same about your advantages over your competitors.  Identifying the known gaps (though not easy) is the first step in a robust Gap Analysis process.

There are specific steps that you can use to comprehensively identify and  understand gaps… and then create simple tracking methods to monitor a gap… Ultimately to stay competitive or just to improve performance/outcome, you might implement an ‘action plan’ to bridge the gap… Here are a few tips:

  • Start with the ‘known’ gaps:Known’ gaps are the ones for which there is general agreement about their identity and significance. For instance, you may know that competitor X is about to introduce a new product which is 20% faster than any product that you have… Furthermore, you know that your customers highly value performance. Hence, this is a gap that is well characterized and is significant to your competitive position…
  • Create a backlog of ‘potential’ gaps: ‘Potential’ gaps do not meet the full criteria to be considered as ‘known’ gaps. There may be information missing about the exact nature of the gap or its impact… If you hear that a competitor is introducing a ‘faster’ product sometime in the future, you might conclude that this could be significant. But without more information, it’s very difficult to assess the potential significance of the gap…
  • Make a list of triggers which may lead to gaps: Events, activities, announcements may trigger/signal a competitive gap in the future… Companies often signal much of what they plan to do through all types of disclosures. If we are in attuned with and track disclosures, you will get hints of future strategic directions, e.g; a competitor may have made patent filings, or purchased the assets of another company with specific technology competency, or active with venture investments in companies with complementary products…  Monitoring such a list of triggers can provide clues on whether or not a competitive gap is imminent…
  • List the key trends which affect the business: Tracking trends in markets, industry is critical, e.g.; there are broad trends, such as; things getting– smaller, faster, cheaper, more flexible… Also, trends in social media, lower energy consumption, increase in recycling, more emerging market support… these and other trends are increasingly becoming important. The key to trend monitoring to find the ones that most affect your customers, markets… The goal is to identify ‘triggers’ that describe the– what, when, how… competitors might gain some advantage…

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Gap Analysis is an assessment tool to help an organization’s leaders compare its current economic situation with its future expectations and outcomes… It’s a structured way to identify and bridge gaps between ‘desired’ organizational outcome and ‘actual’ outcome.

Gap Analysis conceptually is very simple to understand, but in practice it’s very difficult to implement: The big challenge is objectivity– it’s difficult for leaders to be ‘objective’, as well as; to be ‘inclusion’ and get the full ‘commitment’ of all the stakeholders; it’s critical for success of a Gap Analysis to involve all stakeholders in the process… According to Pasmore; only leaders make an organization come alive, only leaders can ‘bridges the gap’ between– strategy,  performance, outcome…

ISIS– Art of Terror Social Media Marketing– Change Society by Intimidation and Creative Propaganda: Rivals Madison Ave’s Best…

ISIS terror group are a savvy bunch, especially when it comes to using social media marketing they deploy creative marketing techniques that rival the sophistication of corporate branding and the best of Madison Ave’s P.R. campaigns to create haunting visuals and intimidating messaging… ISIS mixes new-social media savvy with medieval savagery: It’s a diabolical marketing strategy; methods that future terror groups will surely copycat. 

According to Soufan Group; like many disruptive entries into marketplaces, the ISIS ‘product’ (i.e., declaration of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq) was sneered by most of the world ‘establishment’, saying; ISIS is just another terror group, and there is nothing to fear… But, the ‘establishment’ was never the target audience; ISIS leaders are using social media marketing to send videos and messaging that will influence and recruit young potential extremists… their message is simply– ISIS is a revolutionary ideology and devout fighting force that is looking to massively disrupt the old social order (the ‘establishment’)…

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According to Jim Armitage; you can see the equivalents in the corporate world: the holy grail for many advertisers is to find ways of connecting to the next generation of young adults… To hammer that point home, see how ISIS is promoting the profiles of its teenage recruits, clearly encouraging them to publicize the outfit’s brand through their Facebook accounts and other social media, using the marketing techniques of media monitoring… with the savvy use of hashtags and clever, even if warped, videos making Twitter and other social media the perfect tools for the ISIS product… All great communicators from every age has understood how to use the tools of the time to their best advantage and to drive them with emotion and simplicity. These new media terrorists understand the impact of visual meme and how that feeds the global newswires to engage and shock the masses.

ISIS knows how to pierce the imagination and conscience to recruit, create fear… and they are engaging mostly young people who have grown-up in a disruptive technology age, and who are gaming crosses the reality divide and looking to grab headlines to affect people’s lives… These propagandists know exactly how to tell a story and leverage it at maximum speed across social channels, disrupting the well-oiled Western propaganda machines… Make no mistake this is a propaganda war and those that understand and know how to affect ’emotion’ will win. From very beginning ISIS understood the culture it wanted to attack and undermine… they understand that it’s vital to create high ’emotion’ among the masses in order to exercise social change… apparently the strategy is working, so far…

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In the article Making of the World’s Scariest Terrorist Brand by Marshall Sella writes: The James Foley video is impossible to watch with any degree of detachment… The first thing that draws your eye, naturally, is Foley’s prison-orange jumpsuit, and the perfect black of his captor’s own fitted clothing, including the perfect black balaclava that, in civilized society, long ago stopped being a ‘ski mask’.

Almost immediately, British press dubbed this man ‘Jihadi John’. As he speaks in what seems to be an English accent; John looms tall over the journalist. His height is accentuated by the fact that we don’t immediately see Foley’s knees, so there is the momentary illusion that John is some sort of giant… John’s hands rest at his side; his stance is wide. He is calm and mostly still. He appears to be left-handed, holding a small blade. There are leather straps slung over each shoulder, and the exact purpose unknown. His head is cocked at a 9-degree angle, to convey defiance and contempt… Foley reads his lines clearly, in an almost lilting cadence…

This is theater; and there is no way of knowing how many takes this film required –  or what mind-bending threats were quietly mentioned to the actor in order to help realize the auteur vision… All this while, at the upper left corner of the screen, we see the ISIS flag. The now-familiar square black-and-white banner, which has its origins in the eighth century…

Yet, for the first time, on the videos, we see that the banner logo is ‘waving’; it’s animated… That seems like a small thing, but this is no amateurish video– ISIS used three cameras as in a television drama… The color scheme in the Jihadi John videos is no small matter; that shade of orange in modern usage is often connected with the notion of ‘safety’, and it’s mainly prized for its ease of visibility.

The color orange is symbolic in many culture, e.g.; Buddhists associate orange with enlightenment; in the 21st-century West it’s the color of traffic cones, life jackets, even the airliners ‘black box’… its symbolism is used to ward off danger. And, ISIS is using the color orange to declare the ‘end of safety’, to usher in a new authority on what is visible and what is not. They’re are obliterating a modern color on their quest to restore many of the ancient ones…

According to Steven Heller; the use of symbols is not new, e.g.; Hitler used the swastika, Mussolini the black shirts… and when it comes to ISIS, there is less accident than meets the eye… now if you call yourself a ‘state’, or a terrorist organization, then this is what you do: ISIS knows and understands symbolism, e.g.; it dresses its people in black, and includes their flag in the video… They are astute social media marketing people, and they certainly are not idiots…

ISIS has reached marketing maturity, for example; the militants’ media portfolio  with  its slickly designed magazine ‘Dabiq’, the grim John Cantlie show… all of it  represents their messaging strategy in full: On one side of it, there’s the recruiting effort, beseeching life’s losers in the East and the West to come and be welcomed, to be a part of something. On other side, the message to those who will not join the cause is: We are going to destroy you, but first we will utterly defile you...

Terrorists have co-opted the social media marketing methods of the relatively innocent world of consumerism in order to pitch barbarism… But even if ISIS is scoured from the face of the Earth, no future terrorist group will forget its media… its innovations in branding, social media marketing will live on… but only imprinted with different logos, different actors… After all, it’s just an ad campaign, a bloody ad campaign, and people are buying it…

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In the article ISIS: Social Media Marketing and Murder by anonymous writes: ISIS videos are subtitled, captioned, edited… they are slick in a perverse way… Their team of experts work hard to publish their propaganda– they have a good knowledge and understanding of social media marketing… they have created their own ‘app’, which users of Twitter could download… and the ‘app’ sent out pre-packaged content from ISIS’ information headquarters on behalf of all the individual’s user accounts, and the ‘app’ spaced out tweets, in time, to avoid Twitter spam scrutiny… However eventually, Twitter did shut down the account of the author of the app and Google removed it from the store, but not before 40,000 tweets were sent out on the ominous day that ISIS marched on Mosul…

According to J.M. Berger; one of ISIS’s more successful ventures is an Arabic-language Twitter app called ‘Fajr al-Bashaer’ or ‘Dawn of Good Tidings’, or just Dawn. The app, an official ISIS product promoted by its top users, is advertised as a way to keep up on the latest news about the Jihadi group… ISIS also uses hashtags to focus group messaging and branding concepts, much like a Western corporation might…

ISIS appears to be getting anonymous photos supporting the caliphate– replete with drawings of their flag photographed against famous cultural backdrops worldwide– to bolster their social media marketing campaign, but it’s unclear just how much recruitment is successfully through online engagement. But they continue to work on ‘branding’ their particular goals and messages, unabated. They have a propaganda unit, the ‘Al Hayat Media Centre’, which produces high-production videos and a magazine…

According to Robert D. Kaplan; terrorism is theater and by choosing decapitation as the method for killing journalist and others… ISIS was ‘right on pushing the Internet social network button’, they chose the best method using a visually dramatic and brutal video… showing passion, deep belief, political protests… However, these dramatic visual effects have little meaning or effect on a large number of people, if they cannot be widely communicated through some commonly used broadcast media… and that’s where the Internet and social media marketing is ideal.

According to Andrew McKillop; Isn’t it interesting how Facebook bots will censor certain political posts, or how your page can be pulled down for a remark someone behind the communitarian curtain claims is ‘offensive’, while Jihadist and ISIS terror gangs are allowed to openly use same social media platforms  like; Twitter and Facebook for recruitment, ‘martyr selfies’, marketing, T-Shirt sales, and to post murder photos? According to Kaplan; we are back to a medieval world of morals and of medieval ritual theater, but in which the audience is now global… Any kind of theater needs trained and rehearsed actors, and the Internet and social media is providing the stage…

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According to Alice Speri; ISIS strength lies in the recognition of its brand, reach of its network, and its capacity to boost its Twitter presence through a combination of carefully crafted ‘official’ messages, as well as the buzz and volume of fans sharing content across the globe… And, whether or not their social media presence is exactly reflective of their numbers and power, ISIS have commandeered a great deal of online space…

There are different types of ISIS divisions on social media: the ISIS official media account, which publishes all its video releases, ISIS province accounts, which publish live feed info and pictures, the ISIS mujahideen accounts, where fighters talk about their experience and daily life, and ISIS supporters who according to them counter Western, Shia… propaganda and lies…

According to Abu Bakr al Janabi; social media marketing is good for building a network of connections and recruitment… for example; fighters talk about their experiences in battle, it encourage people to rise-up, and it encouraging supporters to defend, translate ISIS messages and ideology. ISIS controls their ‘central’ messaging using social media marketing with diversity of voices… all of  which seems to be working, at least for now…

Surveys and Dirty Little Secret; Hidden Distortion, Bias– Illusion of Scientific Validity: Business Beware

Surveys are one of the primary vehicles for collecting information that companies use for making important business decisions… According to Nick Wreden; when surveys can done right they can increase a company’s knowledge, understanding about key issues that affect their business… but when done poorly (and many are), they can derail a business strategy and generate misguided business initiatives…

More business rely on surveys to learn– what customers want, need, value… or, how employees feel about their job, the company, the management… or, where and how markets and their industry are positioned for growth… the list of survey topics is endless and surveys can be effective market research tools for many areas of an organization… But there are serious issues with many surveys, e.g.: What is the sampling methodology? Is the sample size large enough? Does it accurately reflect the population of interest? Are there biases?

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Answers to these and other issues are critical if a survey is to provide sound and useful observations and actionable results: Used properly, surveys can be a valuable tool in helping companies understand their strengths and weaknesses, and in helping to identify areas of emphasis and focus in order to improve the customers experience… However, when surveys are designed and used improperly… they become useless, waste of time, counter-productive…

According to Swanni: often the numbers obtained from surveys are based on what people ‘say’ they’ve done and, not necessarily, what they have ‘actually’ done– these are two very different things: People often tell surveys what they think they want to hear, and often times these responses are false… While survey numbers may be interesting to observe most of them should not be taken too seriously, since the ‘real-world’ numbers don’t really back them up…

In the article Dirty Little Secret of Employee Surveys by Robert Gerst writes: Each year, hundreds of thousands of employees from the executive suite to the front lines are asked to complete an employee survey… Almost a billion dollars worth of engagement surveys are sold in North America each year, and the case for improving employee engagement is impressive, for example: The Hay Group, a major survey provider, says that; high levels of employee engagement can boost revenue growth by up to two and a half times…

Aon Hewitt notes: 20% of the organization’s (most engaged) employees create 80% of the value… and the Gallup polling company, claims that– actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity… Numbers like these get attention, and it may be worth spending a billion dollars to get $350 billion back. But do surveys really working? Is business getting a ‘real’ return on the survey investment? For many companies, increasingly the answer is: No.

Worse, these surveys are more likely to do more harm than good, for example: The dirty little secret of employee engagement surveys is– they are largely junk science placing marketing objective of telling and selling a good story, above the practical and ethical objective of telling the truth Often statistical methods are misused corrupting survey results, while providing an air of scientific legitimacy…

Some organizations base their management bonuses on engagement score improvement, and managers are well aware that the fastest way to improving engagement is by firing anyone suspected of providing negative feedback. Many surveys are junk science, but they continue to be used in ranking engagement results, and in cherry picking factors comprising engagement models… OK; then should business get rid of surveys? No, but they must be truthful; stop promoting survey results as scientific validation…

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In the article Web Surveys’ Hidden Hazards by Palmer Morrel-Samuels writes: Web-based surveys are increasingly used to measure– employees attitudes and motivation, program effectiveness, staff performance, customers experience… However, few companies that embrace online surveys are aware of their fundamental problems…

Done correctly they can produce useful insights and observations that otherwise would not be available… But done poorly, they can dramatically distort survey results, which can lead business into making bad decisions… It’s interesting to note that Web-based surveys typically yield higher scores than print surveys, which produce lower response rates, more restricted range of responses– fewer very high or very low scores, and host of other distortions… 

An important issue with online surveys is ‘skewing’ of scores, which can undermine validity and reliability of the survey’s results… A few examples of ‘skewing’ are:

  • Opting Out: Response rates for Web surveys can be as much as 80% lower than those for their print counterparts… respondents often resist for a number of reasons, e.g.; difficulty accessing the survey, problems navigating through the questionnaire, concerns about confidentiality…
  • Sugar-coating: Poorly or bias designed Web surveys usually produce implausibly favorable responses… survey results are predetermined based-on; selection, design, phrasing of questions…
  • Skimming: In workplaces, printed surveys and Web surveys usually attract distinctly different respondents. The typical Web survey user has private access to a computer, holds greater responsibility, and is better paid. When a company offers both print and Web surveys, this self-selection bias means that the Web survey tends to skim higher-level respondents off the top, while lower-level employees stay with paper…
  • Clipping: Web surveys tend to elicit responses that are ‘clipped’, that is, they are artificially compress within range between high and low scores. Clipped responses can seriously impede analysis by excluding important information…
  • Re-shuffling: Web surveys almost always reshuffle rankings of scores. That is, when you compute the average response for each question in the survey and rank those averages from highest to lowest, the ranking from the two formats will most likely be different. This is serious because when the ranking of averages is disrupted, then correlations between questions are also disrupted. And it’s these correlations that determine the outcome of any analysis…

In the article Trusting Polls: Confidence Intervals and Survey Bias by Oleh Iwanyshyn writes: To survive a pollster (i.e., people who prepare, and/or conduct, and/or analysis surveys) learns very quickly that the most important factor in polling (i.e., process of doing surveys) is the relationship between the pollster and his or her client. The pollster realizes that the client must be satisfied with the results of the poll (i.e., survey), otherwise no more business. For most surveys, and human nature being what it is, pollsters usually understands that the client is not looking for ‘negativity’ from the survey results… 

So the most critical part of the survey (polling) process is when the pollster trying to figure out, in advance of the poll; which results will make the client happy/satisfied… Once the pollster has learned this important truth, then he or she can proceed to do the survey, i.e.; provide polling (i.e., survey) data that will make the client happy, i.e., tell the client what they want to hear… As you can appreciate, this ‘understanding of happiness’ has flipped everything upside down. Instead of surveys bringing ‘truths’, they are now marketing tools that provide an unearned ‘scientific’ validation to the speculative ideas of the client…

While this may be slight exaggeration, more often than not the dynamic between pollster and client is such that there is no doubt that this is the operative equation in organizing, conducting surveys…  This is why the most important question in assessing the merits of a survey is: Who is funding the survey?

There is a mountain of research evidence that survey results tend to be biased in favor of the interests of the clients who are funding the survey. The second key question in assessing the merits of a survey as it relates to its design… Since pollsters typically want to maximize profits, they can do it by minimizing the costs of the survey’s design and implementation, which usually means the ‘sampling’ is of less quality and more bias, which increase likelihood of flawed results that are distorted and less reliable…

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In the article Hidden Danger of Survey Bias by Fred Van Bennekom writes: Perhaps the topic most inquired in the field of surveys is response rates. What’s a good response rate? What’s the statistical accuracy with a certain response rate? But, what is often overlooked is that the ‘response rate’ is not the only concern, and that ‘bias’ in the response group is of equal concern, i.e,: It’s often suggested– that the greater the number of responses the better the statistical accuracy; but this is a false sense of security when there is bias in survey sampling. So it’s not possible to have a high degree of statistical accuracy, when there is bias in sampling or other misleading or bad data in the results… Which means that the survey is not a true or real representation of the actual population of interest.

Hence, most surveys are flawed; that is, the findings from the sampling used in the survey will not match (or even come close in many surveys) with the results that you would get if you successfully got everyone in the population to complete the survey. This difference is known as a sampling error, and the statistical accuracy tells you how much sampling error there is in the data…

However there is also a survey bias, which is different but it’s just as important as statistical accuracy… According to Roberta L. Sangster; surveys have hidden dangers that can turn them into swamps of– complexity, inaccuracies, bias, useless and unactionable results that fail to provide the basis for effective decision-making… Most important and very troubling are the many major management decisions that are made based on faulty data gathered from surveys…

Rethink Organizational Development– Its Relevance in Modern Organizations: Embrace Transformative Change…

Organizational development (OD) is a strategically planned initiative to increase an organization’s relevance and viability… It’s a new ‘template’: An organization-wide effort to increase its effectiveness and sustainability. Organizational development is a lifelong, built-in systematic process of implementing effective organizational change…

According to Warren Bennis; OD is a response to change, a strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of an organization so that it can better adapt to new technologies, markets, challenges, and the dizzying rate of change itself… However in recent years, serious questions have emerged about the relevance of OD for managing change or reinvention in modern organizations…

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The efficacy of organizational development is predicated on the adaptability of the organization and the overall successful integration of new ideas and strategies within an existing framework. Resistance to change is a fundamental organizational problem as all organizations have a degree of general inertia… Caution is replaced with accelerated action related to organizational development trends, and companies are realizing that today’s workforce has changed.

The 21-century workforce represents new challenges, more flexibility, higher demands coupled with the lack of specialists and highly skilled workers. This means that trends in OD must change to align with the challenges of the 21-century workforce for both current and future organizational needs…

The 21st-century workforce is compromised of tech-savvy, flexibility demanding, highly collaborative and engaged talent… Companies are faced with adding– new, innovative organizational development capabilities to share knowledge, improve corporate learning and education capabilities and connect with talent… Recent organizational development surveys conducted with business leaders around the world identify a number of common themes and initiative trends. The research identified three critical trends that are driving the OD agenda in coming years: worker attraction and retention, worker development and engagement; management leadership and succession… 

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In the article Emerging Trends in Organizational Development by Jonathan Mozenter writes: As opposed to the past, organizations can no longer depend on what they do today to be successful tomorrow. Organizations are facing changes on many frontiers, such as; increased competition, more complex business models… According to James Champy; organizations are changing quickly, e.g.; internal processes are being redesigned, new opportunities and strategies are emerging, organizational structure and relationships are shifting… and as a result; new information technology, systems, infrastructures are required, and the work of managers and workers are changing and requiring new skills, behaviors, motivations…

Constant change is the new normal and it’s a derivative of many economic, competitive forces, e.g.; technology is linking the world in way that were unimaginable just a few years ago… which means that companies are not geographically confined– they have more opportunities as well as, increased competition in globalized markets.

Hence, companies must continually change to keep up with times… organizations must adapt by taking advantage of their core competency, or by merging and acquiring other companies, or by developing strategic partnerships… These type of disruptions create chaos, which in turn are a cause of constant change… In order for companies to stay competitive, they must also continually adapt their organizations to meet the ever-changing and evolving needs of their employees, customers…

Companies must deal with constant change by continually reinventing themselves– by using non-traditional business models, by using new distribution and marketing channels, by recruiting and training exceptional talent– by developing key business relationships to access necessary non-core competencies, capabilities… all of these important initiatives create an imperative for organizations to actively, effectively manage constant change…

Constant change not only influences companies on the organizational level; but it also has ramifications at employee level: Employees no longer just serve a singular function or role, rather many employees move from project to project to mirror the changes in the organization. This constant change often causes employees to seek job opportunities elsewhere– employees are more mobile and many stay with the same organization for just short-terms, as opposed to the traditional life-long employment were they are seeking job security: The number one priority for most organizations is– recruiting, retention, and development of critical talent…

Companies must cope with all the issues caused by constant change by being flexible and able to constantly adapt, they must empower employees, they must have a diverse workforce in order to compete in today’s world markets. Managers need to focus on how to develop strategy in times of uncertainty…

According to Howard H. Stevenson and Jeffery L. Cruikshank; management must be predictable to both their employees and  their customers in order to build trusting relationships. Employees must know what is expected of them. Customers need to know that they can depend on an organization to provide satisfactory products, services… However, management cannot assume permanence in their predictions, decisions; they give it their best shot, but also commit to a constant cycle of; observation, calculation, prediction, action…

However over the long run; decisions, predictions are a perpetual process of re-calibration, rethinking… albeit with deep roots… The major forces of change (i.e., changes in technology, changes in alliances and partnerships, changes in structure of work, increase diversity in the work force, shifting demographics…) set the stage for new thinking about the principles and practices of organizational development in modern organizations…

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In the article New Era of Organizational Development by Brett R. Joseph writes: During its short history, organizational development (OD) has maintained a predominant focus on whole system interventions that served purpose of aligning complex organizational structure, strategy, culture, processes to optimize organizational performance… This focus on alignment reflected the assumption that organizational problems are for, the most part, internally generated and that external factors constituting the organization’s competitive environment remained relatively stable over time…

At height of the industrial era, it was reasonable to assume that a one-time OD intervention targeted at achieving optimal alignment of the key components of; structure, strategy, culture and processes could place an organization on a path of sustainable growth… However in short period of single generation, world has changed in very profound ways and organizations are continually confronted change– change in technology, change in competition, change in markets, change in worker expectations… Today, organizations large and small must contend with unprecedented 21st century context of a knowledge world that is dynamic, ever-changing, fast-paced…

The prevailing context for organizational development is– knowledge driven, technology, global, boundary-less, intellectual capital-intensive, interdependent, and culturally and ideologically diverse… Yet, even within this novel context, many managers continue to operate within the old paradigm that seeks to optimize organizational functioning in the same way that one might fine tune a machine contained within a static box…

Today, new OD thinking is required; OD that challenges the outdated assumptions of a bygone era that are out of step with present conditions… OD’s specialized knowledge and skills that help organizations break free from the old mindset… To those organizations that have adopted new OD thinking, and embraced their reality as a complex social systems with multiple purposes (e.g.; social, environmental, economic…), driven by imaginative leaders, in the face of perpetual uncertainty in an ever-changing, chaotic environment– Yes, it’s about time…

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According to Fahri Karakas; organizational development is becoming fuzzy with more dynamic and trans-disciplinary components… for a given organization to thrive over the long-term within a knowledge rich and continuously changing environment, it must function as a community with the acquired capacity to take in new knowledge, adjust to changing circumstances while remaining centered on its core mission.

Organizations must function as learning communities, they must unleash hidden human potentials that allow them not only to effectively respond to external changes, but also align their activities with intelligence, passion, and the highest aspirations of their community members… The organizational hierarchies and centralized control structures of the past are no longer viable strategies, and a move towards more participatory governance structures require leaders to skillfully confront;

What Dr. Aleco Christakis refers to as the– ‘unshakable human burdens of dialogue’: The burdens include; limits of human cognition, group pathology, unequal power relations; and these  burdens or barriers prevent many well-intended collaborative efforts from attaining their organizational ideals… Despite these challenges, a rethinking of OD can facilitate a shift away from reliance on rigidly defined inter-personal relationships and structures, towards a greater reliance on common processes and shared skills that allow people with divergent world views to sustain a generative dialogue and co-creative learning…

As for future of organizational development there are contradictory opinions that vary widely among practitioners; but nevertheless, the continuing interest-in and value-of optimizing an organization’s– ‘needs and goals’ and with respect to the ‘needs and wants’ of employees, customers, partners, stakeholders… indicate that organizational development will continue to be relevant-to and vital-for, organizational reform, either in its present form or through the evolution of hybrid models and practices…

Successful organizations leverage people practices; they are collaborative and future oriented… Through OD, organizations have the potential to change culture, build capacity, achieve goals and purposefully manage challenges in an ever-changing world…

Religion in Business– Challenge of Increasingly Religious Diversity in the Workplace: Touchy Issue, Many Potential Pitfalls…

Religious discrimination in business and in the workplace poses a tough challenge for employers and the courts of law. Religion in business brings some of the most difficult issues employers have to face, and resolving these issues requires understanding the law and balancing the business’s needs with an employee’s desire to practice his or her religion…

Religion and spirituality have more to do with business than most people think; it affects behavior, ethics, attitudes towards work, coworkers, and customers… According to one definition; religion is an organized set of personal or institutionalized attitudes, beliefs,  practices, ceremonies, rules… used to worship a god or group of gods that relate to an order of existence… Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the universe…

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Religion is a very important factor in business, and according to Jeaneen; religion is one of the more frequently mentioned determinants of the moral ethical values that underpin the standard behaviors and practices of a business. Hence, it may seem logical to assume that adherents to a religion is therefore less tolerant of unethical behavior. However, this assumption is often challenged when high-profile CEOs who are highly outspoken about their religious beliefs, practices… but at same time their companies are destroyed by the apparent consequences of unethical business practices…

But, often employers can be placed in ‘no-win’ situations when the religious-based demands of one employee might conflict with religious beliefs or basic rights of others… Religion is very serious business, and employers must balance increasingly complex issues, accommodations, conflicts…

According to Robert E. Gregg; given the number and variety of religions and the freedoms that most people enjoy to express their views, one might think that religion in business should not be difficult issue, but because of increasing religious diversity, discrimination is on the rise and poses tough challenges… In many workplaces there are religious issues that create serious friction, such as; employer and/or employees discussing, even arguing over religious principles or beliefs, or conflicts over various actions that religious people might practice, e.g.; styles of dress, manner of keeping or wearing one’s hair, trying to recruit others to their faith, or certain diets, praying, fasting, avoiding certain language or behavior, or observing religious holidays:

Put simply, there are many characteristics of different religions that provide ample opportunities for disagreement, conflict, even harassment among employers and/or employees…

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It’s the Law: First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides legal boundaries for an individual’s right to free exercise of their chosen religion. In the private sector, the matter of religion is governed by state and federal civil rights laws. The primary statute in this area is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits private employers from discriminating based on; race, color, religion, sex, national origin. Various state laws also prevent discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to make dress code and grooming exceptions for workers who follow religious practices that may not align with company policies…

Employers must provide accommodations to allow employees to honor their religious practices, as long as, it does not create an undue business hardship, e.g.; allowing a Muslim hijab is a religious garb accommodation, or facial hair policies for an individual whose religion requires an uncut beard is a grooming accommodation… Employers may not segregate, retaliate against employees who request or receive religious accommodations.

In general, employers covered by Title VII may only refuse legitimate religious accommodation requests if making the exception negatively affects the workplace, e.g.; security, safety, health… and pose an actual hardship on the business operation. In other cases, denying a religious accommodation is an illegal form of discrimination, and victims of religious discrimination in workplaces have the right to hold their employers responsible…

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In the article Employers Don’t Accommodate Religion in the Workplace by Joyce S. Dubensky writes: A recent national survey released by the ‘Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding’ says; more than one-third (over 33%) of workers report observing or being subjected to religious bias at work… Workplaces are becoming increasingly more religiously diverse, and that’s where people with different beliefs interact on a regular basis. And where there is more religious diversity is typically where you can expect to find more conflict…

Survey results also confirm that a majority of workers believe Muslims are facing discrimination at work, and the Muslim community is not alone… Other groups report being marginalized too, including members of other minority religions and atheists, but that is just part of the story… In fact, the survey shows that workplace discrimination is also a serious issue for many members of the Christian majority: Six in ten evangelical Protestants agree that discrimination against Christians has become as big a problem as discrimination against other religious minorities…

Religion is one key way that people define themselves, and are being harassed at work because of it, or not being allowed to follow basic beliefs, such as; observing a required prayer… Such experiences can affect morale and will ultimately impact a company’s ability to attract talent. If there’s one message from this survey, it’s that religion is a serious business and workplace issue; employers who ignore it, do so at their own risk… Other findings from Tanenbaum’s survey include:

  • Half of non-Christians surveyed believe that their employers are ignoring their religious needs…
  • Employees in companies without religious diversity policies are almost twice as likely to be searching for another job as their counterparts in companies with policies…
  • Among workers at companies where religious bias had been reported to managers or human resources, nearly one-third of workers report that the company took no actions to stop the bias…
  • Nearly six out of 10 atheists (59%) believe that people look down on their beliefs, as do nearly one-third of non-Christian religious workers (31%) and evangelical Protestants (32%)…
  • Atheists (55%) are substantially more likely than workers in any other group to report that they themselves face a lot of discrimination today…

In the article Religion in Business and Workplace is an Issue on the Rise by Hugh G. Willett writes: Statistics by EEOC indicate that complaints of religious harassment in workplaces are on the rise… In fact, according to Rosalind Hackett; religious harassment claims are second only to complaints about sexual harassment; it’s the second most problematic issue in the workplace… Globalization of business and economies combined with a more mobile society have increased diversity in the workplace…

Employees now bring a wider range of personal religious practices to the workplace, for example; different holidays, attire, diet, values and practices can lead to conflict with existing policies or beliefs. It’s an issue many businesses are not prepared to deal with, and most managers believe the way to avoid discrimination charges is to treat everyone in the workplace equally. While this may be possible in a homogeneous environment, often it’s not possible in the modern diverse workplace… Sometimes treating everyone equally means treating some people differently…

While it might be discrimination to not hire such an employee, courts have ruled that it’s acceptable to ask such employees to work in a part of the business where their attire would not, for example; effect interaction with customers… Employers have a duty of reasonable accommodation for their employees’ religious habits. Employers can refuse such accommodations if they were to put an undue burden on their businesses. This would include any loss of revenue to the business…

Reasonable accommodation also might include, a compromise that meets the needs of both parties… One problematic issues is the difference between beliefs and practices… While the notion that people are allowed to believe what they want is accepted, conflict can occur when a person tries to practice a religion that isn’t mainstream…

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Employers need to recognize that there is no clear definition of extreme behavior when trying to strike a balance… In some workplaces there is no clear separation of the corporate mission from religious beliefs, since religion is more than just worship and ritual… Within the holy books of every major religion are bedrock moral precepts and principles prescribing how true believers are to live their lives, and these beliefs might be in direct conflict with the mission of a business, for example; there might be references to– honesty, justice, fidelity, compassion, charity… and they leave no doubt about the role of ethics and personal virtue for both employer and employees at work…

According to Michael Josephson; the ancient truths and enduring values embodied in traditional religions are more than guidelines or suggestions about how to behave. To those who profess religious belief, moral and ethical behavior is not an option, it’s a mandate… These moral obligations are intrinsic to one’s beliefs and they apply to every decision business executives and employees must make…

According to Gina Ruiz; one way to mitigate risk is by establishing what one expert calls a ‘faith-friendly’ organization… Faith-friendly organizations go beyond just adhering to relevant laws on religious discrimination… These companies take into consideration the specific needs and sensitivities of many practices, including those that are outside of the traditional Christian-Jewish canons, encompassing, e.g.; Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other traditions that employees from all over the world are bringing to the workplace. The most frequently cited problems are related to a failure of employers to provide sufficient accommodations for believers, especially non-Christians…

According to Kate McFarlin; religious diversity in the workplace can bring a company many benefits in the form of different viewpoints. Managing religious diversity in the workplace, however, can be challenging… Tolerance and acceptance of different religious views in business is vital, as well as, being able to accommodate those who need extra time off or may have special needs that are dictated by their religious preference. By establishing a few guidelines and accommodations it’s possible to have a business and workplace that is enriched by its religious diversity…