It’s Oxymoron– Managing Risk and Uncertainty: An Organization Without Risk is Organization Stuck in a Rut…

Risk is a basic ingredient for innovation… Risk implies uncertainty and an inability to fully control the outcomes or consequences of an event… It’s an uncertain world and organizations must accept the fact that they operate in a world of unknowable risk… According to Donald J. Riggin; regardless of the nature of risk it’s impossible to manage; in fact, the expression ‘risk management’ is an oxymoron, because if risk was manageable it would no longer be considered risk…

However, understanding risks is a critical step to knowing how to deal it… According to Steve Tobak; the notion that– Big Risk beget Big Reward is nonsense… Whether it’s the world’s top– hedge fund traders, venture capitalists, real estate tycoons… these billionaire insiders look for opportunities that provide asymmetrical risk/reward… This is fancy way of saying that ‘reward’ is drastically disproportionate to ‘risk’…

In the article Decision-Making Under Risk and Uncertainty by Samia Rekhi writes: The starting point in decision-making is the distinction among three different states of a decision environments: certainty, risk, uncertainty. The distinction is drawn on the basis of the degree of knowledge or information possessed by the decision-maker… Certainty can be characterized as a state in which the decision-maker possesses complete and perfect knowledge regarding the impact of all of the available alternatives…

Often when making decisions the two terms ‘risk’ and ‘uncertainty’ are used synonymous… Both imply ‘lack of certainty’, but there is a difference between the two concepts; risk is characterized as a state in which decision-makers have imperfect knowledge– incomplete information but enough to assign a probability estimate to possible outcomes of a decision…

These estimates may be subjective judgments or they may be derived mathematically from a probability distribution… Uncertainty is a state in which the decision-maker does not have enough information to make a subjective probability assessments… It was Frank Knight who first drew a distinction between risk and uncertainty; risk is objective, whereas uncertainty is subjective… risk can be quantified, whereas uncertainty cannot… Uncertainty implies that probabilities of various outcomes are unknown and cannot be estimated… It’s largely because of these two characteristics that decision-making, in risk environment, involves primarily subjective judgment…

All business decision-making have common characteristics. The traditional approach requires precise information and thus often leads management to underestimate uncertainty and risk factors, which can be downright dangerous for an organization… According to Hugh G. Courtney, Jane Kirkland, and S. Patrick Viguer; making sound decisions under uncertainty requires an approach that avoids the dangerous binary view of risk…

Available relevant business decision information tends to fall into two categories… First, it’s often possible to identify clear trends, such as; market demographics… Second, it’s also possible to identify not so clear trends, such as; customer psychographics…The uncertainty or risk factors that remains tend to fall into one of four broad levels …

  • Level one: Clear enough future: The uncertainty is irrelevant and risk factors are relatively low for making decisions… hence, management can make reasonable precise decisions… Also management can use traditional information gathering, such as; market research, analyses of competitor costs and capacity, value chain analysis, Michael Porter’s five-forces framework, and so on…
  • Level two: Alternative futures: The future can be described as one of a few discrete scenarios… Although probability analysis is useful it cannot precisely identify which outcome is most likely to occur…
  • Level three: Range of futures: A range of potential futures can be identified… A limited number of key variables define the range and most likely outcome can lie anywhere within the range. There are no natural discrete scenarios for the outcome. Organizations in emerging industries or entering new geographic markets often face this uncertainty…
  • Level four: True ambiguity: A number uncertainties and risk factors create an environment that is virtually impossible to predict. And it’s impossible to identify a range of potential outcomes, let alone scenarios within a range. It might not even be possible to identify, much less predict, all the relevant variables that define the future. This situation is rare– black swan events– although they do exist.

Knowing how to assess risk is an organizational competency that must be fostered for long-term sustainability… To do so requires new language and tools to facilitate effective decision-making and decisive action. According to Ralph Jacobson; in developing business strategy it’s important to determine an organization’s ‘risk appetite’, i.e.; how much risk it’s willing, and can afford, to accept… This involves identifying and understanding the scope of risk required in a decision. Typically there are four options– avoid it, accept it, transfer it, share it…

But often decision-makers are confronted with unknowns– these are ‘unknown unknowns’… These unknowns are things that haven’t even been thought of as possible– black swan occurrence– rare but they do pop-up every now and then… situations where management tries to understand more about what they don’t know, than what you do know... These are precisely situations where innovation thrives– it’s when innovators push the edges, challenge status quo, break boundaries in the realm of uncertainty and risk taking. According to Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan; uncertainty suggests taking risks, going beyond the known and knowable– thinking scared, thinking stupid, thinking different…

Thinking scared is simply understanding that fear drives all decision-making– it might be the fear of taking action or fear of not taking action. These twin forces often govern negative behavior… but they can also be marshaled and used for positive motivation– the fear of missing out is perhaps most potent motivation in many organization. It’s human nature to resist change and this same nature can be used to drive innovation that embraces risk and uncertainty, and thinks beyond scared, thinks beyond stupid, thinks beyond different…

Golden Rules of Brand Value– Get Relevant, Get Focus, Get Edgy… or, Get Lost in Competitive Noise…

Brand value; everybody wants it; many struggle to achieve it… Few brands truly attain it… According to Seth Godin; brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much customers will pay extra, or how often they choose– the expectations, memories, stories, relationships of one brand over alternatives… And opposite of value is when an item or service has little or no perceived value… which means customers are not seeking it out and when they do, it’s merely one of the many choices… so, very likely, the cheapest offering will get the sale…  

An organization’s ‘brand value’ is promise of reputation, experience, quality… It encompasses everything about an organization, which is sometimes good, sometimes bad… and it all depends on the consumer’s perception. Brand value is progressive– it  gets multiplied every time a consumer chooses a specific brand over other brands… Hence, a clearly defined brand value gives consumers something to connect to, something to stay loyal to, something to stand-up for…

In the article Core Brand Values  by Julia Melymbrose writes: Value stand at the very core of a brand. Value is the center from which everything radiates, including; brand’s look (design), message (voice), relationships (customer service)… A brand is much more than a simple logo; a brand consists of two main ‘external’ aspects– Visual Identity, i.e., logo, colors, typography… Voice Identity, i.e., tagline, tone, styles…  Plus, a very important third ‘internal’ aspect: Brand Value... Brand value captures the three Ps of brand: Purpose, Proposition, Personality… 

For example; When you say brand value, you usually think about a monetary sum, e.g.; no-name pair of jeans could be worth $19, while Levi’s branded pair of jeans could be worth $119… Clearly there’s a difference in value based on the brand. A brand’s value is not simply how much people pay extra, e.g.; $100 more for pair of Levi’s over a unbranded pair, but also how often they choose the brand and the reason(s) they choose it… remember repeat business is tightly tied to value…

In the article How Much Are Brands Worth? by Paul Hague writes: A brand clearly has value to an organizations, because the value of the brand leverages the organization’s position in the market… Also the monetary value of a brand (worth in dollars) has become part of an intangible ‘asset’ known as ‘goodwill’, which is the extra worth of an organization over and above the value of physical assets… This means that many major brands are capitalized with monetary (dollar) value, and included as an ‘asset’ on the balance sheet of the organization…

According to ‘BrandZ Global Top 100 Most Valuable Brands 2016′ Report; the brand value is defined as the dollar amount that a brand contributes to the overall value of an organization… In 2016, the value of the world’s 100 biggest brands saw a high growth of 133%, totaling $3.4 trillion... According to the Report; these organizations tend to leverage ‘innovation’ as their key differentiator for brand success… and that meant improved consumer experiences, greater revenue.

In the article How to Calculate Brand Value by Laura Lake writes:  What is a brand really worth? There are various ways to approach the valuation of a brand but since the concept of value means something different for different people, it’s difficult to get a consensus on one  methodology. However, it’s probably fair to say that brand valuation is more of an art than a science… But it’s important for organizations to identify, develop value for their brand, as well as, a value proposition for the brand. There are various methods for valuing brands and here are a few:

  • Cost-Based Brand Valuation: This method of valuation uses the accumulation of costs that were incurred to build a brand since its inception, and it includes items such as; historical advertising expenses, promotion expenditures, cost of campaign creation, licensing, registration… While costs can be collected and used, the total dollar amount does not necessarily represent the current value of a brand… The brand value using this method may be equal to historical or replacement costs for a brand, but not necessarily its market value…
  • Market-Based Brand Valuation: This method of valuation uses a comparison of an organization’s brand to other similar brands that were valued… It uses comparable market transactions like a specific sale of a brand, comparable company transactions, and/or stock market quotations… It’s the market-based value that a brand can be sold for on the open market… The brand value is equal to market transaction price, bid, or offer for identical or reasonably similar brands, but not necessarily its replacement value…
  • Income-Based Brand Valuation: This method of valuation is often referred to as the ‘in-use’ approach. It considers the valuation of future net earnings that directly attribute to the brand to determine the value of the brand in its current use… The brand value is equal to present value of income, cash flows, or cost savings actually or hypothetically due to the asset…

Brands are psychology and science brought together as a promise of value… Brand value conveys– quality, credibility, experience… Many companies assigns a monetary value to the brand as an asset on the balance sheet, and it becomes part of the overall value (net worth) of the company… Branding is fundamental, it’s basic, it’s essential… and without a brand with value, it’s probably a good indication that the organization is valueless… According to Scott Goodson; brand value inspires millions of people to join communities… brand value activates passions that can change the fortunes of organizations…

The greatest brand value is built on a strong idea… an idea that an organization can hold on to, can commit to, and can deliver upon. But brand value needs to permeate the entire organization. When the entire organization is clear on the value of a brand and delivers on the promise of a brand– it fuels increased customer awareness, loyalty… and greater revenue growth.

CEO-to-CEO Lessons Learned– Peek in Corner Office: Challenges, Frustrations– Failure, Crisis, Fear, Uncertainty…

Being CEO is tough; world economies are expanding rapidly and companies are shaped by changing trends in– technology, internet, social media… and changing consumer mindsets and consumption patterns… New markets are emerging, old markets are disrupted, business models are becoming obsolete, new business models are pushing boundaries for the ways business is done.. No wonder the role of CEO is changing, but many fail to learn the lessons required to survive and thrive…

According to Evan Davies; CEOs must expand their thinking and become knowledge seekers, even when they think they know it all. They must make learning an active part of their day, seeking out experts, and encouraging the same of their team… It’s a global economy and CEOs would do well to understand the big picture– the business climate, market conditions, competitive landscape, regulatory environment, and strategic risks… Prevailing standards for corporate governance have become more formal, more rigidly codified, and more universal across international boundaries…

According to Kathleen Ekins: CEOs are sticking around longer than they should… The average tenure of a departing S&P 500 company CEO is 9.7 years. It hasn’t been that long since 2002, and study by Temple University suggests that this number could be problematic for many companies… The study measured the performance of CEOs over time and found the ‘optimal life span’ of CEOs is just 4.8 years. It concluded that after about five years, chief executives will rely more on their internal network rather than information that comes from outside markets…

This tendency to focus inward causes for some CEOs to become less attune to market conditions, customers, which ultimately hurts the company…  So, why do many CEOs over-stay their welcome when it can jeopardize the organization? According to Charles Wardell; there are three main reasons CEOs either, step down or are asked to leave:

  • Burn out or loss of enthusiasm for the job:  When CEOs begin to realize that their skills aren’t matching-up, or their enthusiasm is waning, or they’re tired of the constant responsibility…
  • External changes in the market: Often times the market dictates, causing the business proposition to change so radically that the skills of the CEO don’t mesh-up with needs of the organization…
  • Board of Directors decides enough is enough: Pushing a CEO out for whatever reason– age, competency, vulnerability… can cause turbulence and tension within a company, making for a less than ideal transition. A smooth transition at the top can never be guaranteed. This makes the change in leadership that much more scary, causing CEOs to stay-put longer than they should…

In the article Lessons CEOs Need to Learn by Rick Spence writes: Today, the captains of industry aren’t so much running the ship as manning the pumps, trying to stay afloat in the global marketplace. Not just in economic terms, but in all the categories that count, e.g.; leadership, innovation, leveraging technology, finding new ways to sell globally and mastering social media, which is crucial to reaching niche audiences…

According to Michael E. Porter, Jay W. Lorsch, Nitin Nohria; CEOs must come face-to-face with some paradoxes in leadership, e.g.; the more power CEOs have the harder it is to wield it without demoralizing other stakeholders in the organization… Although the CEO bears full responsibility for the organization’s fate… but often they don’t control most of what determines it…

So how does a CEO succeed? First, he/she must understand the essence of the role, such as ; creating conditions that help others excel, spend time articulating strategy, installing sound processes, mentoring key people... Second, CEOs must learn and master the skills and insights that are required to run 21st Century organization… For example:

  • CEOs cannot run organization alone: As demands from external constituencies (shareholders, board members, politicians) mount, control over internal operations recedes… Shift from direct to indirect means of influence; articulate clear strategy, establish guiding structures and processes, setting values and tones… while selecting the right management team to help run the company…
  • CEOs giving orders is costly: Over-ruling the thoughtful decisions made at lower management levels erodes confidence… Decision-making grinds to a halt as subordinates begin checking with the boss before proceeding on anything. Instead, promote agreement about decision-making criteria, share power, and trust others to make key decisions…
  • CEOs often don’t know what’s really going-on: Bad news is often withheld from CEOs fearing that they will shoot the messenger. How to get solid information? Engage managers, employees… at all levels to hear– ideas, opinions, suggestions…
  • CEOs are always sending a message: CEOs every move and every message– inside and outside the organization– is scrutinized and interpreted… CEOs must carefully consider how audiences might interpret their every actions, communications…
  • CEOs are not the boss: CEOs boss is the board of directors. They set compensation, evaluate performance, overturn strategy, and fire the CEO… Yet many directors have limited knowledge of the organization– its industry, markets, competition, technology, management, employees, partners… It’s in best interest of the CEO to educate and regularly collaborate with the board…
  • CEOs are only human: The rewards and adulation that come with being CEO can tempt acts of hubris… Make a disciplined effort to stay humble. Revisit decisions. Find forthright people and listen… Maintain connections to family, friends, community, hobbies… to avoid being consumed by the job…

Why do CEOs Fail? According to Ram Charan, Geoffrey Colvin; It’s an intriguing question and one of deep importance not just to CEOs and boards of directors, but also to investors, customers, suppliers, alliance partners, employees, and the many others who suffer when the top man stumbles… Some pundits opine when they see problems with CEO’s grand-scale vision, strategy… Yep, CEO must go because his/her strategy is not working…

But is it really a flawed strategy? Not according to others who say; the strategy is sound, but it was bad execution; it’s not getting things done, indecisive, not delivering on commitments… Although pundits are not saying; the CEOs who fail are dumb or evil… In fact, they tend to be intelligent, articulate, dedicated, accomplished… They work hard, made sacrifices, and have performed terrifically for years… So how do CEOs blow it? Probably the most often cited reason it that they fail to put the right people in the right jobs… and the related failure to fix people problems in time…

Also, what is so striking is that most CEOs usually know that there is a problem but their inner voice suppresses it and they won’t openly acknowledge it, and take remedial action… As one CEO said; it was staring them in the face but they refused to see it; the failure was one of– emotional strength… They just weren’t worrying enough about the right things: execution, decisiveness, follow-through, people, delivering on commitments…

 

Internet Exceptionalism or Not– internet (small ‘i’) vs. Internet (Capital ‘I’): To Capitalize or Not… Who Decides?

It’s a grand debate: Whether or not to capitalize the word– ‘internet’ (small ‘i’) or ‘Internet’ (capital ‘I’): Capitalization, to some, suggests– ‘internet exceptionalism’… where exceptionalism is the perception that it’s something very special, exceptional (i.e., unusual or extraordinary) in some way… According to Tim Wu; what is it about the Internet that makes it exceptional? Is the internet any different from say; computers, or smartphones, or electricity, or automobiles… The debate may appear trivial but there are many prominent– media, institutions, businesses… not to mention millions of private individuals who are in the habit of capitalizing or not capitalizing the word ‘internet’, and see no reason to change… 

This capitalization wars came when Associated Press (AP) style-guide announced that its stipulating lower-case for words, such as; internet, web, email… The AP is not the first style-guide to insist on lower-case for many technology-related words, many other media outlets prefer lower-case, as well… This tug-of-war has been going on for years with stylistic guidelines by many respected media sources, including; New York Times, Guardian, Economist, Wired News, Huffington Post, Chicago Manual of Style, Webster World College Dictionary… and many online and print media organizations…

In the article Should You Capitalize The Word Internet? by Katherine Connor Martin writes: Research shows that the capitalized form of the word ‘Internet’ is slightly more common, than non-capitalized ‘internet’ version… Over the past few years, the proportion of evidence for the two forms has remained relatively steady with Internet (capital ‘I’) having an edge, accounting for about 60%… It’s interesting to note that dictionaries are relatively inconsistent on this issue since they are lagging indicators of language change, hence waiting for usages to become settled before committing, and this particular change is still underway... Research also suggest there are geographic preferences in usage, e.g.; in UK, the preference for lower-case ‘i’ seems to be more dominant… whereas in the U.S., the capitalized form ‘I’ retains an edge… and preferred usage in other countries also varies…

According to Michael Straker; Internet is a contraction of  the word ‘inter-connected network’ and historically, the governing bodies that set internet standards have treated the word as a proper noun, capitalized… This was handy to differentiate various types of ‘internets’– worldwide set of ‘inter-connected networks’ from just any ‘inter-connected set of computer networks’… And so the argument was made that since the Internet is ‘exceptional’, it therefore deserves the preferential treatment bestowed upon proper nouns… But, in fact, earliest use of the word ‘internet’ was a lower-case ‘i’ cited in Oxford Dictionary in 1974.

In the article Why ‘Internet’ Should Not Be Stripped of Its Proper Noun Status by Amanda Edens writes: The Associated Press, one of the most widely followed authorities on writing style, has lower-cased the word ‘internet’ in their style-guide… According to the AP; hence forth it will use lower-case for words, such as; ‘internet’, ‘web’, ’email’… in all instances. This decision sparked much debate in the editorial and technology industries and beyond… But it’s not the first time that AP’s style-guide changes has caused ripples, and perhaps even confusion. Case in point: why in the world is there a hyphen in ‘e-commerce’, but not ’email’?

The word ‘Internet’ originated as the adjective ‘inter-netted’, basically meaning ‘inter-connected’ when describing a network of multiple computer networks… ‘Internet’ eventually replaced ‘inter-network’ as the standardized term, evolving from an adjective into a noun… There’s a distinction between ‘an internet’, which simply refers to one of those networks of networks, and ‘the Internet’, the global network of networks… So what exactly determines whether ‘the Internet’ should be a proper noun, deserving of capitalization? According to AP; let ‘usage dictate style’ and that suggests that there is no need for capitalization… On the other hand, Slate magazine makes a compelling argument the Internet is ‘exceptional’, hence it deserves capitalization.

In the article Should You Capitalize the Word Internet? by Susan C. Herring writes: This tug-of-war has been going on for years. Should the word ‘internet’ be spelled with a ‘i’ or ‘I’… There are legitimate reasons for capitalizing and compelling reasons for non-capitalizing. These competing forces are engaged in a back-and-forth tug of war, resulting in inconsistency in the spelling of the word… According to Bob Wyman; the ‘I’ should be capitalized to make clear the difference in meaning between the Internet (the global network that evolved out of ARPANET, the early Pentagon network), and any generic internet, or computer network connecting a number of smaller networks…

Indeed, the earliest citations from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in the 1970s, referred to ‘internet’ in the generic sense and spelled it with lowercase ‘i’, whereas later OED examples refer to the global network, using a capital ‘I’. According to Chris; the debate– internet (‘i’) vs. Internet (‘I’)– is a difference without a distinction. Or is that a distinction without a difference? Either way: While it matters very much to some people, it’s all the same to others… Also, would you believe that in some circles a full caps version (INTERNET) once held sway?  While some media abandoned the big ‘I’ awhile back…

The choice is really up to the individual. However, you should always be consistent; if you adopt AP’s recommendation, then use it all the time. Don’t complicate things– and annoy your readers– by shifting back and forth… Linguistic choices have social consequences, even if the choice involves something minor as capitalization. Some experts suggest that the issue of capitalization is a political choice– geeks vs. non-geeks… For some capitalizing the word ‘Internet’ signifies sense of importance, better yet it suggests– Internet exceptionalism… for which many may, or may not agree with…

Most Organizations Are a Kludge– Fundamentally Broken And Many Are Just Held Together with Duct Tape…

You hear it daily: Government is dysfunctional, nothing gets done, conflict, confrontation… these are just a few signs that the process of government is broken… But these are also the signs and realization that many corporation, organizations… have the same issues. More often than not organizations are broken in some capacity, e.g.; customers are being ignored, internal processes are running amok, Internet website is a ghost town, productivity is down, expenses are out of control, profits are non-existent, management cannot agree on a strategy… And yet many corporations continue to function… these organizations might be described askludge, clumsy, messy, lack of decisive decision-making… they have ugly structures that more or less deals with issues but in very inefficient way– they are kludges that are held together with duct tape…

Kludge (rhymes with nudge), Oxford English dictionary defines it as; to improvise or put together from an ill-assorted collection of parts…  According to Sheryl King; kludges can also be seen as– innovative allowing an organization to stay-up and running despite its clear need for a more fundamental solution to improve performance… Quick fixes enable organizations to achieve a near-term operational continuity, but at expense of sustained corporate innovation and performance… In a nutshell, the more organizations opt for kludging, the more they are on the road to ultimate failure… However, many organizations become habitual kludgers and muddle forward…

In the article Organizations Are Broken by Greg Satell writes: It’s an era of technology but many organizations are not capable or smart enough to keep pace with the changing disruptive landscape… the changes are ubiquitous but many organization don’t know have to deal with them… Yet much like organizations themselves– the strategic planning process, which is the fundamental tenet of corporate strategy, has become a victim of its own success… In the quest to strive for ever greater efficiency, rather than more innovation– the process is getting more complicated, more granular, cumbersome… and the outcomes are marginal at best…

Management needs to rethink and shift their strategic model from– ‘pushing’ workers to achieve, instead to ‘inspire’ workers to achieve… According to Jack Welch; our planning system was dynamite when we first put it in… thinking was fresh and the actual ‘process’ of planning mattered little– it was the ‘ideas’ that really mattered. We then hired a head of planning and he hired two vice presidents, and then he hired a planner; and the ‘strategy books’ got thicker, and the ‘printing’ got more sophisticated, and the ‘covers got harder’, and the ‘drawings’ got better, but the ‘results’ got poorer… This is a sure sign that the organization is broken…

In the article Top Signs That an Organization Is Broken by Liza Mock writes: Are you and the people you work with happy? Is it easy to get your job done without jumping through hoops? If yes, chances are that your organization is healthy… If not, there is a fundamental flaw in the way your organization is structured… Consider these common mistakes:

  • Structure That’s Out-Of-Touch: An out-of-date organizational structure where the old hierarchy that management embraces remains in place, but it no longer reflects marketplace reality… A ‘stay with the status quo’ strategy keeps the organization from thriving… and it’s a sure sign that the organization is broken…
  • Unclear Roles & Responsibilities: Unclear management roles are one of the biggest sources of conflict within an organization. This leads to confusion, unmet expectations, and ultimately makes people feel demoralized and a common source of organization dysfunction… and it’s a sure sign that an organization is broken…
  • High Attrition Rate: When workers feel powerless they become disengaged and ultimately don’t  care much about work, which in turn leads to high attrition rates… A high turnover rate is a sure sign that an organization is broken…

In the article Fix A Broken Organization by Ben Peterson writes: Have you ever seen what happens when an organization goes bad? Spoiler alert; it’s not good… When you don’t have the right strategy, the right culture, the right talent… then the consequences are disastrous… Overcoming a broken organization is never easy– when you see signs of trouble, or when you are looking to achieve better results, then be prepared to take some difficult steps... Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Rebuild with best principles, not just best practices: This means focusing on principles, not practices. Take time to identify the organization’s DNA… Do an honest organizational assessment; identify its purpose and the things that inspire your customers, employees, management… and clearly define the mission and vision statements… these principles establish a firm foundation for the organization…
  • Be humble and open: Rebuilding an organization is hard, and it requires everyone ‘to be the very best they can be’, beginning with management… and they must show genuine humility and acknowledge the organization’s shortcoming with stated actions to fix them…
  • Rip and replace: When fixing a broken organization you can’t always afford to spend time tweaking failed strategies and initiatives… Find the elements that are not working and simply replace or eliminate them… Dig deep and figure out what exactly motivates the team, the customers, the partners, the suppliers… not just financially, but psychologically as well…
  • Implement values: Defining cultural values for the organization means nothing if they are not integrated into everyday work… Finding the right people and, perhaps equally important, weed out those who don’t share the organization’s common values are key to fixing a broken organization…

Keep your eye on the gauges: All organizations need maintenance to survive and thrive… It’s an ongoing process that requires constant attention and care. It requires honest and continual assessment of all the factors that impact performance of the organization. Hence, always be prepared, at any time, to make any necessary adjustments, within exception, to fix a broken priority in the organization or speed-up the journey to an ultimate goal…

 

Delusion of Diversity in Workplaces– Good, Bad, Necessity: More Diversity of Thought is Needed on the Subject of Diversity…

Diversity is often referred to as the key to innovation in business and crucial for companies that want to attract and retain top talent. But is it always the answer? Research has shown diversity alone is harmful for some individuals and organizations. It has been linked to lower revenue, slower decision-making, increased conflict, absenteeism, missed opportunities… Diversity is a technique and not an end in itself; it needs to be balanced against other considerations, e.g.; some business skills are concentrated in– certain locations, certain groups of people, certain cultures…

Narrowness can be a source of strength and cohesion and not a sign of weakness… According to Jonathan Levy; diversity comes in many different shapes and sizes, and differences can include visible and non-visible factors. Whether that’s background, culture, personality, work-style, size, accent, or language. Or personal characteristics like age, disability, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation… With so many differences, how do you manage diversity?

According to Evan Apfelbaum; companies promote diversity in the workplace as moral imperative with ‘bottom line benefits’… But research on its value is mixed: Some studies have found diverse teams– meaning work groups composed of workers from different– backgrounds, races, genders…  promote creativity, nurture critical thinking… and tend to make better and more thoughtful decisions, because they consider a wider range of perspectives…

Other studies indicate diverse teams fuel interpersonal conflicts, reduce cohesion, and slow the pace of learning… The trouble with past research is it assumes only diverse settings are capable of changing how people behave, form impressions, make decisions… According to Dr. Thomas Sowell; nothing so epitomizes the politically correct gullibility as the magic word ‘diversity’, and it’s essentially a fancy buzzword for ‘group quotas’, which is a subjective criteria used to measure hiring practices within many organizations…

In the article Business Case Against Diversity by Tina Vasquez writes: The business case for diversity has become a popularly held belief and the reasoning behind it is very simple: When a corporation’s management and workers are too much alike, they think too much alike and in turn, look at both problems and solutions the same way… By contrast, having a more diverse group in these positions leads to more diversity of solutions, innovations, better governance, and the type of outside-of-the-box thinking so desperately needed in the corporate world… Unfortunately, there is a growing body of evidence that seems to suggest diversity does not deliver as promised… Many companies have reported little to no change in their performance.

Even more unsettling is the idea that making efforts to diversity the workplace is actually creating conflict and toxic work environment. According to Dr. John-Francoise Manzoni, Dr. Paul Strebel, Sandoz, Dr. Jean-Louis Barsoux; diversity may be prize in theory, but the truth is that workers often feel baffled, threatened, or even annoyed by other workers with views and backgrounds very different from their own… According to Professor Katherine Phillips; when organizations bring in people with different cultural, gender, ethnic backgrounds, contrasting experiences; its hoped that they offer different perspectives and opinions about any given issue, e.g.; it’s assume that a black manager and a white manager working together on an issue will come up with divergent ways to solve the problem…

But such assumptions have implications that we tend not to think deeply about, e.g.; First, when individuals work together in a group, any unexpected perspectives will come from workers who are different– the black person in a group of whites, or the marketing person in a group of engineers… will bring forward a different point of view that the group can benefit from… Second, even more important, is that workers who appear to be similar to each other, such as; two middle-aged white men, will share same views… And is it realistic to assume that all superficially alike people think alike?

In the article Workplace Diversity by William Powell writes: We have been saturated with the idea of diversity in organizations… We have heard about the benefits and how organizations are less productive when they have less diversity. Lack of diversity is equated with racism, bigotry, discrimination, host of other negative connotations… Diversity has devolved into a metric that organizations use to show they are ‘progressive‘…

It has become a part of marketing and recruiting campaigns and its diminished the original need for diversity into nothing more than a metric that’s supposed to make organizations feel warm, gooey and accepting as if they have reached a state of enlightenment… What good is it if the diverse nature of workers have no voice or outlet for expression in an organization? What good is diversity if it’s in direct opposition to what is actually needed in an organization…

In the article Diversity Is Bad for Business by Jack Manhire writes: The fact is that in a global marketplace diversity alone is often bad for business. Yes, the range of economic and demographic trends demands greater diversity in organizations but diversity by itself typically ends up being a quota system… or according to Laura Liswood; it’s Noah’s Ark approach by selecting– two of these, two of those, two of the others…

All too often, those hired to fill the quotas soon learn that they are not hired for their unique skills and they are not included in the ‘inner circle’ of the organization… This leads to a feeling of exclusion with the only hope for getting into the ‘inner circle’ being to assimilate and leave one’s true self at the door, and to act more like everyone else. Then guess what happens when workers feel excluded or forced to assimilate? They leave the organization! Hence, diversity often leads to more turnover and drives down an organization’s  performance… It’s for these reasons that both; diversity and inclusion are necessary for a high performing organization…

Studies show that diverse organizations with low inclusive culture have lower profitability, higher attrition rates, less employee discretionary effort, and less likely to capture new markets… On the flip side, diverse organizations with high inclusive culture have greater market share, higher discretionary effort, higher intentions for management and workers to stay with the organization, and enjoy an operating profit that is almost three times higher than non-inclusive organizations… Hence diversity alone is bad for business, but inclusion and a sense of belonging are the keys that unlocks the rich performance benefits of a diverse workforce…

Managing the Balance Between– Negativity and Positivity– in Workplace: Organizational Success is All About Attitude…

Negativity is a kind of cancer that occurs in most organizations… Every organization seems to have at least one person who has a tendency toward negativism– You know the type: ‘No, that will never work’, or ‘That’s stupid’,  or ‘That’s impossible’… According to Eric Friedman; no organization can escape occasional bout of negativity; whether it’s complaining about company policy, or working conditions, or frustrated with a management hire, or bitching about the terrible coffee… When left unchecked, negativity can dramatically impact organizations; its moral, productivity, profitability, reputation...

However according to Gareth Cartman; imagine a world without negativity– smiles everywhere, acquiescence everywhere… In a world free of negativity, you would do everything. You would never question anything, you would just get on with things and do it. Yay for positivity! Hurrah for positivity! But after a while things start to go wrong. The idea that nobody questions– a project, a decision, a new product… that everyone thought was so brilliant– but then things go so badly awry… But hey, let’s all be very positive until the whole organization falls apart because no one wanted to be negative…

In the article Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace by Jeanne Bliss writes: Negativity can be brutal: I’m not even talking about normal culprits like; gossip or ineffective management… yes, that’s part of it and that’s certainly negativity but it goes beyond that– it’s a cancer in workplaces… It’s about worker engagement, careless attitude… which has huge implications for the success of an organization… If workers are– unhappy, disengaged, negative… then the organization will suffer and eventually fail, if not corrected…

Research from MIT’s Sloan School of Management showed that most workplaces lack clear organizational priorities… Only one-third of senior managers could correctly identify the organization’s priorities. When you drop 2-3 levels below senior management, it’s essentially a vacuum around priorities… which means middle management are self-prioritizing themselves, and that means front-line workers (i.e., ones closest to customers) are working on priorities that may or may not have resonance to the actual organizational priorities…

Hence, when workers priorities are unclear and constantly shifting, engagement begins to drop, and negativity in the workplace begins to rise… It varies by company and industry but this can be a major root cause of negativity in the workplace… Overcoming negative thinking in the workplace revolves around three basic workers’ issues:

  • Empower Workers: Empower workers to be creative in work assignments– let them have ownership over their work– don’t micromanage every aspect of their work. Let them show their skill sets– and if they mess-up or do something off-brand or not customer-aligned, then course correct with them…
  • Recognize Workers: One sure-fire way to establish negativity in the workplace is when workers do not feel rewarded… Most studies indicate workers leave– their managers, not their jobs. Hence, honor workers’ accomplishment and recognize their achievements…
  • Respect Workers: Trust and respect workers… yes, they won’t always be perfect and when they’re off-base then course correct with them… More trust, more empowerment, more respect, more recognition– begets less negative thinking in the workplace…

In the article Dealing With Negative Workers by Jacqueline Whitmore writes: Most everyone has  encountered workers who stay in an organization for years, all the while complaining on a daily basis about– the boss, the organization, colleagues, customers… it’s tiring just thinking about it… However, it’s important to remember that complaints, much as we may not want to hear them, often unearth legitimate issues…

The danger is falling into the trap of responding to a complaint with another complaint– competing complaints– its one-upmanship of the worst kind. Perhaps you work with people who complain endlessly but never offers solutions. These negative people create destructive energy and drama, and if you are not careful, they can pull you into their chaos; disrupting your focus, side-lining your goals, tarnishing your reputation. According to Susan M. Heathfield; the way you deal with negative people is by spending as little time with them as possible.

Set limits with coworkers whose negativity you believe is baseless or unwarranted… The reason or cause of their long-term negativity are not your concern… Every negative worker has a story, but you cannot get sucked-in by listening to grievances that cause their negativity– don’t reinforce negativity by giving it legitimacy; negativity is a choice. Negativity mongers need to do something different– a new job, a new company, a new career, a new outlook, or counseling…

In the article Why Negativity is a Good Thing by Alexia writes: The psychological world is wrong: Negative thinking is a good thing in many organizations. Too much time is spent trying to think positive about everything… blocking negative thoughts, chanting positive affirmations and focus on images that make you feel good… It’s the blind belief that only positive thoughts are good thoughts… But negativity is a good thing, too. Without negative thoughts good things never happen…

Negativity is what makes you question what you are doing, and without it you will never see the potential pitfalls in what you are doing… Few organizations appreciate the potential in negativity. They attempt to manage negative thinking out of the workplace, and insist that only positive thinking is allowed. Managers should surround themselves with people who ask questions, people who doubt, people who say ‘this will never work’, even when it appears to be working…

Every organization must have a balance of people– positive thinkers and naysayers… people who question decisions, question the processes, question the results, question how the results were obtained… At times it can be very painful but you must listen to all legitimate points of views. The days of believing that everyone in the workplace– manager, worker… will blindly follow every decision is naive, at best: Perhaps it’s time to be more positive about negativity…   

Subtle Shifts in Business, Leadership, Management, Organization, Strategy, Innovation– Bring Big Results…

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