Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Outcomes Follow Leadership Styles

 While the overall behaviors of organizations are influenced by history, business models, and organizational culture, the leadership style also has a significant influence on current outcomes. If a particular leadership style persists through generations of CEOs, it can have a make or break impact on the organization itself over the long run. There is a strong tie between the successful background of the CEO and the outcomes. Often leadership styles emanate from where the CEO grew up in organizations. Let's dive into some of the typical tributaries for CEOs and what influence their upbringing has on outcomes both short and potentially long-term. The skills honed in these contributing departments get magnified when put at the top of an organization. 


If a leader comes from the investment side of an organization, they are likely to be focused on what part of the organization should be grown or invested in to take the organization to the next level. Outcomes will be focused on balanced growth in a portfolio mindset looking for rates of return for each investment with careful maintenance and growth for long-term success. There will be an emphasis on planning. The weakness here would be keeping an eye on short-term results and letting issues go too long. 


If a leader comes from the finance arm of an organization, they are focused on short-term results. Often there is an emphasis on cost-cutting efforts. It is all about the numbers and short-term key performance indicators. They are at their best during downturns, but they often tend to forget the employees and customers. Often they are called "bean counters" If left to their own devices, they can negatively affect culture, loyalty, and business model over the long term. 


Leaders that bring operational excellence in their bag of tricks are looking to optimize the organization so that it works well and in unison. Things that are out of order and not optimized will be targeted for improvement with this style of leadership. There is an emphasis on collaboration and teamwork under this brand of leadership. The weakness may be forgetting the top line and the necessary changes that new trends might require. This is a smooth operation that hates any change to hard-won operational excellence.  

Sales and Marketing:

Leaders from this bolt of cloth want growth therefore they will sell the dickens out of what they already have on the shelves. They are great at setting goals for growth and incenting the sales staff to move products as fast as possible. They have a blind spot to the cost of sales and are not great at wanting or defining new products or services. There is a make product faster mentality, so we can sell faster. Operational excellence and governance can be overlooked in order to sell more. 

Information Technology:

Leaders that emanate from digital-focused disciplines can bring some new approaches to doing business and out-flanking the competition with a better approach. The problem with these "gee-whiz kids" is sometimes they have technologies looking for business justification without regard to the overall impact on the business and the value chains organizations thrive in. 


The key skill is to produce products as fast and efficiently as possible within cost constraints. It's about keeping the machines and people at the highest level of productivity. It's all about units produced and lack of downtime. There is an emphasis on preventative maintenance and the kind of smoothness that an operations executive deems valuable. The weakness is here is that there are blind spots for new products and customer satisfaction with the units produced. 

Customer Service:

Customer service is all about the customer experience and keeping them happy no matter the cost. While we all know the highest cost to a company is gaining and maintaining a customer. The issue here is that loyalty can come at too high of a cost, particularly when customers get unreasonable and too demanding. They all can't have their way, 

Research & Development:

This is about creating new products and services. The emphasis is on innovation and creating a better mousetrap. These folks are viewed as "play babies" without any accountability for costs or applicability to the markets that an organization wants to reach or dominate. They are often at odds with marketing, so marketing tries to dictate the products or stifle creativity.  

Human Resources:

HR is at the center of people's conflicts and is often stuck trying to resolve differences and problems. While this a great skill, HR often coddles people too much. We all know that HR is invaluable for managing our most expensive resource, but they are not always focused on the bottom line. 


Legal tries to make sure the organization is protected and stays within governance tolerances, however, they tend to be overprotective and almost paranoid. They tend not to take risks and tend to be excellent negotiators. While necessary, they create a somewhat cold atmosphere. 

Net; Net: 

The obvious answer is to have a leader that fits the need for the time and culture while realizing the strengths and weaknesses that each department brings without pitting them against each other. We don't want our leaders to forget where they came from. however, we want them to develop an atmosphere of collaboration and accomplishment. Balance is the keyword over the long haul.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Keeping Corporate Culture Vibrant

 These days corporate cultures seem to be left to fend for themselves. This is building a dangerous wave of uncaring organizations that are forgetting their investment in employees and partners. This, in turn, negatively affects customers and eventually societies. In our blind pursuit of numbers and profitable outcomes, and hyper-automation cultures are losing out. This loss appears to have a cascading effect on people in many of their roles. Let's look at the five most common types of cultures and the dangerous balance point as we automate to get optimal business outcomes. See figure 1 for the five cultures. 

                                            Figure 1 The Five Types of Cultures 

While there seems to be a correlation between the size of an organization and the tendency to see culture receive less attention and descend down the slippery slope of negative culture. Really savvy organizations pay close attention to culture as they progress and keep their eye on the ball on behalf of culture. Some small organizations never get to success or a decent culture as well. Taking the temperature of culture is essential and ongoing. The categories definitions below are color codded from cooler colors to hot and dangerous colors. The more automation we take on should consider the impact on culture, not just the savings and profitability. 

The Family Culture:

This culture is packed with caring about all the people in and around the organization. Things are loose, and employees tend to wear many hats. The processes are ill-defined, but things get done despite the lack of documentation and repetitive success. The obvious improvement here to make sure people know who does what and how to stay compliant and successful in terms of numbers. People are generally happy, but they get confused, and goals are not shared and communicated at a granular enough level.

The Team Culture:

This culture level has a much better definition of what is expected of everybody and how to attain success for the organization and all its constituents. Processes are documented and distributed, but people still cover each other when the process is still growing. KPIs become more visible and granular. Often there are loads of automation opportunities that are begging for help. Organizations tend to be gathering lists of automation opportunities. 

The Machine Culture:

This culture level is the most important one to pay attention to because it can become a tipping point to take a culture overboard and down a slippery slope. Here automation is essential, and organizations are exercising their automation muscles. People are watching results intensely and will be making constant improvements. The danger here is to forget about the people and the ethical aspects of automation. Keeping the delicate balance between people and results is very challenging at this stage. Things and people are measured with great intensity. Keeping measurements fair to people as well as fair to better outcomes is the challenge.  

The Jungle Culture

This culture is filled with playing favorites because the measurements and goals are impossible to attain. Now politics dominate, and the measurements are used against people who are not in the favored status. This is where the "suck-ups" tend to get rewarded over those who are also missing the mark but won't or don't know how to "play the game"  If gone unchecked, the speed towards culture demise increases very fast. 

The Advanced Jungle Culture:

This culture is so political, people are terrified of losing out to the up-and-comers. Mentors will literally try to "eat their young" when push comes to shove. Nobody makes their goals, and everybody is a threat to be a "new favorite of the month." The end is in sight as goals even lose out in these environments. It is all about killing innovation, the competitors for internal advancement, and hell with everyone else, including customers. Stockholders tend to dominate this culture. 

Net; Net: 

Caring about your culture is so important. If leaders suspect a slide, they need to apply the brakes before it is too late. Infusing the important aspects of each positive culture is essential. If you can maintain a family in a large organization, you will win long term; if you incent team behaviors equally with results and measurements, you are winning the battle. Please measure your culture often to avoid long-term demise. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

What Have People Read in the 1st Quarter 2021?

Before I answer the question in the title, I'd like to thank my readers for keeping my blog going. It's going on eight years now and the blog seems to be flourishing with over 720K hits during that time. I wanted to share what folks have been reading during the last year plus what's hot in 2021. There has been a shift away from RPA and a movement to business improvement through process improvement. At the same time, there is a revolution in the use of data in the cloud and the data mesh that spans the cloud inclusive of on-prem data. Collaboration that is focused on outcomes is also an emergent theme. Expect to see more holistic management driven by increased business visibility. If you want to access any of these posts, please hit here and use the search function on the blog.  

Figure 1 depicts the hottest topics over the last year running which points to Customer Journeys (CJM), Data mining, Real-Time Data, and the Data Mesh

                                      Figure 1 Recent Years Hits 

Figure 2 shows the involvement of the international community of interested readers which adds up to about one-third of my hits. The US generates two-thirds of my blog activities. 

                                          Figure 2 Non-US Hits 

Finally, I answer the question in the headline about what people are reading in 2021 in Figure 3. You will find the rise of data topics and general management topics. Hot topics include Digitial Business Platforms, Process/Data Mining, Voice Data, Continuous Improvement, and Focused Collaboration. 

                                      Figure 3 Top 2021 Hits So Far

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Art for the 1st Quarter 2021

I sure hope you and your loved ones are doing well during this COVID 19 Pandemic. We are happy to have our shots behind us and hope you get yours soon. It was a creative first quarter with the release of my first song of many more to come I hope. Click here to listen to "Love and Acceptance". If you like it, let me know. My team of Ethan Fox, Pete Crane, and Jimmy Caterine supported me to deliver a bucket list song I wrote the lyrics for back in 2017.

I painted a lovely flower that my buddy Bill Klasy captured on film. It's named "Morning Mist" because it's dripping with dew. Also, I managed a couple of new fractals. If you want to see more or even buy a piece hit my art website or email me at jim.sinur @gmail.com. 

                                                   Morning Mist

                                                       Color Ribbons

                                                         Pink Stallion

                                                 Angels in the Architecture 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Stakeholder Collaboration Equals Business Success

It makes no difference if an organization is attempting new opportunities or dealing with emerging threats, stakeholder collaboration, with significant visibility, will deliver improved competitive positions and more sustainable businesses. Even if the change efforts are more focused on continuous process improvement, better customer experiences, or incremental digital transformation, the importance of stakeholder collaboration is significant.  Stakeholders can be at the executive level or just innovative business managers in search of significant results as long as they don't sub-optimize on small organizational units to the detraction of others. Stakeholder collaboration provides great insurance for overall results. What are the typical stakeholders for integrated and large impact change in organizational customer journeys and processes?  Let's explore the following collaborating roles for business outcomes. 

Core Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the key drivers for management and change that measure true business outcomes throughout the defined scope of efforts to innovate or improve. They typically are innovative and hard-driving groups or individuals that want to improve outcomes. For large scoped high impact efforts typically customers, social communities, partners. investors and vendors are engaged and involved. For more localized efforts, most of the stakeholders are internal but looking for cross-organizational outcomes. Stakeholders often charge optimization agents in seasons of low change to deliver better incremental results and change agents for sure in seasons of high change. 

Optimization Agents 

Journey and process managers are key collaborators for the core stakeholders and help manage the process operators to ever-improving results over time. This is what I call "Small Change" that constantly optimizes existing journeys or processes to make them better overall. Typically the changes are around tuning and optimizing the goals, guardrails, and performance indicators in existing processes and can be done without large and cascading impacts. Core stakeholders allow a greater level of freedom for these kinds of improvements, but visibility to the improvements is essential.

Change Agent:

"Big Change" is usually lead by change agents that seek bigger scopes and larger impacts, so the intensity and frequency of collaboration rise with the stakes. There is usually a significant communication plan to let all the participants know the progress even if the large change is bitten off piece by piece in an agile change and development environment. The change agent will be constantly collaborating with the Core Stakeholders as the risk-reward equation demands it. In fact "Fail Fast" proto-types, simulation efforts, and model work environments might have to be established to prove viability. The change agent plays a key role by working with optimization agents that represent present practices and the core stakeholders that want significant change or even a whole new model of work. 

What are the key best practices to enable and even enhance these key collaborations? Let's explore three that I have seen work in multiple organizations. 

Incented Collaboration is a Best Practice

Getting the change core stakeholders wants in the best possible way requires a change in the reward system. Individuals should be incented to take reasonable risks so the fail-fast approach gets some momentum. Most people dislike change so the chance for runaway fail-fast efforts is unlikely. It is also important to report the learnings of failed efforts, so no punishment for failures is also a key incentive. 

Holistic Visibility is a Best Practice

It is important to have visibility into results, collaborations, and learnings in near real-time so that key collaborators and core stakeholders are aware of the state of progress, so they have a chance to inquire and potentially provide a forward block for the change experimenters and implementers. This visibility is likely to kick off more collaborations that are in the public eye, so good ideas will bubble to the top. 

Capturing Innovation Ideas is Best Practice  

Often good ideas are tossed onto the refuse heap because they don't immediately assist the efforts in progress. Innovative organizations will likely want to see, hear and store innovation ideas for the future and further core stakeholder collaborations. Instead of a distraction, these ideas are a coveted source of future gems of progress. Some will make the grade and some will not, but losing them in the hustle to completion is not acceptable.

Net; Net:

The modern and sustainable business must employ collaboration. The savviest of the organizations will collect, inspect and evaluate these collaborations for contributions to desired outcomes. These organizations will employ the very best methods and tools to focus these collaborations into progress now or in the future. An example of a collaboration platform that not only gets this approach but promotes it is Parallel. Check out Working in parallel

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Key Steps to Frictionless Management

Even in times of stability, organizations are dealing with lots of friction in managing their organizations. Compound that base friction with organizational change, competitive efforts, outside influences, innovation, and internal initiatives, it is not surprising that it becomes super-heated. It’s not hard to imagine the heat from the friction causing damage to essential efforts. The damage might be more effort than necessary, thereby costing the organization time, money, and grief. The damage could also be that fundamental change will be much harder once you add the human resistance to the party. Commonly, organizations have a hard time linking strategy to execution. Some efforts fail even to complete, while others end up less optimal. In other words, Organizational Performance Management (OPM) is hard and even harder while trying to change reactively or proactively.

Where are Some Common Friction Points?

 Organizations have progressed by adding ERP, CRM, and more internal processes/applications, thus creating more moving parts to manage separately or in combination. While business intelligence (BI) has enabled better and more detailed analysis of these systems, it is costly to aggregate and collect data from these multiple sources to create a more holistic view making management reporting and corporate performance more complicated and time-consuming than necessary. The arduous task of aggregating from many Excel spreadsheets and many PowerPoint slides creates so much friction. It is a cumbersome, time-consuming, and error-prone set of steps.


Also, it is challenging to collate feedback, comments, and actions from different management stakeholders against the relevant elements in these reports. Managers also need to collaborate while finding solutions and making recommendations, and in the current remote work scenario, collaboration against reports is challenging. Without adequate insights, decisions are not optimal, and this lack of overview for the management to base their decisions on can cause a delay in the time taken to make and execute decisions.  


As per a 2019 McKinsey Survey, 57% of C-level executives say the reporting process is inefficient, and 61 percent say most of their decision-making time is used ineffectively. Ineffective decisions have significant implications for company productivity. The survey found that for managers at an average Fortune 500 company, this could translate into more than 530,000 days of lost working time and roughly $250 million of wasted labor costs per year (McKinsey & Co., 2019).


The critical problem is that Business Managers need a way to gain insight into issues and challenges they face quickly. These may relate to the external landscape, such as products, competition, market changes, sources of raw materials, storms, logistical problems, etc., or company strategy, business processes, risks, opportunities, etc. Managers relate this insight to company metrics and use them to deliver focused decisions saving time and money. A Harvard Business Article as far back as 2007 declared that everyday decisions create or destroy your company's strategy (Bower & Gilbert, 2007). Against this backdrop, it is critical to enable management decisions through an enhanced reporting process.


What are Key Steps Essential to Remove or Eliminate Friction?


Scope the Management Challenge


In their endeavor to achieve the goals of frictionless management, organizations follow an array of Management Practices.


·        Strategy Management based on the Balanced Scorecard methodology.

·        Performance Management to measure a multitude of performance areas, including Departmental Performance.

·        Process Management to effectively execute strategy through efficient, strategy-aligned processes.

·        Program and Project Management to successfully deploy Initiatives, Programs, and Projects linked to Strategy.

·        Risk and Opportunity Management to be better prepared for events that have a negative or positive effect on Strategy.

·        Quality Management to strengthen the Organization's competitive position.


The multitude of Management Practices addressing different organizational areas and the growing number of tools leads to the complex scenario of departmental silos while implementing these Frameworks. Also, each section or department may invest in multiple tools. It is vital to integrate the efforts that organizations have implemented, are implementing, or plan to implement.


Focus on Process and Process Automation


The efforts to create an integrated management reporting process will pay big dividends. Still, they must be taken into how this process is constructed to bring together multiple data sources, normalize meanings, visualize results, and deal with change. Many of these reporting process tasks are ripe for automation, integration, and aggregation. Finding one tool, like a management cockpit tool and associated methodology, is the challenge here. Since the whole process is dependent on the weakest and slowest sub-process, it is essential to get each step to a similar speed and accuracy level. Laying the base properly here has a significant downstream effect on Insights, decisions, and actions. 


Empower Decision Making and Risk Management


Once the base for "Insights First" is established, then assisting decisions and the risks associated with them becomes possible. By leveraging predictive algorithms to test out decisions and their possible outcomes, it empowers management to make better decisions and kick off more focused projects to improve the reporting cycle and the organization's underlying processes, systems, and resources in the long run. These future improvements come in tandem with making improvements at the operational and tactical levels immediately by taking correct and decisive actions based on existing and emerging conditions.


Leverage Improvements for Innovation


Once the improvements are underway and delivering for an organization, they can be leveraged to treat customers better, get better bottom-line results and give an organization an advantage over its competitors. New markets, products, and new business models can emerge by leveraging improvement results in new ways.


Optimize for Executing Process Correctly


The organizational processes need to be continually inspected for improvement through the reporting processes. Also, advances in data and data sources will need constant attention. This continuous optimization mindset should also be aimed at projects completed for improvements with proper audits and appropriate adjustments.


Net; Net:


While attaining a frictionless organization is a lofty goal, many would settle to have less friction than what we have today. The friction quotient is somewhat out of control and is desperate for attention these days. There are significant savings to be had by approaching this as a management cockpit. Something many IT professionals have been talking about it since 2003, though it was a term popularized by NASA about 50 years ago. It is time to turn the talk into action. More to come on management cockpits here in 2021.



Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Real-Time Data Mixes Well with Archival Data Now

Combining real-time situational data with archival trend data gives context for the understanding of emerging situations. This powerful combination of data sources could imply a need to take actions in the form of immediate response or longer-term change to policies or processes. However, there has always been a bridge troll preventing organizations from bridging real-time data with data archives. That troll was performance issues with volumes of locked data. Well, the troll has taken a permanent position at another bridge somewhere. What has changed is the modern data mesh that leverages the cloud while taking advantage of these emerging combinations of real-time, operational, and archived data sources. The data mesh leveraging the hybrid cloud releases many of these technological constraints.

What are the Challenges of Real-Time Data?

First, organizations have to leverage these new data mesh capabilities in their technical architectures. These technical architectures will reveal some new challenges surrounding creating schemas, selecting data aggregation or location approaches, deciding on data formats, tuning development cycles, and establishing situational testing approaches for new kinds of algorithms leveraging real-time data. Once technically enabled, then the real fun begins. People tend to resist new approaches because they must learn something new and become acceptable to stay even. Smart managers will incent folks to take the risk of taking on something new. Rewarding risk is essential because recognizing real-time patterns will significantly impact the organization operationally and tactically and even tip strategies in new directions. Once the benefits become evident, others will follow suit quickly. There will be new pressures to establish data quality in organizations' fabric, ergo a culture change.

What are the Challenges of Archival Trend Data?

The problem with archival data is that it is locked in the format in which it was created. The unlocking of the data may require a severe unpacking of the real meaning or even change the format or context. In other words, it might have to be recoded to answer new questions and situations. Even if the data was unpacked and readily usable, how well will it behave? Was the data quality tolerance set at the right level? Will the meaning of the data have to be normalized to use it in combination with other data sources? With more and more archival data going online and even in the cloud, this challenge grows daily. It may require a data archaeologist to understand and leverage archival data optimally truly.

What are the Opportunities of Combining Real-Time Data with Archives?

Despite the challenges, the opportunities loom large. The ability to mix emergence with historical data and trends over time offers new insights to the learning organization.  I think the best way to describe the upside is through use cases.


Using real-time monitoring data has changed patient care for the better. The problem is that the real-time data does not consider the patient's history that is locked in various patient history sources. While doctors will always be needed, they aren’t always available with the right history record. Imagine a world where the patient's history can be leveraged in an instant with emerging situational monitoring data. Add some machine learning and advisory AI; patients can be assisted more responsively.


Using real-time trading has been getting better over time and even influenced by overall market guardrails to slow runaway downtrends. The trading bot may not use individual investors' goals that depict risk tolerances or yield plans, or mixes. Imagine a human or bot-based trader making trades influenced in real-time by the wishes of individual investors' aggregation by risk and yield personas.

Supply Chains:

Imagine a dynamic supply chain that can shift shipments under changing conditions that can take supplies in-flight and change their destination based on need. While we have faster delivery times and real-time monitoring of shipping progress details, we don’t link it to customer history. Imagine shifting delivery to adjust to emerging conditions and history, delivering vaccines to traditional hot spots like nursing homes in an accelerated fashion when more supplies appear unexpectedly.

Net; Net:

New data mesh capabilities will enable new opportunities for organizations to combine real-time data with both archival data and real-time operational data. It will require some preparation and some changes in how we all behave, but the outcomes will not be possible before. Situational computing partners with trends and history now. There is real power in interpreting the emerging real-time situation in the context of historical conditions or behavior.