Tag Archives: culture

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of June 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of June 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. We also publish a weekly Top 5 as part of our FREE email newsletter. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are June’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. An Innovation Action Plan for the New CTO — by Steve Blank
  2. The Lost Tribe of Medicine — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  3. What Can Leaders Do to Have More Innovative Teams? — by Diana Porumboiu
  4. Transformation Insights — by Bruce Fairley
  5. Selling To Generation Z – This is What They Want — by Shep Hyken
  6. It is Easier to Change People than to Change People — by Annette Franz
  7. Leading a Culture of Innovation from Any Seat — by Patricia Salamone
  8. Harnessing the Dragons of your Imagination for Innovation — by Braden Kelley
  9. Successful Asynchronous Collaboration — by Douglas Ferguson
  10. Four Reasons the Big Quit Exists — by Braden Kelley

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in May:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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Leading a Culture of Innovation from Any Seat

3 Ways to Leverage Human-Centered Design at Your Organization

Leading a Culture of Innovation from Any Seat

GUEST POST from Patricia Salamone

In a world where business challenges are increasingly complex, identifying your objective and framing your problem correctly is an integral way to demonstrate leadership and ensure teams don’t inadvertently solve the wrong problem. This is where a Human-Centered Design (HCD) mindset comes in—providing a groundbreaking way to define and ensure teams are focused on the right objective.

First, consider the challenge and objectives.

Not all business challenges need to be completely reimagined. Before jumping back to the drawing board, ask yourself, is there an obvious answer? Is there a clear approach to finding a solution? Can the team define what isn’t right? If you can’t say yes to these questions, then your business can benefit from the application of HCD principles. While teams understand they need to align and reframe challenges, having the proper tools in place is where many teams can fall short.

Move past traditional methods and be inspired to see challenges by taking a step back to reframe the problem:

  • Align the team. Often, internal teams will have differing viewpoints on a business problem. Rather than seeing this as a barrier, cross-functional alignment can open the door for creativity and new ideas.
  • Keep the focus on the issue. It’s often tempting to jump from “we have a problem” to, “here’s what we should do.” Instead, keep digging deeper. For every apparent problem definition, ask, “why does that matter?” multiple times, enabling yourself to get to the root cause and ensure you’re focusing on the “problem” rather than a “symptom of the problem.”
  • Use different words to reframe. Next time your team states a problem, challenge everyone to restate it using different words. Each iteration can reveal new facets of the problem, bringing clarity to the challenge at hand.
  • Zoom out. Rather than using a microscope to see details that aren’t immediately visible, approach the problem from a broader, more abstract perspective. Look at the customer’s “job to be done,” rather than what they may say their challenge is. This enables a more holistic and pragmatic view.

By making problem-reframing a habit, you are opening your organization up to greater flexibility and new pathways for innovation. This method also has the added benefit of clarifying gaps in knowledge and revealing where additional customer insight is needed.

Make empathy a daily habit.

A core principle of HCD is that empathy must permeate every aspect of traditional research initiatives. Simply seeking customer feedback to develop strategies often leads to insular thinking. While a research project-driven mindset is very much the norm, empathy in an HCD context is much more than that, it must permeate every aspect of the work.

Similar to reframing challenges, it is imperative to listen and learn from customer stories and perspectives. Here are some ways to establish daily habits and build stronger relationships with your customers.

  • Advocate for the customer’s voice in team meetings. Always begin by asking questions like, “how would our customers feel about this?”
  • Socialize existing wisdom within an HCD team on a weekly basis. This could look like emails containing important insights or bringing in a small group of clients together for “speed dating” with stakeholders to gain a human understanding of your customers’ experiences, wishes, and pain points.
  • Obtain real-time feedback. Online research communities can enable on-demand responses to explore fuzzy, front-end ideas, rapidly iterate on new product concepts, or gather deep insights into how your customers use a product post-launch.

Apply an agile mindset.

One of the hallmarks of HCD is agility. But being agile isn’t just about being “fast,” it’s about delivering value as efficiently as possible. In practice, an agile mindset means thinking differently about how your work gets done and the ways in which a team can break through functional silos.

Not sure where to begin? Here are some tactics to get you started:

  • Break up the work of the team into two-week sprints. Define what can be done in those two weeks and create measurable goals to work toward them (even if those outcomes are only intermediate steps toward a bigger goal).
  • Commit to short and frequent stand-ups with your team to share commitments and highlight possible hurdles to accomplishing the goals of the current sprint.
  • Portion out deliverables. Rather than focusing on your next big presentation as your deliverable, think about how you can break your work down and deliver portions of that content to your stakeholders sooner in a more informal way.

While the above suggestions are purely jumping-off points, they serve as solid examples of practical ways you can begin to transition from understanding HCD as a concept to it becoming an enabler of rethinking both your own work, as well as becoming a catalyst to higher-performing teams.

At the end of the day, embracing the principles of HCD is a long-term journey. These proven steps will help you lead and inspire teams to begin developing new habits that quickly demonstrate the strong potential HCD has in creating a new way to see innovation through the eyes of your customers.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Impact of Cultural Differences on Innovation

Innovation and Impact of Cultural Differences

GUEST POST from Jesse Nieminen

The effects of cultural differences for innovation are an interesting and extremely multifaceted topic.

For most of us, it probably goes without saying that cross-cultural and multicultural capabilities are crucial in today’s globalized and hyperconnected world, and innovation is no exception. These capabilities are especially important if you’re working on it in a large international organization, as many of our customers are.

Such an organization must obviously think about how to adapt new innovative products and services to the cultures and unique characteristics of different markets and regions. But, in addition to that, they also need to manage the cultural differences within their organization while trying to innovate. Given that we have customers all over the world, it’s a theme we often get asked about.

And, of course, there’s also the age-old debate about the cultures of certain regions or countries being better suited to innovation to begin with.

So, in this today’s article, we’ll dive deeper on this nuanced topic and each of those three themes around cultural differences in innovation. We’ll also end by providing you with practical advice on how to look at and take these into account in your innovation work.

How can cultural differences be observed?

However, before we dive deeper, let’s first take a step back and consider the question of how to observe cultural differences in the first place.

I’m sure we all agree that there are significant cultural and behavioral differences between people coming from different backgrounds, be it based on geographical, ethnic, religious, or just the past corporate cultures people have been a part of.

As these differences are often hard to pin down, people usually have an innate urge to try to group people into specific buckets to make sense of those differences. There are significant challenges in doing that as it can lead to putting people into predefined boxes and reinforcing stereotypes, and then treating people based on those stereotypes instead of the individuals they really are. That is why these kinds of approaches shouldn’t be considered universal truths or used as recipes for making decisions even from a purely pragmatic point-of-view, let alone from an ethical one.

Still, with that major caveat, there are also benefits in using such frameworks since they can help us make sense of the world in a more structured way. They can help everyone get a better understanding of the big picture and can serve as a starting point for creating a shared understanding, as well as debating the practical implications of cultural differences.

There are many such methods available, but the general approach is always the same: to break a culture down into several behavioral and/or value-based dimensions ranging from one extreme to another, and then rating each culture on each of these dimensions to form an overview of their respective cultures.

The most popular and widely researched of these are probably the GLOBE project, and the Hofstede cultural dimensions model, but there are also other popular ones like the Culture Map. Each of these frameworks uses the above described approach, and most of the research on them is primarily focused on the differences between individual nations. Having said that, the same approaches have also been applied to other levels, such as gender, organizational, etc. often just with slightly different dimensions.

Next, we’ll briefly explain the Hofstede cultural dimensions model because it’s one of the earliest, and by far the most popular model in the field. If you’re already familiar with the model, you can skip the next paragraph and jump right into the takeaways.

Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

Geert Hofstede worked at IBM back in the 60’s when it was one of the first true global, multinational corporations. As part of his work on improving cross-cultural communication, he ran the same survey on values for more than 100,000 employees from different countries and analyzed the differences, which then led to the creation of his model some years later.

Initially the model consisted of four dimensions, but upon additional research, has since been expanded to six. I’ll briefly explain each of these next, and then share a few examples to illustrate how that works.

Power Distance Index (PDI) determines how equally power is distributed and how hierarchical a society is. High scores indicate a structured and hierarchical society, whereas low values indicate a more distributed power structure and willingness to question authority.

Individualism vs. Collectivism (IDV) looks at how heavily individuals are integrated into groups. This is mostly self-explanatory, but it’s worthy pointing out that collectivist cultures are highly loyal to the close-knit groups they belong to.

Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) determines how much ambiguity and uncertainty a society is comfortable with. High scores indicate that a society values clear, often strict, rules and guidelines and believes in there being a “singular truth”. Low scores mean that a society is more willing to explore new ideas and divergent thoughts and is less structured overall.

Masculinity vs. Femininity (MAS) is of a dimension that’s subject to some controversy, but here refers to values associated with traditional gender roles. A masculine society values achievement, assertiveness, and material rewards for success, whereas a more feminine one values cooperation, modesty, care, and quality of life.

Long-term orientation vs. Short-term orientation (LTO) is pretty self-evident. Long-term oriented societies tend to think more about the future and view adaptation and pragmatic problem-solving as important, whereas more short-term oriented one tends to value traditions and the current state and be less willing to change.

Indulgence vs. Restraint (IND) in turn refers to how much a society indulges and encourages freedom for individuals to “just have fun and enjoy life”. More restrained societies tend to have stricter social norms regarding such behavior as they see these indulgences as counter-beneficial for bigger, longer-term ambitions.

There’s been some research on how these tendencies affect innovation, and as you can probably guess, some tend to be more favorable for high innovation performance than others. Which brings us to the big question: are some cultures intrinsically better at innovation than others?

Are some cultures better than others at innovation?

Well, in short, the answer is yes. At least to some extent. As mentioned, there’s research that shows a relatively strong correlation between certain cultural characteristics and innovation performance.

However, here it’s worth pointing out that almost all of the research done on the topic would seem to focus on country level data as that is widely and freely available thanks to studies like the Global Innovation Index (GII).

While certainly useful, we should take these findings with a grain of salt due to a number of factors, such as the studies again being high-level generalizations based on correlations, and the indices like GII being predominantly focused on inputs for innovation such as education and R&D spending. Even the output focused parts tend to be a bit biased towards activity metrics, such as number research papers and patents, instead of the real value and economic impact of innovation.

What’s more, I think it’s important to point out that most natural cultures evolve much slower than the GII rankings change, so it should be quite evident that there are also many other factors than culture that affect these scores.

But with that out of the way, let’s now look at the actual findings.

Characteristics of top innovation cultures

Based on the available studies, there would seem to be a pretty good consensus on the ideal innovation cultures having the following characteristics on the Hofstede model, in rough order of importance:

  • Low power-distance
  • High levels of long-term orientation and pragmatism
  • High levels of individualism
  • High levels of indulgence
  • Low levels of uncertainty avoidance
  • Lower levels of masculinity

These findings are obviously mostly in line with what most of us think of as a pro-innovation culture, so there aren’t really that many surprises here.

If people can question authority, are comfortable with ambiguous and uncertain environments, and can think about the long-term instead of just the next quarterly results, innovation is a lot more likely to happen.

While there’s more to innovation performance than culture, certain characteristics are likely to lead to a culture being better at innovation.

In most studies, the level of masculinity seemed to make the least amount of difference of any of the variables for innovation performance. Some studies found no correlation, but some did find a preference for a feminine, more collaborative culture instead of the more competitive and assertive, masculine one.

However, in my opinion, the most interesting findings are that high levels of individualism and indulgence are favorable for innovation, when intuitively we might think that a culture that is more collaborative and favors restraint and delayed gratification would be preferable.

This can be explained with the way that the Hofstede dimensions are constructed.

A more collaborative culture is one where certain in-groups, typically your own family, come first, and where loyalty and obedience are absolute values. So, collaboration according to the Hofstede model isn’t so much for the “greater good”, but more about the benefit of that specific “inner circle” ahead of your own interests. More individualist societies, on the other hand, tend to be more comfortable disagreeing, exploring, and “letting the best ideas win”, which is what likely led to these cultures over-performing.

A similar explanation also applies for the preference for indulgence. According to the authors of the study linked above, people in indulgent cultures have a greater drive for improving things and making life more enjoyable, and are generally more optimistic, which they viewed as the primary factors driving innovation here, perhaps alongside a general willingness to just try new things.

So, in that context, I do think the findings make sense, but I think it’s also a good example of some of the challenges associated with more nuanced sides of these cultural frameworks.

Takeaways from country level innovation performance

Looking at the GII study, and the mapping of the top countries from that to the Hofstede model, there are a couple of points worth noting out.

Viima Hofsted Insights GII study of cultural dimensions

First, the top countries in the GII are pretty much what most people would probably expect. The top 15 consists primarily of the US, the Nordics, as well as some Western European and East Asian countries.

However, the interesting part is that when we map these out to the Hofstede model, it’s immediately obvious that even the top performing countries are essentially all over the spectrum. Once we look a bit closer, it’s also evident that no individual country has the perfect innovation culture, as defined above.

To elaborate further, I think there are a few key takeaways from all of this:

  1. There’s more than just one way to be a great innovator
  2. While there are a few distinct types of cultures that generally do better, every culture has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to innovation
  3. You can improve your odds of succeeding at innovation by quite a bit if you recognize the biases of your culture that are likely holding you back

Top performing organizations should thus take these biases and cultural differences into account, and purposefully shape an organizational culture that is distinct from the average of any individual country and instead designed to drive more innovation. Here, diversity can be a real asset, but that’s another massive topic on its own.

Every culture has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to innovation. You can improve your odds of succeeding at it by recognising the biases that are holding yours back.

Having said that, there’s quite a bit more to creating this kind of an innovation culture than just what the Hofstede model captures, and we’ve written about that in detail in this earlier article.

However, one aspect that I’d like to highlight here is that innovation is requires a strong combination of both exploration and execution, so your culture should have a good mix of capabilities in both extremes.

If you’d like to start shaping your culture in practice, you can download our free Innovation Culture Toolkit for actionable tools that can help you do just that.

With that said, let’s now move on to the more practical implications of cultural differences for innovation work.

Multi and cross-cultural innovation capabilities

Let’s start from the first and most obvious challenge innovators in a globalized world face: how can their products and services, as well as sales and marketing efforts be relevant when doing international business, especially in different, highly culturally diverse regions?

In certain situations, and for certain products, it can be completely fine to just do minor localizations like translations, and primarily use the same channels, models, and messaging across the world. This will keep things much simpler and there are situations where these benefits can outweigh the costs for both your customers and your business. For example, this is the route we’ve so far decided to take with Viima.

Having said that, if you don’t adapt your offering and operations to different cultural and market preferences, you often can’t reach your full potential. In some situations, it might even take a completely different approach to reach the same goal in different cultures.

P&G is these days often cited as an example of a multinational company that has been able to successfully grow in emerging markets, but one of the lessons they learned the hard way was that just operating with the same products and models as they did back home wouldn’t work.

For example, according to ex-CEO Lafley, when P&G decided to focus on the baby-care market in Asia, the initial approach was to just cut away material from the diapers sold in Western markets. The problem was that to get to a cost-level that was acceptable, they had to cut out so much that the products no longer worked as intended. Once they went back to the drawing board and created an entirely new product with a completely different design focused primarily on costs instead of the latest technology, they succeeded in creating an attractive product and eventually became the market leader in China.

Pampers Cultural Tailoring

However, in most cases, either extreme isn’t the way to go. You need to look for a solution that allows you to build on your strengths, but still cater to the different cultural preferences of those whom you choose to serve – and usually that isn’t everyone.

Of course, for most of us who are innovators, that isn’t really that different from what we do anyway: we know that whatever great ideas we have, many will never survive first contact with the real world.

Cultural differences and local preferences of different markets are just another variable that we’ll need to take into account in our innovation work. Still, if you’re aiming for international business, it is a topic that you’d be wise to consider during your development process as it can save you a lot of trouble down the road.

Now, if you already have team members that are intimately familiar with these different cultures, it’s just common sense that the whole process is likely to be quite a bit smoother. And the evidence backs it up: this is one of the reasons for diversity being an asset for innovation.

But with that, let’s finally cover the practical considerations of what all of the above means for our organization before we wrap up.

Managing cultural differences within the organization

This is of course another massive topic, so we’ll keep things focused and will seek to provide you with the three key principles we’ve generally found to work well for getting great innovation outcomes in an international, multicultural organization in our work with such organizations.

While many of these are quite practical, depending on your role, you might not be able to put all of them into practice right away. Still, I’d recommend thinking about ways you can apply the same core ideas within the scope of your innovation work.

Cultural Differences for Innovation

Communicate about cultural biases and expectations openly

To illustrate this, I’ll share a story from No Rules Rules, which is a great book that I’d warmly recommend if you’ve made it this far into the post.

Before Netflix expanded internationally, it had a somewhat stereotypical US style task-oriented culture. It was quite common for employees to have lunch while working on their computers. However, as they expanded to Brazil, it quickly became obvious that this was a bit of a problem as, in general, Brazilians really value the relationships built over shared meals. As a result, early employees didn’t exactly feel welcome.

After some time, this came up in discussions, and while it was a trivial thing to fix, it still made a huge impact on morale. And not only did that help them adapt to local habits, but the changes also enriched the culture of the organization globally.

Netflix is known for its company culture

So, the takeaway here is that it’s important to pay attention to cultural differences and discuss them openly. Usually, the issues are easy enough to fix, but when they aren’t discussed, you easily miss them, and that’s what leads to many challenges down the road. The reality is that most people won’t be familiar with everyone else’s culture by default and expecting that to be the case just isn’t realistic.

Have core values and some norms, be flexible on the rest

Each organization’s culture is a result of its background. A sum of its parts, if you will. Be it the nationality of the company, past strategic and hiring decisions, and even simple practices and ways of working that have stuck around for one reason or another.

A few of these factors are core for the identity and competitiveness of the organization, and it’s these core values that you should hold on to. However, most of these factors are simple habits that are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

Making the difference between the two is key.

The core values and norms are something you simply need to succeed as an organization, and those you simply can’t compromise on. New employees, whatever their background or experience, do need to adhere to these few essentials. And for that to happen, you need to train them on these values and principles and tell why that is so important for your organization.

You should be adamant about upholding your core values, but be flexible and willing to give up or change the more inconsequential parts of your culture so that it can evolve and improve

On the other hand, the rest of inconsequential norms and habits you should be willing to give up or change when needed so that everyone can feel welcome and be the best version of themselves. Everybody doesn’t have to be a carbon copy of one another.

But there’s more to it than just that. The right changes can, in fact, make your culture better. This is essentially what “hire for culture add, not culture fit” means in practice.

Let’s again use the Netflix lunch example. Was it crucial for the company to have employees to eat at their desks? Of course not. It was just an inconsequential habit. However, it was vital to have the new Brazilian employees feel welcome, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it improved the company’s performance. Plus, introducing this conscious habit globally helped have a positive impact elsewhere too!

Shared Lunch Brazil

The same can be applied even within the scope of your innovation work. For example, if you’re working on a new medical device, quality and safety are much more important than absolute speed to market. On the other hand, for a consumer web app, it’s probably the other way around. The exact values mentioned here aren’t important, it’s that they should support your strategy and innovation capabilities.

Figure out what the true core values and norms are for your innovation efforts, and make sure to reinforce these – and then be flexible on the rest.

Push decision-making down whenever possible

We’re a strong advocate for decentralized innovation. I won’t recap the whole topic here, but in a nutshell, it’s people who are closest to the market and the real work that often come up with the best ideas. Also, a decentralized approach allows you to dramatically scale your innovation work, which is key for long-term results.

While we’d argue that this is usually the preferable approach, it’s even more important when you’re operating in a multicultural and international environment, as we pointed out earlier.

Not only is this likely to lead to better decisions, but it’s guaranteed to improve the accountability and motivation of the employees making those decisions, which will lead to better results.

This is a key characteristics of the Netflix culture, and CEO Hastings prides himself in doing as few decisions as possible. And, at large, it’s seemed to work really well for them.

However, a market where they are struggling is India. And, at least on the surface, it looks like the problem has been that they’ve tried to adapt the same success formula to India as most other markets: using local top talent to produce new hit TV shows. The problem is that apparently Indians value sports and movies much more than they do TV shows, which has led to competitors focused on those areas dominating the market and a big commercial disappointment for Netflix. From the outside, it’s hard to say if they didn’t really live up to their values here, or if the mistake happened regardless of that. Still, I’m sure there were people on the ground in India that knew of these cultural preferences beforehand.

India Cricket

In practical terms, there are naturally some opportunities and capabilities that make sense to work on centrally, but in an international organization there are also plenty that would be best tackled by empowering people further down the organization to make decisions that best drive the key interests of the organization.

For example, some of our customers have launched big international innovation campaigns or other initiatives and struggled. They might find it difficult to engage people in the field because the centralized effort just doesn’t feel relevant for many of these people, or they might not be able to implement enough good ideas with that same centralized approach.

While there are others that have succeeded in similar centralized efforts, our most successful and advanced customers have nearly without exception evolved the way they work to really embrace innovation at the scale of the organization at large.

…and make sure innovators have the support they need

However, for that decentralized approach to work, you need to guide and support the people innovating across the organization. This is of course not specific to just an environment where there are cultural differences, but for innovation in general.

You likely have plenty of smart and capable people working for you who’d be more than capable of driving innovation, but if they don’t have the right resources, tools, and mindset, they might struggle.

So, in practice, you should:

  • share strategic priorities, and make sure people continue to work towards those
  • provide tools and resources that help people with the innovation process
  • communicate and oversee the above-mentioned core cultural values and norms of the organization
  • help people with challenges in being heard, understood, or taken seriously by others
  • help facilitate discussions and share innovation best practices between different parts of the organization

Often, the most convenient way to accomplish the above goals is to make these efforts a priority of your centralized innovation team, instead of having that small team try to drive innovation themselves.

The right approach and specific methods, tools, and frameworks obviously depend on the situation, but the point is that with the right support, you’ll find that people will often surprise you with the innovations that they’re able to create. The key to success with this model is to proactively invest in improving capabilities and supporting innovators across the organization.

Anyway, with this kind of an approach, you can move from just trying to manage cultural differences, to embracing and using them to drive value for your organization.

Conclusion

The topic of cultural differences is such a complex and nuanced topic that  we’ve barely scratched the surface on here, even though this has been a pretty long article.

But to summarize, if ignored, cultural differences can become a big challenge for innovators. Yet, if embraced and properly managed, it can turn out to be a real advantage for you.

The first step is to understand that these differences exist in the first place, and that teams and people from different backgrounds are likely to have certain strengths, but also certain weaknesses, when it comes to innovation.

Then, reflect on what the ideal culture for innovation looks like in your specific business, and discuss these differences openly with your team.

And finally, try to approach the whole process systematically, with the help of tools like our Innovation Culture Scorecard, one by one addressing challenges that are holding your team back from reaching its true innovation potential.

As mentioned, when embraced and properly managed, cultural differences can turn out to be a real competitive advantage for an innovator.

This article was originally published in Viima’s blog.

Image credits: Viima, Pixabay, Unsplash, Pexels

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How to Scale Your Culture

How to Scale Your Culture

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers

Facebook, Apple, BoeingMcDonald’s and Starbucks are not the only high profile companies that have lost their way as they just got bigger and bigger. Experts and pundits will offer many reasons, some organizational and some more personal about the CEO and the leadership team. Just read the transcripts and review the videos of Congressional hearings about companies breaking bad as they are conducted, seemingly, on a more regular basis. Or, you can see the highlight reel on 60 Minutes or YouTube.

Most would agree, though, that a main cause of a company loosing its bearings during explosive growth is a loss of culture. The term “company culture” is something of a nebulous concept, but most culture professionals can agree on the very basics of a definition. In short, company culture is defined as a shared set of values, goals, attitudes and practices that make up an organization. How an organization goes about crafting its own culture is totally up to them .

In other words, culture is mostly about “how we do things around here”.

The US “healthcare” system is actually a dysfunctional sickcare system of systems masquerading as a healthcare system that includes academic medical centers, community hospitals, government hospitals and other health service organizations. Recent entrants include retailers, online vendors and pharmaceutical companies.

I have worked in many of these kinds of organizations. They all have a unique culture. Working in a VA hospital is much different than working in a for profit community integrated delivery network. In fact, one of the main causes of failed mergers, acquisitions or hospital consolidations is “cultural mismatch”.

The average tenure of a hospital CEO is 5.6 years with a median of 3.6 years. Very few (3.4%) had continuous tenure of 20+ years. Half (51%) had previously been a CEO at another hospital. First-time CEOs were often (57%) promoted from within their organizations.

So, how do you scale culture when the music stops for one CEO and starts for another as consolidation relentlessly surges forward?

Here is an anthology of culture continuity hacks:

  1. Forbes
  2. Harvard Business Review
  3. Bob
  4. 15five
  5. Inc
  6. What about scaling culture during the pandemic?

Some have observed that company culture is a reflection of the founder or leader. But, once the founder goes, pong, pool and picnics will only get you so far. Instead, many will get lost in the wilderness next to where you are holding your koombaya event including your investors and bankers.

I once worked with a Dean who remarked, “The problem is that we have no soul”

Rounding up stakeholders and getting them back to base camp is not something you will learn in scaling school ,medical school or your health adminstration degree program. 

Not learning how to scale culture, however, is career suicide.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Inside the Mind of Jeff Bezos

Amazon's Innovation PhilosophyIt is not too often that the leader of a Fortune 500 gives you an insight into how their company achieves competitive advantage in the marketplace in a letter to shareholders, instead of launching into a page or two of flowery prose written by the Public Relations (PR) team that works for them. The former is what Jeff Bezos tends to deliver year after year. This year’s letter is particularly interesting.

The two key insights in this year’s letter were that:

#1 – Amazon strives to view itself as a startup champion riding to the rescue of customers
#2 – Amazon chooses to be customer-obsessed, not customer-focused or customer-centric, but customer-obsessed

Both of these are crucial to sustaining innovation, and are supported by Jeff’s other main pieces of advice:

– Resisting proxies
– Embracing external trends
– Practicing high velocity decision making

But, I won’t steal Jeff’s thunder. I encourage you to read Jeff’s letter to shareholders in its entirety, check out the bonus video interview at the end, and add comments to share what you find particularly interesting in the letter.

Keep innovating!

—————————————————————-
2016 Letter to Amazon Shareholders
April 12, 2017

“Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?”

That’s a question I just got at our most recent all-hands meeting. I’ve been reminding people that it’s Day 1 for a couple of decades. I work in an Amazon building named Day 1, and when I moved buildings, I took the name with me. I spend time thinking about this topic.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

To be sure, this kind of decline would happen in extreme slow motion. An established company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final result would still come.

I’m interested in the question, how do you fend off Day 2? What are the techniques and tactics? How do you keep the vitality of Day 1, even inside a large organization?

Such a question can’t have a simple answer. There will be many elements, multiple paths, and many traps. I don’t know the whole answer, but I may know bits of it. Here’s a starter pack of essentials for Day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making.

True Customer Obsession

There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.

Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.

Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.

Resist Proxies

As companies get larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage to proxies. This comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s dangerous, subtle, and very Day 2.

A common example is process as proxy. Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right. Gulp. It’s not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, “Well, we followed the process.” A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process. The process is not the thing. It’s always worth asking, do we own the process or does the process own us? In a Day 2 company, you might find it’s the second.

Another example: market research and customer surveys can become proxies for customers – something that’s especially dangerous when you’re inventing and designing products. “Fifty-five percent of beta testers report being satisfied with this feature. That is up from 47% in the first survey.” That’s hard to interpret and could unintentionally mislead.

Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customer. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition. They study and understand many anecdotes rather than only the averages you’ll find on surveys. They live with the design.

I’m not against beta testing or surveys. But you, the product or service owner, must understand the customer, have a vision, and love the offering. Then, beta testing and research can help you find your blind spots. A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey.

Embrace External Trends

The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.
These big trends are not that hard to spot (they get talked and written about a lot), but they can be strangely hard for large organizations to embrace. We’re in the middle of an obvious one right now: machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Over the past decades computers have broadly automated tasks that programmers could describe with clear rules and algorithms. Modern machine learning techniques now allow us to do the same for tasks where describing the precise rules is much harder.

At Amazon, we’ve been engaged in the practical application of machine learning for many years now. Some of this work is highly visible: our autonomous Prime Air delivery drones; the Amazon Go convenience store that uses machine vision to eliminate checkout lines; and Alexa, our cloud-based AI assistant. (We still struggle to keep Echo in stock, despite our best efforts. A high-quality problem, but a problem. We’re working on it.)

But much of what we do with machine learning happens beneath the surface. Machine learning drives our algorithms for demand forecasting, product search ranking, product and deals recommendations, merchandising placements, fraud detection, translations, and much more. Though less visible, much of the impact of machine learning will be of this type – quietly but meaningfully improving core operations.

Inside AWS, we’re excited to lower the costs and barriers to machine learning and AI so organizations of all sizes can take advantage of these advanced techniques.

Using our pre-packaged versions of popular deep learning frameworks running on P2 compute instances (optimized for this workload), customers are already developing powerful systems ranging everywhere from early disease detection to increasing crop yields. And we’ve also made Amazon’s higher level services available in a convenient form. Amazon Lex (what’s inside Alexa), Amazon Polly, and Amazon Rekognition remove the heavy lifting from natural language understanding, speech generation, and image analysis. They can be accessed with simple API calls – no machine learning expertise required. Watch this space. Much more to come.

High-Velocity Decision Making

Day 2 companies make high-quality decisions, but they make high-quality decisions slowly. To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, you have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions. Easy for start-ups and very challenging for large organizations. The senior team at Amazon is determined to keep our decision-making velocity high. Speed matters in business – plus a high-velocity decision making environment is more fun too. We don’t know all the answers, but here are some thoughts.

First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors. Those decisions can use a light-weight process. For those, so what if you’re wrong? I wrote about this in more detail in last year’s letter.

Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.

Third, use the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, “Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?” By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.

This isn’t one way. If you’re the boss, you should do this too. I disagree and commit all the time. We recently greenlit a particular Amazon Studios original. I told the team my view: debatable whether it would be interesting enough, complicated to produce, the business terms aren’t that good, and we have lots of other opportunities. They had a completely different opinion and wanted to go ahead. I wrote back right away with “I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made.” Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.

Note what this example is not: it’s not me thinking to myself “well, these guys are wrong and missing the point, but this isn’t worth me chasing.” It’s a genuine disagreement of opinion, a candid expression of my view, a chance for the team to weigh my view, and a quick, sincere commitment to go their way. And given that this team has already brought home 11 Emmys, 6 Golden Globes, and 3 Oscars, I’m just glad they let me in the room at all!

Fourth, recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately. Sometimes teams have different objectives and fundamentally different views. They are not aligned. No amount of discussion, no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism for this scenario is exhaustion. Whoever has more stamina carries the decision.

I’ve seen many examples of sincere misalignment at Amazon over the years. When we decided to invite third party sellers to compete directly against us on our own product detail pages – that was a big one. Many smart, well-intentioned Amazonians were simply not at all aligned with the direction. The big decision set up hundreds of smaller decisions, many of which needed to be escalated to the senior team.

“You’ve worn me down” is an awful decision-making process. It’s slow and de-energizing. Go for quick escalation instead – it’s better.

So, have you settled only for decision quality, or are you mindful of decision velocity too? Are the world’s trends tailwinds for you? Are you falling prey to proxies, or do they serve you? And most important of all, are you delighting customers? We can have the scope and capabilities of a large company and the spirit and heart of a small one. But we have to choose it.

A huge thank you to each and every customer for allowing us to serve you, to our shareowners for your support, and to Amazonians everywhere for your hard work, your ingenuity, and your passion.

As always, I attach a copy of our original 1997 letter. It remains Day 1.

Sincerely,

Jeff

———————————

If you’d like dive deeper into the mind of Jeff Bezos, then check out this interview with him conducted by Walt Mossberg of The Verge last year at Code Conference 2016:

And here is another fascinating peek inside the mind of Jeff Bezos from 1997:


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13th Annual Change Management Conference Wrapup

13th Annual Change Management Conference WrapupRecently I had the opportunity to attend the 13th Annual Change Management Conference in New York, NY, hosted by The Conference Board. The event represented a convening of 200+ change management professionals from around the United States.

200+ attendees is a pretty decent size, but this larger number of attendees is quite small when you consider the number of people serving in official or unofficial change management roles around the world (either as employees or consultants), or when compared to the number of project managers (estimated at 16.5 million people around the world) and potentially as many as 1.5 million six sigma black belts and green belts sprinkled around the world.

Meanwhile, a couple of the leading training organizations in the change management space have trained just short of 100,000 people in the principles of change management.

If you agree that proactively managing change in organizations is at least as important as the practice of Six Sigma, and potentially as important as project management, that means that as the pace and importance of change continues to gather steam, there could be the need to train between 1.4 million and 16.4 million change management professionals in the next few years.

Insights from The Conference Board’s Council on Change Management

The tweet stream kicked off with a tweet from Joe Rafter of PG&E (@jrafter65) capturing the essence of what was to come:

“Investing in better change & transformation today. Change is in everyone’s role.”

The first session highlighted the Council’s Five Guiding Principles for Changing How We Change:

  1. Agile, Conitnuous and Iterative
  2. Future Focused
  3. Dynamic Conversation & Engagement
  4. Change Leadership From All Levels
  5. Adoption & Behavior Change

Kinthi Sturtevant of IBM highlighted that they are rarely seeing 2, 3 or 4 year projects. Now it’s 30-60-90 day change projects.

We heard John Horn of Prudential talking about their transformation to a focus on talent as a differentiator that is not hr led, but leader led. Interesting that Prudential has talent catalysts in the same way as Intuit has design catalysts.

We heard Barbara Mitchell of Mayo Clinic talking about the importance of embedding your change plan in your project plan. But I disagree with this strategy. The focus should be the reverse. Your project plan should be part of your change plan. In my estimation, project planning should be part of our change planning efforts, but to make this happen we need more change planning tools like my upcoming Change Planning Toolkit™.

Wendy Branche of Tyco spoke about how organizations must make change a capability not just a competency. Distributing and democratizing change must be a priority. At Tyco change is a business process and a leadership competency and positioning change in such a manner has accelerated participation in change.

People First in Change Management

Gisela Paulsen of Genentech spoke about leading people through a difficult transition, and her feelings were captured well in this quote:

“If you lead change with integrity and transparency you can’t go wrong.”

The company had to deal with a product that was dying in two years as a superior product came on the market from a competitor, and one of the ways they dealt with it was by allowing employees to start spending 40% of their time on career development activities.

She spoke about the importance of paying attention to the community and its well-being during the change process, and how leading on the way down is a lot harder and you learn more about leadership than learning during a growth phase.

One other key message from Gisela was that as a change leader, you must be courageous, and not be afraid to ask for things. Who knows? Leadership might say yes!

The Innovation Accelerator

Roberto Masiero and Dr. Eric Hieger of ADP spoke about their efforts to accelerate innovation, and it was funny that they intentionally dressed different to highlight the difference between the old ADP and the new ADP. There

One key question they asked was:

Do we intentionally accelerate pace amplitude scale and complexity in a VUCA environment?
(VUCA being Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous)

How Do You Measure Change Success?

Tim Creasey of ProSci spoke a lot about the importance of metrics and scorecards. Here are a couple of the key takeaways:

Tim Creasey’s definition of Change Management is “catalyzing individual transitions to deliver organizational results.”

  1. Most of the people at the conference feel they do a poor job of measuring change management performance
  2. My big takeaway was that many times the ROI of change mgmt activities are likely baked into the overall ROI for systems projects especially, but the investment and the commitment is not. You need to highlight this for people. Vendors are going to highlight their most successful projects in helping calculate ROI, but those projects are also most likely to have invested in change management.

Rethinking Change

Lior Arussy of Strativity spoke about rethinking change including the following question:

What would happen if your scorecard was stories you collected instead?

Change is not an island.

The talk prompted this question in my mind:

Does everyone agree that transformation is used for change with a capital c?

Most organizations still don’t recognize need for a sustainable change management practice. This must change.

The $1 Billion Wakeup Call

Melanie Francis spoke about her observations of how as organizations approach $1 Billion in revenue that change management begins to become formalized into the organization.

Do You Speak Digital?

Sheila Chavda of McDonald’s spoke about some of the changes they’ve undergone in building a stronger digital focus at the company, including some of their focus areas:

  1. Direction and Leadership
  2. Culture, Climate, and Accountability
  3. Coordination and Control
  4. Capabilities, Motivation and External Orientation
  5. Innovation and Learning

Sheila shared a great story about an ophthalmologist who created an application called Peek that is capable of turning a smartphone into an eye exam tool (without the corresponding usual expense), making eye care more accessible worldwide.

Here is a great quote from Sheila:

“Game changing insights aren’t enough, without repeatable processes they become hallucinations of a really smart guy.”

Meanwhile, in the other session Chris Gray of Bridge Consulting shared this gem – “A butterfly is not a better caterpillar.”

Korn Ferry Research Results

Scott Stevenson of Korn Ferry shared some of their findings from research focusing on learning agility and change leadership. Their findings included:

  • People must decide to learn something new for change success to occur
  • Change management requires accurately predicting how a group will learn what is needed and managing to their individual/collective learning styles
  • Innovation strategies require more mental agility and change agility

Finally, Scott shared how he was always surprised by how little organizations invest in understanding employee drivers.

Leading Through Change

Shannon Wallace of GM shared stories of their transition in HR from executive HR to shared services model and the unexpected resistance they faced from HR employees.The resistance came from people being used to being the person people depended on. People were used to being firefighters. They decided to use pie charts to show difference in how people will spent their time before the change and how they will spend it post change. They also developed a “What would you do?” set of scenarios based on all of the different questions they got from people. They also created ~50 different modules to help people understand how different scenarios were going to change in the new model.

Creating the Future Together

Kelley Kurtzman of Verizon Wireless spoke about how as technology shifts, peoples expectations shift, and how their approach to employees and change focuses on three stages:

  1. Engage
  2. Educate
  3. Empower

Kelley also mentioned that any great employee engagement program has to be grounded in employee concerns.

One thing Verizon Wireless did to increase employee engagement and cooperation was to create ride-along video snippets so people can see what different tasks look like. Kelley talked about the power of involving employees in designing the solutions that will make them more productive. One result was to provide front line call center supervisors at Verizon Wireless with tablets with call metrics on them so they can be on the floor instead of off in a separate cubicle.

Finally, Kelley shared a great metaphor about the interaction between EQ and IQ as it relates to Emotional Intelligence:

“EQ is the front wheel of bicycle (Direction) while IQ is the back wheel (Power).”

Is Your Change Management Agile?

Paul O’Keeffe and Randy Wandmacher of Accenture Strategy spoke first about how in the digital age, expectations are different. We’ve heard people say at the conference that if they can’t see results this quarter, it’s too slow.

They continued on by discussing how research shows that change doesn’t cause organizations to go off track, it exposes organizational dysfunction. Too much change too fast is not destructive, high performing organizations go at a pace slightly faster than that of ordinary ones. The reason this is true is that people don’t have to go through the prototypical change ‘valley of despair’. High performing organizations have the agility to skip the ‘valley of despair’. One way they do is by building and maintaining a high level of trust in the organization.

People’s acceptance of #change is not a smooth curve, but a step function, increasing where intellectual understanding intersects with emotional agreement. The best organizations realize the benefits of change, build people’s change capabilities, end in good place with each change effort, so there is an appetite to do more change and to continue to improve business performance.

Becoming change agile means building a capability to successfully manage change on a daily basis. The steps in our change model to enable agility include:

  1. Clearly define the intended business performance and desired benefits
  2. Understand the organizational context/health
  3. Vision
  4. Leadership
  5. Resources
  6. Discipline
  7. Energy

The insights from Vision, Leadership, Resources, Discipline and Energy are used to master the dynamics occurring in the organization.

Poor performing organizations have a disconnect in perceived performance on Leadership and Teamwork. Poor performing organizations have a higher level of fear and frustration. Organizations that attain the highest levels of performance are those that truly thrive on change.

Most organizations would like to be more agile according to votes here at the conference, but few have it as C-suite priority. In fact, most organizations miss an opportunity during big projects like ERP to build capabilities for the future in change and agility.

The future of change agility should be to focus on insight-driven change, building capabilities and being change navigators.

Finally, it’s crazy that @innovate has more Twitter followers than @AccentureStrat. 😉

Closing Session with The Conference Board’s Council on Change Management

In the closing session Molly Breazeale shared this quote to keep in mind about relationships as you think through your change efforts:

“The conversation is the relationship.” – Susan Scott

Kent Greenes of The Conference Board spoke about co-creation and the difference between involvement and inclusion and the importance of organizing management and non-management input together in a common group to help move people from ‘I’ to ‘We’. “Imagine the look you’re going to get from your CEO when you say that leading change from the top is not enough.”

Isabelle Suares of Cisco spoke about how the speed of market changes requires greater speed internally in order to realize an ROI on our products. Increasingly shorter windows of opportunity to monetize intellectual property before newer technology supplants it. Co-Design embedded in all initiatives at Cisco, in all phases, in an iterative process with full participation.

Lauren Chesley of Verizon Communications spoke about how they wanted leaders to drive transformation, deliver on priorities, and be strong people managers for culture.

Andrea Tennyson of Cargill spoke about how they focus on nine key stakeholders including: customers, suppliers, consumers, employees, communities, governments, and three more. Some of their key focus areas sometimes conflict and from a change standpoint this can be difficult as they look to co-create. For transformation they leveraged their Leadership Forum (1,575 participants – 1,325 virtual & 250 local), and their Change Leader Network, Change Community of Practice, Leadership Academy Alumni, and Corporate Center. They made a shift in decision making away from Change Leadership Team and pushed the ability farther down into the organization.

Finally, a closing thought from Twitter from Tim Creasey of ProSci, and I’m not sure who to attribute it to, but I definitely heard it at the event:

“Go where the bright spots are in your organization – on gaining sponsorship for change management.”

The conference definitely was a whirlwind, and I’d like to thank The Conference Board for putting on a great 13th Annual Change Management Conference and to the organizers for inviting me to cover the event for the Innovation Excellence audience. Hopefully they’ll have me back as a speaker next year at their 14th annual event.

In 2016 my new change management content site will be in full swing and my second book for Palgrave Macmillan (@PalgraveBiz) comes out in January 2016 to highlight the best practices and next practices of organizational change and introduces my new collaborative, visual Change Planning Toolkit™. I’ve got some great guest experts and case studies to include in the book, so stay tuned!


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Is working smarter for suckers?

Work Smarter Manifesto

Last night I dreamed about the extremely unbalanced view of work in our societies, and woke up wondering whether working smarter is for suckers.

Why is that we lionize the workaholics among us and penalize those that find ways to be more efficient?

Why is that we say “thank you for working so hard” to someone who takes sixty hours to complete a task and penalize the person who figures out how to do it in twenty hours by giving them more work to do?

Out of one side of our mouth we talk about the importance of work life balance and out of the other side we praise those who worked the weekend. What’s worse, we often also speak behind the back of those who find a way to leave promptly at 5 PM every day, and look down upon them instead of admiring them.

There is the old saying “Work smarter, not harder”, but what’s the point when you get punished for doing so?

Where’s the reward?

We reward companies for getting more efficient and more profitable by raising their stock price. Where’s the reward for the individual for finds a way to get more efficient?

And why do people who work neither hard or smart get a free ride?

I am reminded of the saying “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”

The attitudes about work in our society that make this quote a truism, along with the penalties for working smarter, make it nearly impossible to achieve work life balance in our culture unless you’re lazy and difficult to fire.

People marvel at how much I seem to achieve between working full-time, traveling the world delivering keynotes on innovation and change, writing books and articles, helping to run Innovation Excellence, and getting ready to launch a new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit.

The only way I’m able to pull it off is by doing my best not to explode while I work harder at working smarter.

Books like Essentialism by Greg McKeown (and many other similar ones) serve as a great continuing education and gentle reminders for the legions of us trying to working smarter.

My wife also helps keep me focused only on the ground in front of me and becoming comfortable with whatever forward progress I’m able to make on my content creation efforts as I move through the world and all of the requirements and expectations that I’ve signed up for. The importance of family also lead me to protect evenings and weekends against potentially encroaching work.

Work Smarter Not HarderBut many organizations, and our culture at large, definitely doesn’t make it easy by inflicting their own inefficient processes, policies, and expectations on us.

So, what could we do better as organizations and leaders to teach people how to be more efficient in their jobs and have the foresight to let them use that improved efficiency to allow them to go home at a decent hour to their families?

We must remember, all parents have another job to go home to, and single employees have passions to explore that work probably is not fulfilling.

Help your employees work smarter and let them reap the rewards and you too will be rewarded with a stronger next generation of employees, increased employee retention, and MORE INNOVATION. Not a bad deal, right?

P.S. For my part soon I will be releasing a new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit to help organizations work smarter by planning their change initiatives (and projects) in a less overwhelming, more human way that will help literally get everyone one the same page.

I’m looking to select a handful of companies to teach how to use the toolkit for free and feature their experience in my next book on the best practices and next practices of organizational change. If you would like to get a jump on the competition by increasing your speed of change (and your ability to work smarter), register your interest here.


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Five Ways to Make Your Innovation Culture Smell Better

Five Ways to Make Your Innovation Culture Smell BetterIs Your Organization Committed to Innovation?

If so, download my new innovation culture white paper.

Unfortunately, when it comes to fostering continuous innovation, most organizational cultures stink at it, and they are not innovating fast enough to repel the unrelenting threat posed by new market entrants with declining barriers to entry.

This is why I created my latest innovation white paper in partnership with Planview to help organizations learn how to make their organization’s innovation culture stink less by:

  • Focusing on the basics of culture change
  • Building a common language of innovation
  • Identifying and harnessing the untapped talents, skills, and abilities of employees
  • Leveraging their most curious individuals to drive momentum

Click here to download the white paper

To watch my ON DEMAND video presentation on the same topic, “Your Innovation Culture Stinks: 5 Ways to make it Smell Better” visit www.pipelineconference.com

What does your organization’s innovation culture smell like?


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Innovation Quotes of the Day – June 3, 2012


“When all think alike, then no one is thinking.”

– Walter Lippman


“When it comes to creating an innovation culture, often people make it far too complicated. If you’re part of the senior leadership team and you’re serious about innovation then your job is simple – reduce friction.”

– Braden Kelley


“Nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done.”

– Sam Ewing


What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

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Innovation Quotes of the Day – May 20, 2012


“Change is the law of life and those who only look to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.”

– Irving Janus


“Organizations seeking to create a culture of continuous innovation must realize that the transformation will not happen overnight. People can only absorb so much change at once. The transformation will likely have to be broken up into separate phases with discreet goals (don’t try to do it all at once).”

– Braden Kelley


“Industry revolutionaries take the entire business concept, rather than a product or service, as the starting point for innovation. Revolutionaries recognize that competition is no longer between products or services, it’s between business concepts – when its most effective business concept innovation leaves competitors in a gut-wrenching quandry.”

– Gary Hamel


What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

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