Tag Archives: Organization

How To Improve Results With The Right Frequency Of Monitoring

By George Bradt – Most understand the need to follow up and monitor progress on a theoretical level. Yet there are few guidelines to how frequently you should do that. Let me suggest that varies by the nature of what you’re monitoring, ranging from daily or even more frequently for tasks to annually for strategic plans.

Ben Harkin discussed the value of monitoring and reporting in the Psychological Journal. His headline is “Frequently Monitoring Progress Toward Goals Increases Chance of Success” – especially if you make the results public. While he was more focused on personal habits and goals, the findings are applicable to organizational behavior as well.

Here’s my current best thinking on the right frequency of monitoring. The main discriminant is the nature of the work and level of people doing the work with tighter, more frequent monitoring of tactical efforts and looser, less frequent monitoring of more strategic efforts.

  • Daily or more frequently – Tasks
  • Weekly – Projects
  • Monthly – Programs
  • Quarterly – Business Reviews, adjustments
  • Annually – Strategic/Organizational/Operational processes



America has a broken political system our leaders need to fix

By Former Rep. Tom Ridge (R-Pa.) and Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) – According to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association, the future of the country is a significant source of anxiety for nearly two-thirds of Americans.

We elect leaders to place country above party, address the most critical issues plaguing the nation and prevent future crisis from taking root. But Washington needs to face the facts: The political system itself is broken, wearing down too many leaders with endless fundraising demands and turning the job of elected representative into a never-ending campaign whose purpose is to vilify the other party. We used to have to arrange schedules around fundraisers for senators. It was considered the exception, and now it is the rule.

Leadership in Congress focuses more on the capacity of lawmakers to raise money, rather than their policy expertise and merit on legislative issues. The political parties and system supporting them have come to care more about majorities in the legislative branch than governing.

Our experience tells us that if America lacks the will and moral strength to elect leaders who will repair the divisions in the country, then dysfunction in government will continue to be the greatest threat facing the nation. Our leadership on the global stage will diminish. Democracy as a way of life, and the freedoms only it can offer, will suffer. We must strengthen our bonds, not deepen our divisions. more>


More Democracy At Work? Do We Need That?

By Peter Scherrer – It is, in my view, more necessary now than ever before to put the fight for more democracy at work on the political agenda. But at the same time, it is an issue to which neither the general public nor the EU political élite pays much, if any, attention, even though it is of great importance for millions of working people. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), at its Executive Committee meeting this week, went ahead in that spirit and adopted the strategy.

ETUC members are deeply convinced that a European approach to democracy at work can directly improve working life, collective labor rights and the concrete participation of workers in society and the economy.

The performance of EU Member States like Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Austria demonstrates that extending workers’ participation rights in companies and in administration is not an obstacle to a productive and profitable economy.

Many EU member countries have developed fair rights to information and consultation and a significant number have workers’ representation on company boards. The active involvement of trade unionists and workers’ representatives contributes to economic success and employment stability.

A glance at the current situation shows that democracy at work is being eroded by e.g. increasing centralization of company decision-making in all areas and increased concealment of real ownership etc. This widening gap could be partly closed by European legislation on workers’ participation.

But a huge danger to the options for more democratic labor/industrial relations comes from the rapid growth in the proportion of ‘digital’ workers and employees in the so-called sharing economy. more>


Wanted: Public Servants

Once a prestigious career path, heading to Washington to work in government is losing its luster.
By Susan Milligan – Wanted: White House staffer.

It includes long hours, a boss who might ridicule you on Twitter, give you a humiliating nickname and make you constantly worry about your job security. Pay is less than you’d make in the private sector – even lower when you subtract the amount you’ll have to pay a lawyer, even if you did nothing illegal.

The big payoff is notoriety – or a return to your old job in the private sector, assuming they’ll have you.

Looking for something a little less high-profile?

You can work in the civil service, where you’ll have better job security (assuming congressional efforts to weaken your employment protections as a federal worker don’t succeed). But you’ll be denigrated as a member of the “Deep State,” and quite possibly be without a real boss, instead working for an “acting” leader with no real authority.

This is what it means now to choose public service in Washington, where White House turnover is at record levels and uncertainty rules at federal agencies employing career workers. And it has many worried about the impact not only on the day-to-day operations of the U.S. government, but on the very integrity of public service as a profession.

Why, after all, would an educated, experienced person elect to take on such a low-results job?

“There’s no question that it not only demeans the value of public service, but undermines the trust the public has in public institutions,” says Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group dedicated to making government more efficient and effective.

“Those are all bad for democracy.” more>


Ten Keys To Launching An Agile Transformation In A Large Firm

By Steve Denning – The successful Agile transformations that I have seen in large organizations have typically begun without authority or budget resources. That’s because at the outset the organization usually doesn’t understand what Agile is or what it is getting into. This can lead some despair among Agile coaches as to whether Agile transformation is even possible in large organizations.

In fact, a comprehensive survey of successful organizational change in large organizations by Larry Prusak and Tom Davenport back in 2003 concluded that deep change rarely begins at the very top of a large organization. In part, that’s because the CEO is usually too busy to understand what’s involved or give it the commitment that it needs. It’s also because, if the change is led from the top, it risks being perceived as “just another command-and-control brainwave.”

In theory, the change could also be led by someone at the lowest level of the organization, though it can be hard for people at that level to see what’s going on beyond their own unit, or to acquire the organizational knowledge or the social capital to mobilize broader support.

So typically, the change begins at the middle, or upper-middle, of the organization and follows a certain pattern.

The pattern is similar to what I saw in a large and very change-resistant organization— the World Bank— where I was working in the late 1990s and where I—quixotically—set out to effect a change its strategy, without any budget resources or authority to do so. The organizational transformation in question wasn’t Agile, but it was a big, deep change involving a shift in organizational culture.

The dynamic that I experienced in the World Bank—the whips, the scorns, the opposition, the skullduggery—is something that I’ve seen play out in many organizations implementing Agile. If your challenge is an Agile transformation in a large organization, here are ten fundamental characteristics that you are likely to encounter, more>


Negotiating With Power?

By Santosh Desai – In most cases, the nature of the intervention was either to ensure that the rules that already existed were followed, or to step in and help break the rules using one’s privileged position.

The legislative and administrative systems in India are subservient to the social ecosystem, and work within its ambit. Power thus becomes a social instrument that needs to be brokered keeping the dominant interests in mind.

The disinterested application of the law is not possible in a context where these interests take priority. Hierarchies are respected, networks are nurtured, money speaks loudly, and settlements are negotiated.

The idea of the ‘settlement’ which finds a measure of mutual self-interest being catered to is only thinly related to abstract notions of justice. The poor and weak ‘accept’ an unfair resolution because the alternative is much worse.

What are otherwise their rights become favors that they seek from the powerful for a price. The powerful build constituencies by creating a cumbersome system and then offering a way to navigate the same.

The ability to negotiate a solution to mutual advantage is a mark of a functioning social system, but when the same occurs under the threat of the use of power, it serves often to perpetuate a skewed and unjust arrangement.

A system of governance must provide instruments of continuity and change. Currently, there is too much of the former and too little of the latter. more>


Leadership is about Hard Decisions

By Alan Pentz – I’ve become increasingly convinced that good organizational leadership is relatively simple but not easy. In other words, unless you work at NASA, good leadership and management isn’t rocket science. You can argue around the edges but most gurus preach that leaders should:

  1. Know their customer and mission.
  2. Set a clear direction.
  3. Focus resources on the most important initiatives that will get you there.
  4. Build a great team to implement.
  5. Ensure accountability.
  6. Communicate the story and progress of the organization.
  7. Learn and adapt as you go and never forget about No. 1.

Warren Buffett famously urged investors with an IQ of 150 to sell 30 points. He wrote:

“To invest successfully does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information. What’s needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding the framework.”

Replace “invest” with “lead” and the statement is equally as true. more>


The French revolutionary origins of national self-determination


Sovereignty, International Law, and the French Revolution, Author: Edward Kolla.
The Law of Nations, Author: Emmerich de Vattel.

By Edward Kolla – Throughout medieval and early modern Europe, rulers possessed their realms much like people now might own their house. Title existed, and could change hands, according to dynastic principles: lands were inherited by descendants, came together when royal houses married, and could even be sold.

A major difference existed, nonetheless, between pre-modern Europe and the real-estate transactions of today – war. Success in battle also determined who controlled lands, aside from birthright.

Then, in 1789, women and men in France started to make an incendiary claim. They argued that the French people, not the king, ought to be the source of political authority. This position is encapsulated in Article 3 of the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’, the French Revolution’s foundational document.

In it, the French people asserted that, henceforth, ‘all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation’. The previous bearer of this authority, Louis XVI, would soon go on to lose his head as well.

One of the beauties of the old system was that dynastic inheritance, or clear victory in war, lent a certain degree of stability to the territorial order. more>


Leaders Focus on the Trends, Not the Data Points

By Scott Eblin – One of the reasons annual performance reviews suck so much is that they too often deal in data points, not trends. Too many managers don’t provide meaningful performance feedback on a real-time basis so when performance review time rolls around (as it always and predictably does), they find themselves scrambling for points to make in the review conversation. That’s where the data points come in.

In the absence of any meaningful thought or preparation, whatever happened recently suddenly becomes a trend. That meeting you nailed? Good job on that—you had a great year! That presentation you muffed? You know, I’m not sure you’re really a good fit for us.

A data point does not a trend make. It’s a cognitive bias. Don’t fall for it. Great leaders assess on the trends, not the data points. more>


How Hunter-Gatherers May Hold the Key to our Economic Future

We need to rethink our relationships with the workplace.
By James Suzman – What happened on the Omaheke farms echoes broader trends transforming workplaces across the globe.

The same question also irked John Maynard Keynes when in the winter of 1929 he was contemplating the ruins of his personal fortune. Global stock markets had imploded and the Great Depression was slowly throttling the life out of the Euro-American economy.

To remind himself of the ephemeral nature of the crisis, he penned an optimistic essay entitled “The Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”. In it he argued that within a century technical innovation and increases in productivity would usher in a golden era of leisure that would liberate us from the tyranny of the clock, and enable us to thrive on the basis of working no more than fifteen hours per week.

Besides war, natural disasters and acts of God the only significant obstacle he saw to this Utopia being achieved was what he believed was our instinct to strive for more, to work and to create new wealth.

So he took the view that, save a few “purposeful money makers”, we would recognize the economic Utopia for what it was , slow down and “be able to enjoy the abundance when it comes.”

Keynes was right about improved productivity and technological innovation. According to Keynes’s reasoning, on the basis of labor productivity improvements alone we should not be working more than 11 hours a week now.

But, despite having the means to work much less, many of us now work as long and hard as we did before. With the industrial revolution now having merged into the digital revolution there is a good case to be made to suggest that we have reached an inflexion point in the history of work as important as the agricultural revolution. more>