Thursday, December 31, 2015

Time to Burn That Organizational Chart

Companies That Flatten Their Hierarchy are FASTER to Market...and More Creative

http://liquidleadership.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-difference-between-motivation.html

Brad's Best Blog Posts 3-14-2013


Excerpt from Liquid leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia,
Culture Shock, page 35...

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One afternoon as I was preparing for a presentation to the K2 board of advisers later in the evening, a vigorous knock pulled me from my thoughts. Our receptionist, Jennifer Rivers, opened the door and asked...

“Do you have time to show some tourists around the office?”


It turned out that a small group of Japanese businessmen wanted to take a tour of our 3,000-square-foot facility. This was back in 1996, and K2’s main offices were at 55 Broad Street in the New York Information Technology Center (NYITC for short)... we were one of fifty new media tech companies but the only one in the building that was publicly traded. So, alas, we attracted the curious.

I had only one hour to spare. As I entered the lobby ten businessmen greeted me, along with the tour guide who served as their interpreter—all from Japan and all very curious about this phenomenon called the “Internet boom.” As we shall see, their curiosity was symbolic (and still is) of a much larger divide—not just between East and West, but between comfortably old methodologies smacking into radically new ways of doing business.

I immediately introduced myself and smiled to the group. The tour guide, a woman named Yumi, explained that they wished to see K2. Of course, I agreed. Knowing a little bit about both Japanese and Chinese culture, I bowed and said it would be my honor. Everyone bowed in unison and smiled.

Questions abounded as I began the tour with a description of the processes at K2: the careful balance among programmers, technology, and designers, and the great care taken to assure that an end user’s experience was seamless and memorable. Our visitors seemed to be mentally contrasting what appeared to be a loose management style with traditional Japanese management. To them, K2’s approach made no sense. Contrasts between East and West are not new, but the dot-com boom made them even more apparent.

Seeing their puzzlement, I attempted to enlighten them.  
“Everyone here is encouraged to bring fresh ideas to the table, and we do our best to support and reward those ideas. Nothing is considered a dumb idea, and without everyone’s input, most projects would be mediocre.”

This answer seemed to amaze them. According to Yumi, this was not how business is done in Japan. There must be hierarchy and structure. Communication was one-way in their organizational chart. Some in the group looked confused, and I imagined their blank looks were saying, “How in the hell do these young Americans get any work done?” Where is the taskmaster? They didn’t understand that mass collaboration was what made our business most effective. It was like trying to get Boomers to understand the business training a teenager was receiving by playing World of Warcraft.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What I failed to mention at the time, and what perhaps could have satisfied their curiosity, is that we always hired smart people at K2 who weren’t afraid to speak up. We gave people flexible time to get their work finished while balancing out deadlines. In other words, if it took four hours to get eight hours’ worth of work finished, then an employee could work on something else, create a project for the company, or leave early and work from home.

Without knowing it we had created at K2 a results-only work environment (ROWE), where our best employees were rewarded for their results rather than the number of hours worked. In these environments, productivity goes up, workers satisfaction goes up, and turnover virtually disappears.

By contrast, whenever a strict cultural paradigm does not allow for input from lower-level employees, executives miss innovations that could have made their companies instant leaders. In such a world, one must earn the “right” to be listened to and lower-rung employees can’t possibly have an effective contribution. Without permission, no one shares their insights.

In today’s world, self-motivated, peer-to-peer communication speeds up the creation of innovative ideas by giving them the platform to be heard.


This isn’t some new-age management philosophy; this has been field-tested all over the world by the best management and behavioral scientists on Earth. Giving smart people autonomy in an organization and the ability to manage their own time creates groundbreaking output.

In our company, project managers pushed every project through in order to meet deadlines, but they were just as responsible for input as they were for receiving a critique. Not seeing an official commander-in-chief must have seemed strange to these visiting hierarchy junkies, but to our project managers, a traditional top-down approach would have seemed like a cattle drive: “I don’t care how you get there, just get it to market.”

Our managers knew that the best way to build dynamic experiences and products for consumers is to give them not just what they want but what they need, and to do so alongside things that are exciting and add value.

In order to create such dynamic experiences for a user, the people building the website have the freedom to create one-of-a-kind experiences. Utilitarian doesn’t work in Internet development.

I took our tour through the programming department, then into accounting where Seth Bressman our CFO was overseeing payroll, then into the producer’s area. Everything at K2 had a tinge of corporate and creative rolled into one: cubicles but fully exposed HVAC and ductwork to give it an industrial air yet retain that loft feeling. The last stop on the tour was our design department, a five-sided, uneven room with a black Formica wraparound counter with multiple workstations, all Macintosh with twenty-three-inch screens. The only light sources were from the monitors and any light from the sixth-floor terrace outside. The design department was state of the art and the coolest part of our offices, so it was the best place to end our tour.

I opened up the floor to Q&A. A very polished businessman wearing corporate casual, with a camera strapped around his neck and a pair of thick glasses, asked a question.

Yumi turned to translate.

“What is your initial market cap?
“It’s $26 million and growing,” I responded.
There was a slight delay as Yumi would reinterpret my words into Japanese.
I was careful not to use slang or American colloquialisms.
“You appear to be in hyper-growth. Is that true?”
“Yes,”
I replied. “As a matter of fact we are getting ready to consolidate our other three divisions under one congruous, 13,000-square-foot office across the street at 30 Broad.” We were actually two months away from moving our workforce of sixty full-time employees. I wondered how these businessmen from the Land of the Rising Sun could see what we were going through when American investors couldn’t. Perhaps they were looking for different things.

Pulling the Lid off the Past


The older Japanese businessmen didn’t seem to understand that the greatest innovations in technology and the freshest ideas can come from anyone—young or old—especially when the environment is right. Products that have excited consumers do so because the company that created them built something passionately and creatively to solve a problem or excite the customer. From dishwashing liquid to sports cars to computers, the leaders are always the most creative and the ones that incite an emotional response from their customer. You may not be aware of this, but just about everything you have ever purchased in your life was due to the fact that it was the most creative, coolest thing in your world and it made life better. Period. We don’t buy things; we buy experiences. What we think this product or that will give us, whether it’s cleaner clothes, faster Internet access, or the most luxurious car our dollar can buy.

Without consistent creativity, there is no innovation.
So why do so many companies ignore creativity as a line item?


Part of the reason creativity appears to be absent in most companies is that most executives don’t really understand it—or how to manage it. The old saying “If it isn’t measurable, it isn’t manageable” has been flipped. It doesn’t look like a real business environment when it appears that people are having fun. And ROWE works only for companies where more complex, conceptual, creative output is their business. Traditional management and reward paradigms work well in companies where there is a narrow band of focus—a simple set of rules, goals, and tasks to follow and a reward for top performers.

But in companies where complex, out-of-the-box thinking is needed to stay consistently in the innovative sweet spot, managers would do well to adopt a results-only environment. With no clearly set work hours, the emphasis is on results—not time at a cubicle. Measuring individual output becomes the standard for measurement in a ROWE-run company. No one cares when you decide to work or where, as long as it comes in on deadline and is impeccable. Not surprisingly these environments have the highest employee satisfaction and the lowest turnover.

But results-only environments are not the best environments for everyone, especially those environments where an actual amount of work is measurable—for example, how many pieces did you assemble during an eight-hour shift? Or how many welds did you accomplish? Certain jobs and departments—accounting, baking, and construction come to mind—just cannot be run openly like this. But we can make these environments better places to work by giving employees the incentive to come forward with money-saving and money-making ideas—ideas that won’t interfere with productivity.

Results-only collaborative environments can actually be destructive to people who lack the discipline to self-manage their time or those who are incapable of taking responsibility for their work. People like this should stay in environments where management is hanging over their shoulder, where all they have to do is follow rules and finish a task. For people like this, working alone and taking responsibility for their own time management is not something they can ever get used to. It is too loose for their work ethic. They need (and want) to be managed.

To have consistent breakthroughs, intense creativity, and innovation, however, letting people manage their own time and output is the key to success."


Don't you think it's time we managed people better? Thank you for reading...

Happy New Year. I'm going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. See ya next year.



Brad Szollose 
Global Management Consultant
Millennial Expert, Leadership Development & Workforce Performance Strategies



Brad Szollose is a globally recognized Management Consultant and the foremost authority on Millennials, Generational Leadership Development and Workforce Performance Strategies.


Author of the award-winning, bestseller Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, Brad is a former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that he cofounded that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years; the first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company K2 Design, experienced 425% hyper-growth, due in part to a unique management style that won his company the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.
 
Today the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on Millennials, and he has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Inc., Advertising Age, The International Business Times, and The Hindu Business Line to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CBS and other media outlets. 


Brad's programs have transformed a new generation of business leaders, helping them maximize their corporate culture, expectations, productivity, and sales growth in The Information Age.


 
* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author


"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Difference Between Motivation & Incentives

http://liquidleadership.blogspot.com/2015/12/whats-your-strategy-in-2016.html

One of my most Popular Blog Posts:

Image courtesy of mack2happy
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One of the biggest problems facing business leaders these days is how to motivate peopleI mean REALLY motivate peoplegetting them excited about their work, willing to put in the extra hours and take each project to the next level. Energy like that is contagious, and believe it or not, not that hard to create.

Now, some of you are thinking...
"Why do I need to motivate people to work? I'm paying them aren't I?"

And I have a counter question:

Would you like a workforce that goes above and beyond
the call of duty, or do you want people
who do only what is asked of them?


I am a Baby Boomer. The first time I heard of something called Results Only Work Environments (ROWE for short) I was cynical. Work is work. deadlines are deadlines. Period. But slowly, I realized that's all people were doing at my companies: working. No one was obsessed with our brand, willing to go the extra mile, putting their genius to work in the success of the company.

So I adapted my personal management style to a new type of workforce. A workforce that is tech-savvy, team driven, passionate about helping the world on top of earning a paycheck. So, how did I tap into that passionate energy? I treated them like a partner, shifted the responsibility to their shoulders, and engaged them in the success of my company.

Now I know, some of you are balking at this, but let's take a trip through history.

Frederick Winslow Taylor invented the concept of an employee in 1903. Factories and assembly-lines needed someone who would show up for a period of time and go home. A worker who obeyed the rules, kept their mouth shut and just assembled stuff. Before the Industrial Revolution, work was seasonal, according to the harvest, and workers moved from town to town. There was no time clock involved.

But for the the Industrial Age to work like a well oiled machine, the workforce needed to do the same. Assumptions were made, and Taylor revealed his arrogance when he exclaimed...

"Workers have 2 inbuilt flaws: they are stupid like an ox, and they are lazy. They will only do the minimum they have to do to not get punished."


REALLY? Sadly, this false assumption continues to this day and is getting in the way of taking us to the next level. Many of today's well-educated, computer savvy, team-driven workers are capable of increasing productivity, IF managed properly. But I bow to my colleagues on this subject...

Tim Askew, founder and CEO of the elite New York and Texas-based international sales execution and consulting firm Corporate Rain International corners the topic of motivation and incentives in his latest blog posting by citing Clayton Christensen, HBS professor and management guru...Tim's take on the subject hits the nail on the head in The Happy Entrepreneur.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Will-Measure-Your-Life/dp/0062102419
Tim's breakdown of Christensen's latest book How Will You Measure Your Life? is exemplary. But and a quote based on a theory articulated by the late psychologist Frederick Herzberg..."Motivation means that you’ve got an engine inside of you that drives you to keep working in order to feel successful and to help the organization be successful."

Incentives on the other hand, are driven by benchmarks that management sets. Engagement is not part of the paradigm. Rules are what matters: was he/she on time? Did they sell enough this quarter? And ‘What do you want to be paid?’ I have seen many top sales people fired because they were late. The company goes out of business in less than 2 years and the owners wonder why.


Let me break it down even further:


Getting people motivated invites them to voluntarily take responsibility for the success or failure of the company. Their input is to be acknowledged and appreciated as a contribution to the bottom line. And if they fail, it is on the shoulders of the individual. Now isn't this a more adult work environment? Each person learns to self-manage their contributions without a boss standing over their shoulder. Work hard, help us succeed and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

Motivation beckons each person to get engaged
in the success of the company.


Incentives, on the other hand, are like a dangling carrot. Yes people will jump through hoops to win, but they are fulfilling tasks only. Obeying the rules? Yes. Pushing? Yes, but not really giving of themselves fully. And guess what else they are NOT doing? Being innovative. Usually in environments like this, people are afraid to rock the boat and bring new ideas to the forefront. Self starters are rewarded because THAT is their nature. Everybody else, just keeps their head down and works.

To be successful in The Information Age, it is important to figure out the secrets of motivation, innovation, creativity and productivity. There ARE new rules. And guess what the top business schools discovered? People are NOT motivated by money.

Engaging today's talent requires leadership to create an environment of support for truth, inspiration and creativity to thrive!  As a friend of mine recently stated "Incentives induces outer action, but a serious lack of engagement eventually follows. Motivation comes from within, and inspires a person to go above and beyond the call of duty." Well said.

Give me a call. I can show you how to move from Rules to Results in a very short time.

As always, thank you for your interest in my work...









Brad Szollose

Global Business Adviser and Consultant
on Millennials and Workforce Performance Strategies


Look up these resources when you get a chance:

For more on Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen his Website: http://www.claytonchristensen.com/

How Will You Measure Your Life?
By Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon.

From Amazon...
"In 2010 world-renowned innovation expert Clayton M. Christensen gave a powerful speech to the Harvard Business School's graduating class. Drawing upon his business research, he offered a series of guidelines for finding meaning and happiness in life. He used examples from his own experiences to explain how high achievers can all too often fall into traps that lead to unhappiness.

The speech was memorable not only because it was deeply revealing but also because it came at a time of intense personal reflection: Christensen had just overcome the same type of cancer that had taken his father's life. As Christensen struggled with the disease, the question "How do you measure your life?" became more urgent and poignant, and he began to share his insights more widely with family, friends, and students."


The Innovator's Dilemma
When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
By Clayton M. Christensen.

From Amazon...
"In this classic bestseller, innovation expert Clayton Christensen shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right—yet still lose market leadership. Read this international bestseller to avoid a similar fate."




For more information on Tim Askew and Corporate Rain:
Corporate Rain Official Website: http://corporaterain.com/

The Corporate Rain Blog:

http://www.corporaterain.com/blog/


Tim is also the Official Entrepreneurial Blogger for Inc. Magazine! See a list of his articles here: http://www.inc.com/author/tim-askew

I try to bring the very best and up-to-date information to my clients. Tim is on the pulse of bringing entrepreneurial wisdom to the executive suite. Wisdom that works in the real world.

This is powerful stuff, so I suggest you get in there and learn from these experts in the field;-)


Brad Szollose is a global business adviser on Millennials and the foremost authority on Generational Leadership Development and Workforce Engagement Strategies.

Author of the award-winning, bestseller Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, Brad is a former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that he cofounded that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years; the first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company K2 Design, experienced 425% hyper-growth, due in part to a unique management style that won his company the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.

Known for his humorous and thought-provoking presentations, Brad’s keynotes and workshops are highly interactive, heart-warming, and filled with high-content information that challenge assumptions and help leaders and managers create a better work environment for innovation to thrive.

Today, Brad helps smart companies like Dell and MasterCard, understand just how much technology has transformed a new generation, and how that impacts corporate culture, management interaction, expectations, productivity and sales in The Information Age. 

* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author


"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What's Your
Strategy in 2016?



From Liquid Leadership, page 113, True Lies:

"When I first started K2, a producer for the Caribiner Group called us in to help them win a pitch for BMW. I had worked with Scott for almost a decade at Caribiner as an independent contractor before founding K2, and he and I had learned to trust each others skill sets. What he wanted me for in this case was my nontraditional approach to winning massive assignments.

BMW was handing out a $200,000 bonus to any corporate-events company that could come up with a totally outrageous event to launch a brand new type of BMW—a roadster geared toward the younger, newer, hipper car buyer. The Z-Class would look different from any Beamer ever seen—it was sleek, sexy, and shark shaped, and it would bring back the days of driving through the countryside with the top down.

The pitch was not going out to any of the traditional ad agencies, because BMW wanted out-of-the-box thinking. The firm that won the job would be given $10 million to do a nationwide event to promote the car, an event aligned with the advertising agency’s vision. This was going to be a big event over a one-year period. Since Caribiner was the number one corporate-events company in the United States, it was assumed they were a shoo-in.

Because Scott had brought in K2 to help with this brainstorming session, Doug and I had assumed we’d get at least a polite welcome; yet the moment we entered the room, we could sense the tension and hostility.

Apparently, we were seen as a threat. We learned later that Scott had been getting flak over our presence. Perhaps it for the very reason he wanted us in the first place: He just wasn’t that confident in Caribiner’s own creative team.

Scott’s intuition quickly proved justified. As the session got under way, Caribiner’s in-house creative director, whom I’ll call Paul, insisted over and over that the new roadster was being aimed at the eighteen to twenty-four-year-old market. Doug shot back, “Are you sure about that?” at which point Paul assumed an air of arrogance and assured us he knew what BMW was all about.

He began regaling the entire brainstorming session with one quote after another. In the midst of this he said something that gave us even more pause: that he was “pretty sure” that BMW’s target-audience data was sound.

Doug replied, “You’re going to risk a $10 million pitch on a hunch?”


Doug insisted that we needed up-to-date market information, and of course he was right.
By the next meeting, Paul had found out from BMW that the numbers had changed dramatically: The supposed eighteen to twenty-four market had shifted to forty-somethings who wanted to relive their glory days. Oops! Caribiner almost undershot the mark—by twenty years.

Show Up and Listen


There’s a very large lesson in the Caribiner story: Companies that continuously refuse to listen to the truth—whether from their customers or their employees—are usually the last to wake up and discover that their company is in trouble. And no wonder. In environments where honesty is crushed and people are kept in line through hierarchy, employees learn it’s better to give up than give ideas. Why be innovative in a suppressive environment, when a great idea could be viewed as insubordination? 

No one sticks their neck out in such a place. By nurturing an environment for truth, on the other hand, leadership can see problems early and turn them into opportunities."

So what is your strategy for reaching your
customer in the coming year?


If you are paying attention and facing the truth, Millennials shop very differently from Baby Boomers and Generation X shops differently from Millennials. Companies like State Farm have created dual ad campaigns in order to address these differences. Some silly, some serious.

So...what are you doing to address this split in reaching a new digitally savvy customer?  Time for a strategy session that creates a layered, multi-pronged approach don't ya think?

Take care my friends,...and let me know if you need my help this year.









Brad Szollose

Global Business Adviser and Consultant
on Millennials and Workforce Performance Strategies




Brad Szollose is a global business adviser on Millennials and the foremost authority on Generational Leadership Development and Workforce Engagement Strategies.

Author of the award-winning, bestseller Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, Brad is a former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that he cofounded that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years; the first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company K2 Design, experienced 425% hyper-growth, due in part to a unique management style that won his company the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.

Known for his humorous and thought-provoking presentations, Brad’s keynotes and workshops are highly interactive, heart-warming, and filled with high-content information that challenge assumptions and help leaders and managers create a better work environment for innovation to thrive.

Today, Brad helps smart companies like Dell and MasterCard, understand just how much technology has transformed a new generation, and how that impacts corporate culture, management interaction, expectations, productivity and sales in The Information Age. 

* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author


"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.