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LET THE SPARKS FLY: Innovation Needs a Culture that Fosters Fireworks

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LET THE SPARKS FLY: Innovation Needs a Culture that Fosters Fireworks

This blog is provided by Charles D. Morgan, CEO, First Orion Corporation, as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview The Biography of a Finally Successful Startup aired on 8/27/19.

One of the paradoxes of modern business is that success tends to stifle the innovation that made a company successful in the first place. If you think about it, that’s not all that hard to understand: Innovation breeds success, success breeds expansion, expansion breeds bureaucracy, bureaucracy breeds logjams and a kind of complacent short-sightedness, borne of the sheer weight of that success and the processes that support it. So companies that have become big and successful by creating a successful product tend to focus on continuing to make that product better or on improving the service around that product, rather than on doing the hard work of branching out – of creating something new and different. But this is a recipe for disaster. Today’s business world moves too fast, and if you don’t keep innovating, one of these days you’re not going to be around anymore.

Let me tell you a story: For 35 years, I ran a company called Acxiom Corporation. In the early ‘70s we started, with just 25 employees, as a “service bureau,” which meant we rented out space on our computers to other companies. But as computers became more prevalent, and therefore less expensive, we could see that we were rushing headlong toward a dead end. So we pivoted to direct marketing, and eventually to data mining and database marketing. One by one, we landed the big banks – Citi, Chase, Amex, JPMorgan, you name them, we had them. Between 1982 and 1991, our annual revenue increased from $7 million to some $90 million, the vast majority of it from the banks, who increasingly depended on us to give them accurate information on potential credit card customers. We went public in 1983, adding stockholders to the people we had to please. Growing like a weed, we were adding layers of managers and VPs and directors faster than we could print their business cards. By the middle of the 1980s, I could walk down our main hall and see people I didn’t even know.

To my mind, one of the greatest requirements of a successful CEO is to be able to keep one eye on the far horizon. In the midst of the maelstrom I was looking ahead, and the problem I foresaw was that we couldn’t continue processing greater and greater amounts of data in the same old way without becoming less and less accurate. If we kept doing what we were doing, eventually we would be of no use to the banks, and that would be that. “But,” I said to one of my partners, “what if we could give everybody in the U.S. – and every single address – a number?” Such a thing had never been done. But I knew that if we could come up with a series of constant numbers, we could eliminate much of the time, computer power, and uncertainty then inherent in data processing.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t even a choice –it was either disrupt every single process that we had worked for two decades to establish, or face the fact that we were on our way to becoming a dinosaur. But oh, the screams, the wails, the hand wringing! I had to finally threaten to quit the company before my people came around and faced the inevitable. And yes, it was hard. It took a couple of years to create the data mining system we called AbiliTec, and several more years to implement it throughout our business – about five years in all. But once done, it kept us relevant. When I left Acxiom in 2008, we were the global leader in data mining and its accompanying technology, with 7,000 employees worldwide and $1.5 billion in revenue.

Today I’m the CEO of a tech company called First Orion, whose product is spam and scam protection for the major telecoms. We started with three employees in 2008 and now we’re up to nearly 200. We’re in the process of building our own headquarters building in Little Rock, Arkansas.

A lot has changed in business since those pivotal days back at Acxiom. Today, innovation is the name of game – of everybody’s game – and I’ve made sure to create a corporate structure that fosters innovation: no more than three layers of reporting; nimble team-based product and process units; open encouragement for people to try things, to play around with the fireworks of creativity – even if what they come up with doesn’t immediately lead to anything.

You never know where the spark for your next billion-dollar idea will come from, so you better make it easy for the sparks to fly.

 To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

 Charles D. Morgan is the visionary former Chairman and CEO of Acxiom Corporation, and is now Chairman and CEO of his latest tech venture, First Orion.  His new book is Now What?  The Biography of a (Finally) Successful Startup.  Morgan lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.  For more information, please visit https://firstorion.com.

Check out this and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the ILI LinkedIn.

 

 

Managing Organizational Headwinds in Digital Transformation

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Managing Organizational Headwinds in Digital Transformation

This blog is provided by Tony Saldanha, extracted and exclusively adapted from his book “Why Digital Transformations Fail,” as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future with Maureen Metcalf. This interview aired on 8/20/19.

Organizational change management is treated as an afterthought for digital transformation as opposed to being proactively planned for. That’s troubling because based on my research, more digital transformations fail due to organizational change related reasons than technology. Most reliable process systems, such as say aircraft flights, plan for headwinds. Digital transformation can learn from them. Unfortunately, organizational headwinds are often dismissed in simplistic terms like change resistance or the frozen middle. That’s a mistake when planning for success in digital transformation.

The Science of Immune System Management

A corporate immune system is not necessarily a bad thing. Like its counterpart in the human body, it plays a vital role. In our bodies, the immune system protects us from disease and keeps us healthy. It is true that immune system disorders can be problematic (i.e., an immune system deficiency leaves the body susceptible to constant infections, while an overactive immune system will fight healthy tissues). However, on balance, a healthy immune system is desirable.

If that’s true, then why do so many change leaders blame the corporate immune system when things go south? Shouldn’t disciplined change leaders understand the strength of the immune system within their own organizations and prepare for appropriate handling?

At Procter & Gamble, when leading the industry disruption ecosystem, which included the biggest five IT companies and startups from the top ten venture capitalist firms, we took a different approach. For each of the twenty-five experiments (projects) that the ecosystem, called Next Generation Services (NGS) executed during my three years, there was always a proactive immune system conversation and plan. It made a huge difference versus historical trends on disruptive change acceptance.

There were three key truths that drove our approach:

–        The immune system is not necessarily a bad thing. Anticipate and prepare for immune system responses.

–        Immune system responses can originate at all levels in the organization, but the toughest ones occur at middle management.

–        The bigger the change, the harder the immune system response (i.e., digital transformation will be tough).

Having covered the first item, let’s zero in on the issue of middle management reaction. In most organizations, it is easy to get senior executive leadership excited about change. Similarly, the younger generation gets quickly on board. It is the middle management layer that’s on the critical path and has the potential to slow down or even block change. The term “frozen middle” has been associated with this phenomenon. This concept was published in a Harvard Business Review article in 2005 by Jonathan Bynes.[i] Bynes’s point was that the most important thing a CEO could do to boost company performance was to build the capabilities of middle management.

For corporate immune system disorders at the middle management level, the term “frozen middle” is accurate, but it comes with the risk of being pejorative for seeming to blame middle management for recalcitrance and inertia. In reality, the responsibility to bring middle management along on the journey resides with the change leaders and their sponsors. Consider this—the so-called frozen middle protects the enterprise from unnecessary distractions and change, just like the human immune system protects the body from harmful change. Middle managers are rewarded mostly for running stable operations. Is it fair to criticize them as a whole for doing what their reward system dictates? We must separate immune system disorders from normal immune system responses.

At NGS, we paid special attention to identifying, by name, the middle management leader for each affected project. We identified the middle management leaders affected by each project, involved them in the initial “fun” of designing the disruption, and jointly designed the risky roll-out of disruptive projects that could destabilize ongoing operations.

In the worst case, where despite the enrolling of the leadership the change resistance continued to be high, the project was quickly killed. That idea of selectively killing a few projects worked well because of the portfolio effect of having several other projects available in the pipeline.

Though the concept of a frozen middle is applicable broadly, overcoming it has never been as critical as it is with digital disruption. The amount of change necessitated by a systemic and sustainable digital transformation is massive. This isn’t just a technology or product or process change but also an organizational culture change. The middle management will need to lead the rest of the organization in learning new capabilities (i.e., digital) as well as new ways of working in the digital era, including encouraging agility, taking risk, and re-creating entire new business models and internal processes. Retraining middle management on digital possibilities is not sufficient. Entirely new reward systems and organizational processes will be called for.

Planning for headwinds during digital transformation isn’t just prudent, it’s a necessity given the high stakes of digital disruption. Emphasizing on “transformation”, more than on “digital” is a strategic imperative for success. For this, understanding and acting on the three truths of immune system management is critical i.e. it isn’t willful bad behavior but a rewards issue, it can happen at all levels in the organization but is toughest in the middle layers, and digital transformation by nature needs solving the toughest immune system challenges.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Tony Saldanha is a globally recognized expert in Global Business Services (GBS) and Information Technology. He ran Procter & Gamble’s famed multi-billion dollar GBS and IT operations in every region across the world during a 27 year career there. Tony has over three decades of international business expertise in the US, Europe, and Asia. He was named on Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Professionals list in 2013. Tony’s experiences include GBS design and operations, CIO positions, acquisitions and divestitures, outsourcing, disruptive innovation, and creation of new business models. Tony is currently President of Transformant, a consulting organization that advises top companies around the world in digital transformation and global business services. He is also a founder of two blockchain and AI companies, and an adviser to venture capital companies.

.[i] Jonathan L. S. Byrnes, “Middle Management Excellence,” jlbyrnes.com, December 5, 2005, http://jlbyrnes.com/uploads/Main/Middle Management Excellence HBSWK 12-05.pdf [accessed December 19, 2018].

 

Six Ways To Prepare Your Team For A Digital Transformation

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Six Ways To Prepare Your Team For A Digital Transformation

The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf. It is the companion to an interview conducted with Mike Kritzman, Founder and CEO of SkillNet on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on Tuesday, July 23rd titled SkillNet: Personalized Learning Framework for Your Company.

Experts have been discussing technological changes, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, for a while now. I believe many professionals have accepted that this is how the world is unfolding, but they don’t necessarily have a clear view of what it means for their employees.

Many of the leaders I work with are curious about digital transformation and would like to be proactive, but they aren’t sure where to start. My role is to help them with a range of activities, including understanding opportunities and connecting them with our expert partners who can help them accomplish their goals.

I predict that many (if not all) industries will feel the effects of these technological advances, some at different rates and with different specifics. According to the 2018 jobs report by the World Economic Forum, at least half of the U.S. workforce will require significant reskilling by 2022.

I’ve developed a few ways leaders can become proactive and stay on top of these changes in the workplace:

  1. Continually update your mindset to demystify changes.

I’ve observed that many of the changes we are facing involve the automation of tasks in our lives. In my experience, keeping up with these changes can be as simple as taking the time to read articles from credible sources that explain the adoption of more technology. Make a conscious effort to understand more about what this tech is and how it could impact your organization.

Forbes Insights

  1. Take a look at what could be automated.

Ask yourself which aspects of your role or company can be automated by technology. As you explore the landscape of current and future software, do you see routine parts of your organization’s work that can be more effectively done by technology? I’ve found that this frees people to process the difficult cases that require more unique analysis. Plan any future changes in your company over time so you can schedule skill-building exercises that intersect with when these changes will occur.

  1. Determine a strategic approach to reskilling.

The World Economic Forum’s job survey also reported that the time it takes to reskill workers can vary among organizations. So, define and enable a plan for continuous reskilling. One plan, for example, might include using software that offers a range of content that is aligned with your development goals. Or, you could consider using a combination of online training and mentoring with coaching. I’ve found this can help provide more flexibility for busy employees, as well as combat the cost of in-person training so that you still receive hands-on guidance and strong learning outcomes.

  1. Address new job requirements with innovative hiring practices.

In my experience, it can be difficult to find good matches for open positions that cannot be filled via reskilling. I’ve observed a number of companies that are beginning to implement more digital practices of hiring to help save themselves some time. My own company, for example, uses a digital tool that allows job candidates to fill out an assessment before they’re ever interviewed, and we can then see if they are a match for the roles that need to be filled. This allows us to save time and find the best person for the job. So take a look at your current hiring process, and if you find there is room for improvement, brainstorm a few ways your hiring methods could be more effective and efficient — it might even help you in the long run.

  1. Consider utilizing microlearning tools.

I’ve found microlearning tools — content that is provided in a broken-up, easy-to-digest way — can help employees and organizations share the responsibility of upskilling. This way, you can enable an ongoing conversation and focus on reskilling, as well as ensure your team has the tools to recognize any gaps in their knowledge and can continue to improve. Find and utilize the tools that fit the needs of your business and team so they can set milestones and achieve development goals.

  1. Build a culture that supports ongoing skill evolution.

Beyond addressing one-time skill gaps, companies now need to create systems and cultures that ensure learning is easy to access and ongoing. In a business sense, I believe this will need to become as common as personal hygiene. Most of us would not imagine showing up in the office without brushing our teeth. In my opinion, as we go forward, the most innovative companies and employees will develop a similar view about learning: It’s a necessity.

I believe one of the simplest steps to encourage ongoing learning and skill-building is to choose one of the aforementioned recommendations to pilot. Experiment with these tools, and identify which ones fill your immediate needs. Then, expand on this exploration item by item.

As we step into what I like to call the “Wild West” of emerging technologies, I believe all leaders and employees will need to understand new trends and manage them to their advantage. An ongoing theme I’ve observed is that we as leaders must find ways to understand the changes our organizations need to make to meet our missions and ensure our teams are able to develop their skills. As leaders, you are uniquely positioned to invest in defining a comprehensive approach to identify and fill gaps on a regular basis and create work that is fulfilling for your team and your company.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the author

Ms. Metcalf – Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute (formerly Metcalf & Associates) is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.

Top Ten on Demand Episodes on Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future

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Top Ten on Demand Episodes on Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future

4 Year Anniversary.pngInnovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future is celebrating the completion of its 4th year on Voice America Business channel!!  In honor of that milestone, we are sharing the countdown of the most listened to shows on demand.  These shows can be listened to via the internet or via the Business channel on the Voice America app. Use the links to access the episodes and the guest bios.  Thanks for 4 great years of listening!

10.   How Does the Brain Impact Leadership Resilience?  with John Wortmann aired on 9/11/2018

Resilience is a key factor in leadership success during times of stress. Our ability to manage our own energy and thinking have a significant impact on our ability to deliver personally and on our ability to inspire our followers. By building our resilience and creating a culture where others are expected to build theirs, we can make a significant impact on driving and sustaining our success as individuals and as organizations. Jon and Maureen start with defining resilience then move to the critical aspects of personal resilience. They include a focus on how brains and bodies react to stress and practices that will reduce the impact events have on leaders. discuss their areas of expertise in brain functioning. This interview includes a discussion of specific tools that allow leaders to build more resilient brains and reduce emotional reactivity. These tools help leaders manage feelings thereby also reducing stress. Equipped with these tools, leaders need to build practices.

9.  Winning In The Face of Adversity with Joyce Beatty, Congresswoman and Doug McCollough aired on 10/23/18

In a time when people are sharing more of their personal struggles, we talk to Congress Woman Beatty and Doug McCollough about their struggle and more importantly how they navigated those struggles so that they could make their greatest impact on the world. Congresswoman Beatty not only overcame, she changed the people’s view of what it was to be a successful black woman and she mentored women to make sure the pipeline behind her was strong and the country was better because of all facets of her service! She talks about how helping women succeed helps America succeed. She serves as a role model for inclusion globally by serving with grace and decorum! Doug shares how his focus on inclusion is expanding the field of employees working in technology in central Ohio. Through his board work as well as his work as CIO, he is creating a pipeline that allows unemployed people to get trained and find technology jobs. He is helping build the system that will close this gap long term!

8.  Position Success Indicator: Identify Where You Fit with Mark Palmer and Warner Moore aired on 11/13/18

According to a McKinsey study in 2018 focusing on the future of work: “technologies will transform the nature of work and the workplace itself. Machines will be able to carry out more of the tasks done by humans, complement the work that humans do, and even perform some tasks that go beyond what humans can do. As a result, some occupations will decline, others will grow, and many more will change. While we believe there will be enough work to go around (barring extreme scenarios), society will need to grapple with significant workforce transitions and dislocation. Workers will need to acquire new skills and adapt to the increasingly capable machines alongside them in the workplace. They may have to move from declining occupations to growing and, in some cases, new occupations.” The interview explores how the Position Success Indicator assessment identifies “job DNA” based on occupational traits that help people determine their best role fit to support workforce transitions.

7. Sustainability: Why Hasn’t It Been Embraced? with Christoph Hinske, Michelle Thatcher, and Khoo Hock Aun aired on 6/25/19

“Business as usual” can no longer be the leader thought pattern in regard to environmental impacts made by businesses. We are at a critical point where sustainability and impacts on the environment by business practices must be considered. What as leaders can we do to make a difference in these highly sensitive decisions? Christoph Hinske, Michelle Thatcher and Khoo Hock Aun discuss the options leaders have to encourage favorable corporate behavior and what leaders can do to make a difference.

6.  How Developmental Maturity Aligns with Organizational Maturity with Terri O’Fallon and Kim Barta aired on 9/25/18

During this show, Terri, Kim and Maureen talk about the interconnection between organizational issues and levels of developmental maturity. The conversation focuses on three types of issues and how they map to maturity as well as approaches to address them: 1. Existential, the group is moving to a new developmental level. How does it look for the organization? How do you see individuals? Do you have recommended course of action to help move forward? 2. Breadth, the group has the necessary philosophy and capacities at the level they are at, but they don’t have the skills they need. How does it look for the organization? How do you see individuals? Do you have recommended course of action to help move forward? 3. Shadow, the group has an adequate developmental level and skills but they have group shadow material that is holding them back. Let’s revisit what is shadow material? How should the team work to address it?

5. Leadership Happy Hour: Aspirations – Fuel for Results with Greg Moran and Terri Bettinger aired on 9/4/18

This is the kick-off of our leadership happy hour series. During this conversation, Greg, Terri and Maureen discuss the topic of aspirations over the courses of their leadership careers. Aspiration has the power to expand our limits and potential by motivating us to test our capabilities and competencies further and in new ways. It has a completely different effect on us than its evil twin – desperation. Not that aspiration is inherently good or desperation is inherently bad, but when people believe, the paths they follow look very different than when they do not. The conversation will touch on the following among many others topics: 1. The power of aspiration as a means of creating opportunity where it is desired 2. Aspiration is necessary filtered through our values and priorities – and that’s okay! How do we remove the limits of aspiration when they have been indoctrinated into leaders for reasons that have nothing to do with their potential (i.e. race, gender, etc.).

4. Ron Heifetz on Adaptive Learning and His Journey with Ron Heifetz, PhD aired on 12/6/16

During the Interview, we discuss Ron’s thoughts on leadership and his journey. Here is a preview: In times of change, people often try to hold onto the values of their culture that have had personal meaning and significance to them. When dominant cultures are confronted with stresses such as immigrants, they are called to examine their values and often required to take on very difficult integrative work. The leadership required must point out values such as: We stand for freedom and respect for all people, and our policy does not align with what we say we stand for. How do we make space for this evolution? What are the “gives” and “gets” required to evolve cultures? How can we hold steady to our cultural DNA and still evolve? In nature, when an organism adapts, it builds on its old capacity and generates radically new functionality. Ron suggested that “God didn’t do zero-based budgeting in evolution”. We honor our past and at the same time determine what can we release.

3. Top Leadership Trends in 2018 and Beyond with Christopher Washington aired on 8/21/18

Each year Maureen publishes a synthesis of the interviews she hosted and discuss the main themes she is hearing in the past year as well as in her consulting work with senior executives around the world. She has now completed more than 150 interviews. This interview is a synthesis of what she is taking away as key themes for leaders and executives to focus on for 2018 – 2022. This is a rolling synthesis, she will update it again in 2019 with new themes. Christopher Washington, PhD, hosts this show and discusses what he is seeing as a board member of Global Ties and EVP/CEO of Urbana University. The goal of this conversation is that listeners have a clearer understanding of the global leadership trends and what they might do personally to prepare themselves and their organizations to respond.

2. A Case Study of Doing Well By Doing Good: The Internet Backpack with Dr. Dale Meyerrose aired 10/2/18

We have been hearing about the topic of doing well by doing good for a few years. Should tech leaders take adopt this concept to reevaluate how they do business? If so, why would they? How would they? To take the question further, what accountability (if any) do leaders have for the uses of their products and services? During this conversation, Dale and Maureen will discuss the questions posed above and a project Dale has been involved with where Imcon International Inc., the developer of the Internet Backpack, a remote connectivity solution that allows users to communicate from almost every location on the planet, the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University and the Republic of Liberia will collaborate on a far reaching project that will digitally transform Liberia by increasing the nation’s current internet penetration of about 7% to 40% by 2021. This project is a strong example to illustrate how technology leaders can solve global challenges.

1.  A CIO Story of Leadership: Maria Urani – NetJets with Maria Urani aired on 8/14/18

Leaders follow many paths to success – in a time of varying role models for exceptional leadership, Maria talks about how she developed over her career. She shares her values, her path to CIO, role models and the art of leadership. Many people develop visions but living them is the art. Maria talks about how she puts her values into action to create a positive workplace, great results and strong successors. She shares: 1. Her passion and how it connects to her work 2. the art of leadership 3. her path to leadership – career is lattice more than a ladder 4. her role models – actual and virtual 5. the value of inverted mentoring 6. the role of empowerment in IT transformation at NetJets She shares her insights and career journey with passion and wisdom.

Thanks for listening! 

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

Considerations Before You Outsource Your BCM/DR Program

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Variety
Considerations Before You Outsource Your BCM/DR Program

Sometimes you just can’t build or manage your Business Continuity Management (BCM) / Disaster Recovery (DR) program because your organization may not have the ability to develop and implement the program or the skills to do it. When that discovery is made, you might look outside your organization for help; an external vendor or a consulting service. Before you make that final decision, there are some topics you need consider and some questions you might want to ask of the prospective vendor(s)/consultant(s) before you hand the program over them. It’s an important step. This show will identify many topics to consider asking prospective partners before you take that leap and hand over you BCM/DR program to an external source. Remember, you might want to outsource your program but you’re still responsible for it. So make sure you consider every aspect before making that final decision.

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BCM: Assessing Partners & Vendors

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Variety
BCM: Assessing Partners & Vendors

The 2018-05-31 show will focus on the questions we need to ask of our key business partners and vendors with regards to their BCM / DR programs.  Don’t you want to do business with an organization that can respond to a disaster?

Preparing4Unexpected-AFullick.jpg

 

Building an A-Team

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Building an A-Team

Everybody’s heard of WD-40.

Right?

Unless you never do a home repair—or your own maintenance even—you almost certainly own at least one yellow and blue can of WD-40. If you’re like me, you have several, in various states of can-half-full or can-half-empty; depending on how optimistic you feel.

While WD-40 the product is well and widely known, almost ubiquitous, WD-40 the company flies a little under the radar. You’re not likely to think of it first when making a list of great corporate cultures.

WD-40, created in 1959, dominates its market and is found in 75 percent of American households. Many competitors have tried to dislodge it, yet it remains the top selling multipurpose lubrication product, year after year.

How did this essentially one-product company rise to be the cream of the crop and then stay there for 60 years? It’s a good product. But its stalwart success has been aided by a corporate culture focused on the growth of its people. Our research found that WD-40 has built an A team, practicing a human resources strategy that fosters what I refer to as “personal disruption.” This strategy and the fascinating stories of people who engage in it are the subject of my Disrupt Yourself Live on VoiceAmerica Business Channel. It revolves around learning and the visualization of S shaped learning curves: employees start as beginners at the low end of the curve, embracing the challenges and relatively slow progress associated with being a novice; there is a phase of deep engagement as you learn, grow and gain traction, represented by the steeply ascending back of the curve; and at the top there is the joy of mastery.

Typically, however, mastery is quickly followed by boredom, stagnation and a leveling or even decline in productivity as engagement is replaced by its dreaded opposite. Human brains are wired to learn, and change, not stasis, is our natural state of being. Performing the same tasks again and again as they become increasingly mindless and routine is the recipe for disengagement. The top of the learning curve becomes a plateau and then a precipice unless employees are offered a new challenge to tackle and the cycle starts over. Corporate cultures that emphasize employee development, ongoing training, and have high levels of internal mobility, like WD-40, are proactively addressing a human need that must be met if talented human resources are going to yield a high return on investment within their workplaces.

According to the famous Gallup poll on the subject, only 33 percent of U.S. employees are engaged in their work. Worldwide, those numbers are more abysmal: just 15 percent of employees say they’re engaged. But at WD-40, a whopping 93 percent of employees consider themselves to be engaged in their work, and 97 percent say they are excited about the future of the company. At WD-40, temporary summer interns have become senior executives, and the C-Suite is not beyond the reach of the front desk receptionist.

The enlightening story of WD-40’s successful strategy is just one example of innovative companies that employ similar strategies which I have highlighted in my new book, released May 1st, 2018 Build an A-Team: Play to Their Strengths and Lead Them Up the Learning Curve. The research demonstrates that workplace cultures focused on learning produce employees with greater motivation, higher morale, better performance, and deeper engagement – leading to greater overall success for the organization.

Don’t Let Third Parties Bring You Down

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Don’t Let Third Parties Bring You Down

Without an effective vendor management program, the threat looms large.

How can a business effectively manage the oversight of its third-party vendors’ security and privacy programs? After all, these are completely independent organizations, running their own businesses and executing their own practices.

It may sound overwhelming (perhaps even impossible), but it is doable with an effective vendor management program.

Below are five key components to such a program. Keep in mind these are not one-and-done to-do’s. Each of the following should be performed on an ongoing basis.

  1. Document all third-party vendors.

Do you know every vendor doing work for your organization? The first, and possibly most neglected, step is to identify and document at least the following details for all vendors:

  • Contact names
  • Office locations
  • Dates contracted
  • Services performed
  • Data shared

Be sure to keep these details up-to-date for all vendors. You should also retain this information for past vendors for at least six years (longer if your business must follow strict data retention requirements).

One thing to watch out for, especially in large organizations with multiple locations, is multiple vendor contracts. Often, these firms will contract the same vendor to perform the same activities for each location, yet under differing contractual agreements. This creates an additional risk of vendor non-compliance.

  1. Document the information each vendor accesses.

Once you have identified all vendors, you need to document the types of information each has access to. For example: full name, mailing address, phone number, social security number, email address, birthdate, etc. More access to sensitive information (e.g. health data, social security numbers, etc.) means higher risk, and therefore, requires more oversight. Be sure to document the security controls associated with each vendor and establish a way to keep the information up-to-date.

Once you’ve identified the data each vendor accesses, you are ready to determine the risks to that data. The most effective way is a data flow analysis in combination with a risk evaluation. When it comes to performing this analysis, keep in mind simpler is usually better.

  1. Establish and update contractual requirements.

Determine if your contractual requirements for each vendor are adequate. At a minimum, your contract should include rights to:

  • Audit
  • Request completed risk evaluations on a regular basis (quarterly or bi-annual)
  • Be notified and approve of any subcontracting involving data
  • Review vendors’ documented information security and privacy policies
  • Be notified as soon as possible (typically within one business day) of a breach
  1. Determine and monitor risk levels.

You also need to determine the level of risk each vendor presents to your organization. You can often establish a preliminary risk level based on the following details:

  • The amount of sensitive information involved
  • The number of locations, including number of countries, the vendor is using to store and process data
  • The number of the vendor employees who have access to data
  • The number of technologies / devices used
  • The maturity of the vendor’s information security and privacy program
  1. Establish a plan for ongoing oversight.

There are many effective ways to maintain oversight of your vendors. Which you choose depends on the type of service the vendor provides. Below are some options to consider:

  • Obtain monthly or quarterly attestations from your vendors’ executives. By attesting that security and privacy programs are maintained and enforced, the executives become even more personally accountable.
  • Perform risk assessments. These assessments may include requiring the vendors to complete surveys to help you evaluate their security and privacy programs.
  • Require and monitor your vendors’ regulatory compliance specific to their industries and applicable legal requirements.

The more automated you can make ongoing oversight the better. However, some of your highest risk vendors may require personal phone meetings, or even on-site visits.

How SIMBUS360 can help

If you need help with any of the above processes, consider a vendor tracking automation tool, such as SIMBUS Tracker. SIMBUS Tracker is powerful vendor management software designed to monitor organizations with access to personal information. It consolidates all necessary compliance verification information and associated records into one simple-to-use, secure platform and performs ongoing oversight of your vendor relationships.

SIMBUS Tracker is available for direct use. It’s also available in a white-label version. So, if you lead a business, such as a law firm, managed services IT firm, consultancy or an accounting practice, and you’d like to help your clients with their own vendor management, SIMBUS Tracker is ideal software for opening up that additional business line or revenue source for your firm. Contact Dave Greek to learn more.

For more information, download our Vendor Oversight & Risk Management Tips guidance document. The document includes common security and privacy risks discovered from more than 300 vendor assessments.

The 7 R’s of Business Continuity and Disaster Planning

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Variety
The 7 R’s of Business Continuity and Disaster Planning

Quite often when Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery practitioners try to convey the various aspects of a Business Continuity Management (BCM) or Disaster Recovery (DR) program, we miss the mark. We use our own language to convey messages and processes that aren’t in others’ diction. This episode will describe 7 terms that start with “R” that a practitioner can use to help describe to executives or non-BCM/DR practitioners what a BCM/DR program is all about and what each phase of the program contains. The 7 R’s will help anyone understand what a BCM/DR program is all about. We’ll even touch on a bonus 8th R – something everyone would be sure to enjoy.

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The Social Project Manager

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Business
The Social Project Manager

Peter Taylor

Rick A. Morris interviews Peter Taylor about his latest book – The Social Project Manager (Balancing Collaboration with Centralised Control in a Project Driven World)
Social project management is a non-traditional way of organising projects and managing project performance and progress aimed at delivering, at the enterprise level, a common goal for the business but harnessing the performance advantages of a collaborative community.  Peter is known for his humorous and direct delivery style and has entertained audiences around the world.  An author of several best-selling books, please join Rick and Peter on what will no doubt be one of the most entertaining hours you can spend learning about project management.

Tune in every Friday at 2pm PST to The Work/Life Balance

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