Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Collective Wisdom – Power to Generate Solutions

Over the past 22 years of my interactions with top executives, I have noticed that most of them never realize the knowledge and expertise exist within their own organizations.

Often stuck in issues such as decline in sales, increasing production losses/costs, staffing, branding etc, they look outside the organization by hiring an “Independent Consultant” for advice.

I ask them why an outside Consultant? You have people who know the company, product and customers. They look at me with blank faces and say “That’s the best practice” or there is any other way out?

Neglecting the wealth of internal knowledge and expertise, most businesses end-up paying massive amount of consultation fee for advice that is often too expensive to implement. Smaller business can’t afford that fee and either vanish or go into deep trouble.

One of the most effective way to overcome issues mentioned above is by encouraging staff and senior management to get engaged in creative discussions focusing Issues-vs-Solutions.

Nothing can beat the power of “Collective Wisdom”. By effective interactions between the staff and senior management, the knowledge and insight gained is invaluable. It not only helps identify solutions to major issues, but also create ownership among staff and boost morale.

Process is easy! Find couple of enthusiastic individuals within the organization and ask them to prepare questions relevant to a specific issue for group discussions. Once questions are validated, call group meetings (ideally 10-15 relevant participants), break them into equal groups. In a relaxed environment float questions one-by-one and generate debate. You will soon realize the extraordinary co-creative potential that exists when human beings start close interaction. You will see the energy, bindings and ownership values emerging.

This "Collective Wisdom" generated by group discussions will layout a clearer path towards solutions that are practical to implement describing “How to –and “How not to”.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Corporate Culture – The Performance Driver

At a gathering of business people, I was approached by a mid-aged entrepreneur. He wanted me to advise him how small companies can introduce “Corporate Culture”?

I said “to me corporate culture is to do with people’s behavior at work and it starts with the BOSS. He is the one who creates vision and practice some specific values”.

When Vision and Values penetrate in the day-to-day working practice of the rest of the team, some specific systems or “Behaviors” emerge and become “Corporate Culture” of that particular company.

Readers would agree with me that entrepreneurs, particularly owners that run smaller companies, often get busy in FIRE FIGHTING and ignore the fact that their own believes are fundamental to determining corporate culture in their organizations and in the long run, vision and values are the two factors help shape the work environment and serve as performance drivers.

In my seventeen years of engagement with the British Deputy High Commission, I observed that in some cases, corporate culture exist by default, however, in smaller and younger organizations, owner’s behavior determines the direction.

So the challenge for you gentlemen is to create good values at your workplace, the corporate culture will emerge automatically!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Team Work – An essential factor for Successful Businesses

My discussions with entrepreneurs, staff and board reveal that they all put lots of emphasis on team work. And strongly believe that the most important factor in making an enterprise profitable is “TEAM WORK”, yet almost none could define team work in simple language. The answers I get are:

Team work means ---------------

• Unity
• Together Everyone Achieves Miracles.
• Achieving set goals through collective group effort
• Corroborative action with all the people involved to gain a single goal/ objective
• Achieving mutually agreed objective through collective efforts with out becoming free rider
• Helps in achieving the vision through smart objective.
• Patience
• Submission
• Teamwork is a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize his/her strengths and minimize his/her weaknesses.
• Teamwork is that when synergies of the team get larger than the sum of individual potentials....may sound too idealistic but that is what an ideal team should be
• It is when no one cares who gets the credit for the success
• This is the "soul" to work as a Team! If this soul is absent, it becomes individualism

To me these are excellent explanations, but a bit more theoretical! I tell them that they need to understand the concept and explain in simple language, otherwise the concept would not cascade down to the lowest levels; making team work a rear phenomenon!

My understanding of “TEAM WORK” is very simple!

Lets watch small clips of a field hockey match or a team of hyena on hunt.

Observe that in both cases, there are teams, the forward player or attacker focuses on the ball or in case of hyena at targeted animal, whereas the rest of the team focuses on the forward player or attacker. Also observe the mental coordination that helps in coordinated moves to strengthen the attack.

This is a great learning for me! Can you develop such team sprit?

If Hyena could do it, you can too……..