Timing is Everything

Your perspective on time is vital to the way you make decisions and lead your life. Right now your mind is looking to the past for viable solutions or monitoring present resources or scanning the future for new opportunities. You’re shaped by your focus on what’s gone by, what’s here now, or what’s coming next.

orsay

The MindTime Project has devoted two decades to studying these three time perspectives. They’ve derived a simple diagnostic tool that can pinpoint your time perspective in less than a minute.

Try it. Are you a past thinker, a present thinker, or a future thinker?

Past thinkers gather as much data as possible and are concerned with accuracy and truth. They refuse to take anything at face value. Refusing to trust that “everything will work out,” they attempt to reduce the risk of negative outcomes. They are reflective.

Present thinkers take action and seek control over unfolding events. They abhor chaos and confusion and are driven to establish balance and order, create structure, and get things done. They are practical.

Future thinkers are open to possibilities. They seek out new opportunities and intuit what the future will bring. They are visionaries who promote their visions with enthusiasm and energy. They push the limits of what is known and understood. They are imaginative.

Understanding where you stand on the time horizon is enlightening, but the big payoff comes when you interact with others. For example, I’m a future thinker. That explains why I get upset with Past thinkers who slam me for not providing footnotes and with Present thinkers who want to hold up the show for something I consider inconsequential. The MindTime Framework helps me understand where the others are coming from and appreciate how to work with them.

mindtime(image Copyright 2009 MIndTime)

MindTime can create maps of your organization that reveal the invisible thinking forces that are moving you forward or holding you back. You saw such a map of Chief Learning Officer readers who took the time Profile earlier. How well do you get along with this group? Think about it at the next CLO Symposium.

A landmark study by ASTD and IBM interviewed CLOs and CxOs at 26 leading companies across 11 industries (see The C-level and the Value of Learning, T+D magazine, October 2005). Reading between the lines, the CXOs appear to be Future thinkers; the CLOs are Past and Present thinkers.

C-level officers want their CLO to build the foundation for transforming the company not just to get people up to speed on today’s needs.

The researchers asked how the learning function contributed value to three strategically important business needs: accelerating growth, enabling transformation, and increasing productivity.

The CLOs reported that most learning was technical and focused on skills; training enables the organization to operate. The CxOs said they expected CLOs to lead, not respond. CxOs saw learning as the major investment in driving their businesses forward. Quotations from the study highlight the gap between the two groups’ expectations.

CxOs said,

“The learning function has to become more strategic, otherwise it is an unaffordable luxury.”

“Learning has to bring customers and along the change journey. It has to build the platform to enable us to change the business.”

“CLOs need to build capabilities to address future challenges of the enterprise.”

CLOs said,

“The strategic value of learning is to reduce the cost of turnover and increased employee engagement.”

“The business plan for learning ties directly to business unit goals. Also incorporate our roll-up of individuals’ development plans.”

“CLOs are focused on performance and talent issues related to the current needs of business units.”

Now that you know your time perspective, MindTime suggests you think about your role in your organization. How can you make your particular way of thinking an asset to the group and a contribution to the greater purpose? By being aware of your creative role.

Your thinking style tells you where to look for your most important gift — and what you have to offer others. Vision truth, and productivity: these are the universal values that make a company effective.

For a management team to be successful, each value must be present and respected:

If you are a Future thinker, your role is to carry the vision and ensure that your group embraces innovation, creativity, and receptivity to change.

If you are a Past thinker, your role is to gather true and accurate information and make sure the group considers it carefully.

If your a Present thinker, your role is to help things get moving, and your focus is on planning, low, and harmony.

 

cloAn edited version of this article appears in the December 2013 issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine.

Doug Engelbart, we salute you!

Doug Engelbart
This evening in Palo Alto a group of us in mourning for Doug Engelbart took part in an X-game to celebrate his values and, we hope, carry them far, far, far into the future. A tiny fraction of the time capsule:

When Doug was a young man, he staked out his mission and despite all odds, he never wavered. His vision was audaciously grand, so the cards aren’t played out yet, but his unwavering dedication is beyond awesome.

Moore’s Law should really be known as Engelbart’s Law. (Moore once said so himself.) Doug made us appreciate scaling.

For Doug, connecting hearts and minds was the obvious way to augment human intellect. Bill Gates (“A pc on every desk”) and Steve Jobs (closed Mac) didn’t get it. Neither did most of us until the internet spewed it in our faces. Doug’s office was one of the original two nodes.

Doug, we’re working to keep your flame alive.

Doug Engelbart
Photo by Bill Daul

Future of Talent

A few notes from the Future of Talent Institute‘s 2013 retreat at Marconi Center.

Serendipity powers pull.

The culture question: recruit people to preserve it or to change it?

Bring coyotes (disrupters) to meetings.

“Just let me do good work,” says the new generation.

Meet without a goal. Just listen.

Robotics is not about replacing humans; it’s about picking the right apps to augment humans.

Innovation is the Holy Grail.

Google criteria for hiring: 1. passion for the work, 2. demonstrated ability to do things, 3. eager to learn and able to unlearn

Big data: where the Google criteria came from.

Crumbling hierarchies.

Concept of employee is in question.

New org structures: pods, holocracy, agile, teams à la Hollywood.

The net is your resume. Your network is your references.

Read: Race Against the Machine (McAfee)

Demographics don’t matter at the edges of the extended enterprise. Why should they matter in the core?

Future of Talent is one of my top professional development activities year after year. If you’re into big picture HR, consider joining us next year.

Jeff Bezos: his management values

1. Base your strategy on service, not gadgets. Products and technologies will always change. What never goes out of style is a commitment to “wider selection, lower prices and fast, reliable delivery.”

2. Obsess over customers.

3. Be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time. Bezos tends to take a long-term view on innovations that don’t pay off right away.

4. Work to charge less. Many companies try to charge as much as they can, when they can — Amazon’s culture emphasizes frugality.

5. Determine what your customers need, and work backwards. “Specs for Amazon’s big new projects such as its Kindle tablets and e-book readers have been defined by customers’ desires rather than engineers’ tastes,” says Anders.

6. “Our culture is friendly and intense, but if push comes to shove we’ll settle for intense.”Data — not social cohesion — rules Amazon.

7. Be willing to fail — often. Amazon recognizes that failure is a natural part of the innovation process.

8. “In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.”

9. “Everyone has to be able to work in a call center.” Perhaps a page borrowed from the US Marine manual, in which every marine, regardless of rank or specialty, is a rifleman first. All Amazon managers are expected to be trained as call center representatives.

10. “This is Day 1 for the Internet. We still have so much to learn.” Bezos first said that in 1997, and still believes it.

IT Doesn’t Matter. Business processes do

itdoesntmatterTen years ago this May a journalist named Nick Carr stirred up a ruckus with an article in Harvard Business Review claiming that IT Doesn’t Matter. Using the telephone and shipping by rail were great sources of competitive advantage – until every business could afford them. Then they no longer differentiated those who used them. Carr argued that IT is a mature industry, its presence is assumed, and such things as standards will make it even more of a commodity in the future.

Consultants Howard Smith and Peter Fingar shot back a month later with a paperback retort entitled IT Doesn’t Matter – Business Processes Do. I ordered a copy the day I met Peter last week, and I read the booklet yesterday evening. In 120 pages, Smith and Fingar skewer Carr, show why IT will matter more than ever, and explain how business process management creates riches.

peter

Peter Fingar

The big argument is that “Business process management (BPM) systems can, for the first time in the history of business automation, let companies deal directly with business processes: their discovery, design, deployment, change, and optimization.” As long as there’s innovation, there’s room for making processes better. BPM promises to obliterate the “Business-IT Divide.

To optimize a process, the right hand must know what the left is doing. Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), the melding of ERP, SCM, CRM, PLM, and what-not into one all-encompassing application, is a major step forward, but it doesn’t link the organization with those outside the firewall such as partners and suppliers. Web Services integrate the enterprise with the outside world, connecting business to business, just as the Web connected consumers to businesses in the last decade.

Does this mean all business is going to be carried out using common processes that embed best practices? Not on your life. “BPM will be used both to differentiate (best-in-class) and to standardize (best-practice).” Count on Amazon, for example, to use best-practice standards for email and credit-checking, and FedEx will deliver your order. Don’t expect Amazon to let you peak into proprietary systems such as One-Click Ordering, for that’s where their competitive advantage lies.

Nick Carr’s screed in HBR attacked data processing as we’ve known it. Indeed, that’s not where to look for big value in the future. Business organizations are moving up the ladder a notch to MetaIT. Instead of one-time automation to save labor, they are establishing structures to continuously improve the way they do things.

Authors Smith and Fingar tell us it’s time for the IT tail to stop wagging the Business dog. In their vision of the future, business people will define and own business processes. Instead of doing what-if analyses with numbers on spreadsheets, decision-makers will do what-if analyses of how their business operates or might operate.

As I recently wrote here, it’s as if builders could move walls by shifting them on blueprints displayed on their laptops. With a comprehensive business blueprint, an executive can hand off an entire bundle of processes, say payroll, with minimal fuss (and with knowledge of precisely what savings will result.) A manager can experiment with different ways of getting a job done and chose the one with the most profit potential. A worker can fix a glitch in the system that has been irritating customers for once and for all. In the BPM world, business runs the show.

The authors propose a daunting laundry list of other functions the new paradigm can help accomplish, among them “accountability, activity-based costing, business process outsourcing, competitive intelligence, concurrent engineering, crisis management, inter-organizational systems, just-in-time (JIT), key performance indicators, lifetime customer value, pay-for-performance, resource-based strategy, security audit, scenario planning, and supply chain optimization.” (Whew.)

My interest in all this is how it improves learning and human performance. Process-oriented environments will impact traditional training just as word processing and social change eliminated most of the nation’s secretaries. Process innovation empowers us to create jobs that provide more throughput and greater worker satisfaction, although not through traditional training departments. Imagine the potential of:

  • Workflow learning
  • Transparent human development
  • Grid learning
  • Accountable training
  • Activity-based certification
  • Training value analysis
  • Learning performance management
  • Concurrent knowledge capture
  • Customer learning alignment
  • Personal flow monitoring
  • Psychological stress alerts
  • Individual performance indicators
  • Team competency management
  • Lifetime worker contribution
  • Individualized learning paths
  • Tailored management development
  • On the fly simulations

For training directors and CLOs, the future holds good news or bad news. It depends on where you’re coming from. Training administrators who fail to understand the new dynamics of business as likely to find themselves stripped bare, evaluated by metrics they do not understand, and looking for another line of work. Those who adopt the process mindset take on significant new responsibilities, for everyone knows that the people in the organization are more important than the technology.

After fifty years of waiting for instructions in its corporate cocoon, training is ready to unfold its wings and be recognized as a full-fledged business process.

I wrote this post nearly ten years ago. The wheels of innovation turn slowly.

Press release: Business+MOOCs

meet-the-pressTell your friends. Tell the boss. Tell your resident futurist. Tell your colleagues. Pass the word. Invite the world.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

_____________________________________________________________

 

IMPORTANT, FREE ONLINE MEETING ON MEGA-CLASSES & BUSINESS

 

Wednesday, February 27 at 9:30 am Pacific time

Topic: Business+MOOCs

Location: Google+ Hangout on Air internettime.com/mooc/

 

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Management 3.0 from Jurgen Appelo

Jurgen Appelo plays with more models of how things ought to work than anyone I else I know. His book Management 3.0 presents, assesses, and sometimes interconnects with agile, people-oriented processes relentlessly. I’m a fan. See his blog. And this presentation:

Jurgen and I met at the Stoos gathering. I just bought his latest, How to Change the World, to read on vacation.
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