My Blog

org_design2_mast

I was speaking with a respected senior leader in my industry the other day and during that conversation we both had a mutual revelation. While discussing organizational design, we both agreed that developing sound processes and being able to replicate and scale successes across an organization is fundamentally important and vital to the long term health and wellness of a company.

What wasn’t so blatant, though, was the possible need for dedicated people who have no boundaries and aren’t aligned to specific areas of the business (or tied to specific budgets). Let me explain… The way org design works is that the company is typically split up into different business units that may handle specific functions (human resources, operations, finance, marketing, etc) and then, within each of those areas, there is specialization of labor for various focus areas (process, people, technology, etc). But, nowhere in any of the organizational modeling is there generally any dedicated energy towards the glue that holds everyone together.

I understand that this seems like a totally unnecessary component in an organization. I know there isn’t money in many cases to afford a dedicated position like this. But – I would challenge that – and ask if you can really afford NOT TO have this function? I have seen several organizations do something common across separate silos (e.g. create a performance management tool/scorecard) that would have better been developed once and customized to meet the needs of each area of the business. Using round illustrative numbers and using the example quoted parenthetically above, say each performance scorecard specific to line of business costs $1M. Say there are 10 scorecards (1 for each area) developed over a 3-year span. That’s $10M. What if, alternately, you had developed an enterprise standard scorecard, at the cost of $4M, that met everyone’s needs? You’d likely end up saving that $6M and perhaps even 50% off the overall development timeline. And it’s only when you have someone that is removed from the individual situations (i.e. the areas of the business that each have their own defined need: a performance scorecard for their functional department) that you have someone who can look at this bigger picture and isolate improved collaboration and time/energy/cost-savings opportunities across the larger portfolio of investments.

I think every organization should embrace the cross-functional sharpshooters that can help put end-to-end workflows and program management into perspective. Without them, the organization as a whole is tremendously susceptible to wasted time and energy, and an inefficient allocation of capital.

Til Next Time,

Michael

theinterview

With all of the hype surrounding whether theaters, Sony, or anyone else really made the right decisions with initially pulling the much anticipated film The Interview from its originally-scheduled opening on Christmas, I think a hidden benefit was embedded in the outcome.

While I personally am not a Seth Rogen fan and have no real desire to see the movie (and even less of a desire after some of my friends reviewed it basically saying it was two hours of their life they’ll never have back), the fact that the company rallied to make the film available through streaming, online, and on demand resources in extremely short order is a huge step in the right direction for direct-to-consumer film viewing.  I think the future holds a lot of key decisions on whether some films may be best served direct to the home.  This could be a huge benefit for nearly everyone involved, aside from traditional brick-and-mortar theaters.  Continued innovation in this space would be bad for the theaters, but presents a great opportunity for anyone willing to embrace change (similar to what happened to Blockbuster when the Netflixes of the world forced them to, unsuccessfully, review their business model and what consumer demands really were).

The movie has apparently done fairly well ($15M in first four days), and I’m glad that we now have a benchmark for what’s possible if companies started pushing more content directly to the consumers in preferred viewing outlets.  I think Americans, now more than ever, are enjoying entertainment in the home, whether it’s foregoing sports events or waiting until movies come to TV/DVD so they can save themselves the $10-20 apiece on concessions, food/beverage.  I’m a huge proponent of this shift and was glad to see the parties involved rally around a reasonable and safe solution for delivering their movie to the public.

Til Next Time,

Michael

images

…and Happy Holidays!  I hope as we conclude this year, you are getting a deserved moment of pause.  The ability to recharge batteries and remind ourselves what’s most important is extremely valuable.  I just wish there weren’t so many of us (myself included) who only seem to really capture these moments once a year during the major holiday season.

Til Next Time,

Michael

I think we are at a really critical juncture in our corporate American history. Now more than ever, the battle between “the way it’s always been” (TWIAB) versus “the way it should be” (TWISB) is strikingly prevalent. And the stakes have never been higher.

What’s amazing to me is that this notion or struggle often times seems to have nothing to do with age like one may assume. Typically, one may think that the aging workforce is the group who may be holding on strongest to “always been” versus “should be”. What I have seen in many cases may be exactly the opposite. More junior resources who are brought into a fairly process-oriented structure (think AT&T, for anyone who has worked there or knows anyone who has) often times get married to the process (TWIAB) and see that as their means for being relevant or deserving a position. The upper leadership (commonly older) are the ones who are willing to break the mold or try new things because, in their opinion, the company’s ability to remain relevant is wildly dependent upon their ability to innovate (TWISB).

Now, I realize this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Many older corporate citizens are happily taking golden parachutes and impeding forward growth, whereas the younger guard is embracing high technology and innovation as a means of growth. Hence the recent surge in startups and a migration back towards smaller, more agile companies in technologically competitive environments. I just figured I owed it to the matter at hand to paint the other side of the picture.

What do you think? Are we as Americans becoming too complacent when we embrace “tried and true” processes or TWIAB? Or is that a partially necessary evil to balance out overinvestment in TWISB?

Til Next Time,

Michael

My financial advisor pointed me to a great article the other day on Wealth and Success.  It’s a lot to consume, but as I went through it I definitely identified a lot of areas of opportunity as well as some tactics that I feel like I am already building into my repertoire.  Figured I would share as we enter the holidays and take a chance to reset some goals and objectives for 2015!

Til Next Time,

Michael

Uber has come under a lot of criticism lately for many reasons.  The latest, charging surge prices during a hostage crisis in Sydney.  Either way, I appreciate what Uber does to provide me a safe ride on demand.  I wish that consumer expectations hadn’t changed so much that whenever events like this occur, people crush the service for perceived inadequacies.  Surge pricing is merely an algorithm, and algorithms can’t respond to disaster scenarios (…yet).  I think people need to be a bit more realistic regarding their ability to account for these types of events.  An expensive ride is better than no ride at all.

Til Next Time,

Michael


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