Connecting Human Systems

What’s the biggest challenge of navigating the complexities of the modern business world, where traditional rules and strategies are less effective due to today’s fast-paced and interconnected nature?

The world is becoming increasingly complex, making it harder to predict commercial outcomes. In Team of Teams, General McCrystal says, “Essentially, the rules designed for a complicated world do no longer apply.”

According to Harvard, most innovations today happen in between organizational silos. Unfortunately, studies indicate that the ubiquitous silo barriers complicate horizontal communication and collaboration, thereby significantly reducing a firm’s capacity to innovate effectively.

We found that by aligning and leveraging the organization’s strengths (its positive core, i.e., the capabilities, skills, resources, and assets that are embodied in strategies, processes, systems, and so on), the functional, mental, and information silos can be crossed effectively and organizations can be integrally connected.

Combined with our proprietary framework, Roundmap™, our dialogue-driven approach to change, known as Positive Inquiry™, has a proven track record among companies, institutions, and communities to build resilience and the capacity to self-organize.

Furthermore, we believe organizations stand to benefit from a new role: one that is capable of mastering the complexities within and across the silos to make a change, innovation, or digital business transformation process happen faster and more consistently. We’ve developed the Grandmaster of Business™ Executive Coaching and Business Development Program for this.

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Clients and Partners

Canon USA: Crossing Functional Silos to Create One Marketing Center of Excellence

KERN, a subsidiary of Omnicom Group, hired our team to facilitate a Positive Inquiry Program for Canon USA. The program spanned over 6 months and enabled Canon USA and Canon Solutions America (CSA) to forge one Marketing Center of Excellence by uniting various departments from multiple divisions.

KERN: Create Opportunities to Bring More Innovative Ideas to Corporate Clients

KERN Agency is a marketing agency that mainly serves Fortune 500 companies. However, despite their busy schedules, KERN wanted to make sure that their employees had enough time to bring their clients the best marketing ideas. To achieve this, we conducted over 400 one-to-one interviews, resulting in a richness of ideas.

Working with the Originators of Positive Change at a Positive Inquiry Summit

We had the honor of collaborating with Professor David Cooperrider and Professor Ron Fry from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. They are the pioneers of Positive Inquiry. As a team, we developed the workbook for Canon's Positive Inquiry Summit, with Ron leading the event. It was a highly informative and rewarding experience. We are immensely proud of our work with them.
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Battling The Silo Syndrome

What has the most detrimental impact on a firm’s performance, particularly in the areas of innovation and customer experience?

CROSS-SILO was founded by Edwin Korver in 2016 to put a 7-year study into practice of the dynamics determining a firm’s operational and commercial success ─ in an age of rapid breakthroughs and early breakdowns.

He found that one of the root causes of weak performance comes from a lack of cross-boundary collaboration. This hampers a firm’s ability to innovate in a meaningful way or to deliver seamless, unsurpassable, and highly-personalized customer experiences that are desired and expected by most customers today.

Usually, when growth starts to decline, executives look for new opportunities for growth rather than to fix the silo syndrome. However, if the silo problem persists, the outcome of any substitute endeavor will most likely be as disappointing.

In her book, ‘The Silo Effect,’ Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett exposed how siloed teams severely crippled organizations such as SONY, Bank of England, New York City, and UBS. Gillian Tett commented on her book:

“SONY, when it started out as a company, had a common sense of purpose. But as it grew big it became successful. And success has a terrible curse. It doesn’t just breath complacency, it ignites territorial behavior. One-by-one the different products created their own departments. Bureaucracies sprung up, in which each department was incentivized to defend its own products, its own ideas, its own brilliance.”

By suggesting a new role, a Grandmaster of Business™, a seasoned professional with both a depth of expertise and a breadth of perspective, we aim to remove the negative side effects caused by the silo mentality

And by doing so, we aim to drive cross-boundary collaboration to improve the firm’s readiness to change and its ability to innovate. This will boost its prospects to deliver meaningful value to compete successfully in a most complex world.

“The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make a system’s weaknesses irrelevant.”

Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator, and best-selling author.

From Silos to Integration

How can you make complex decisions in today’s intricate and multifaceted business landscape?

Faced with today’s growing complexities in the business world, we badly need an integrated theory to decide on complex issues. As Bechtel suggests, if we don’t ‘help people to develop a subtle feeling of what is feasible,’ they can’t suppress an otherwise obsession with planning, market research, and management systems.

Fortunately, the Greek philosopher Aristotle provided us with such a theory many centuries ago, known as the Nicomachean Ethics; it is a practical guide toward applying ethics to any complex situation. Founded on Aristotle’s remarkable body of work, we created the Grandmaster’s Playbook.

Prioritizing Horizontal Collaboration

Which relationships are most important for driving innovation, increasing customer loyalty, and achieving higher profit margins?

Harvard’s Heidi Gardner has found that firms with more cross-boundary collaboration achieve greater customer loyalty and higher margins: “As innovation hinges more and more on interdisciplinary cooperation, digitalization transforms business at a breakneck pace, and globalization increasingly requires people to work across national borders, the demand for executives who can lead projects at interfaces keeps rising.”

When asked, professionals prioritize horizontal relationships. Today the vast majority of innovation and business-development opportunities lie in the interfaces between functions, offices, or organizations. In short, the integrated solutions that most customers want, but companies wrestle with developing require horizontal collaboration (across the functional silos).

“Digital used to be about coding and IT. Now it’s becoming a people business.”

Mary Kate Loftus, Senior Vice President, Director of Digital Banking at M&T Bank

The Human Factor

How can organizations effectively drive human-centered organizational transformation and catalyze business growth in an era of paramount digital advancement?

Prophet’s global research reveals the specific and most fundamental actions leaders must take to drive the human aspects of organizational transformation and to catalyze business growth in the Digital Age: “Digital evolution is never that smooth because organizations so often overlook the need to take a strategic approach to cultural change; otherwise, as it has been said, you get the culture you deserve.” Prophet’s global research found that strategy and technology alone aren’t enough to drive transformation.

Prophet’s findings bolster the fact that organizational culture and the employee experience have a vital part in shaping progress. As a result, the human factors in digital transformation have grown in prominence. No matter how digital they may be, all organizations are human: “Any digital initiative requires a combination of business knowledge, process knowledge, and tech knowledge. Because digital requires these people to work together, collaboration is happening across lines of business, not across clusters.”

Prophet also suggests that: “Even with a holistic approach, aligning new behaviors, new skills, and new processes also require new ways of making decisions. And this is – to put it plainly – extremely hard without a team devoted to addressing that challenge head-on. We believe a team must actively manage and align those efforts. Otherwise, there will be no change and no true transformation. And in our experience, this team cannot live within the rules of the existing organizational structure.”

While Prophet proposes a project-based Transformation Management Office (TMO), we’re suggesting a systemic approach: the appointment of a Grandmaster of Business™ (GoB); be it an officer or a GoB-headed office depends on the scale of the operation.

Obviously, we do support Prophet’s demand for a holistic approach toward cultural and business transformation, given our creation (2016-2020) of ROUNDMAP™ and the Grandmaster’s Playbook.

“Every successful organization has to make the transition from a world defined primarily by repetition to one primarily defined by change. This is the biggest transformation in the structure of how humans work together since the Agricultural Revolution.”

Tim O’Reilly, publisher, author and venture capitalist

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