16 June 2009 • 10:55 am

Consonance vs. Dissonance in the Change Agenda

(After two consecutive posts on the topic of the Strategy-Focused IT Organization, and two well-received posts on strategy map design, I return to one of my favorite themes: musing about organization behavior and its impact on strategy and change. Don’t like this topic? As the number of readers of the Tenacious Blog grows, I will rely ever more on your feedback to know which postings are most valuable to, so please share your comments and criticisms below every post that you read.)

One key benefit of having an outsider facilitate an organization’s change process is the outsider’s objective viewpoint. In preparing to facilitate a strategy development workshop, I insist on prior, separate, one-on-one interviews with each member of the leadership team charged with developing the strategy. My aim during these interviews is not to promote a particular change agenda, but to understand the extent to which the members of the team have identical, aligned, or divergent beliefs and values about the change agenda for the organization. In short, I look for consonance or dissonance (wonderful musical terms that apply here as well) in the strategic song of the leadership team. The understanding I gain is of vital importance when facilitating the team as a whole.


25 May 2009 • 11:19 am

Hygienic Strategy?

Much of my work with organizations has been influenced by two classic theories of human behavior and motivation. Many of my clients have been familiar with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, in which human needs are arranged like rungs on a ladder. According to Maslow, the most basic needs at the bottom of the ladder are physical, such as air, water, food, and sleep. Next are safety needs, followed by psychological, or social needs; for belonging, love, acceptance. Next are esteem needs; to feel achievement, status, responsibility, and reputation. At the top of it all are the self-actualizing needs; the need to fulfill oneself, to become all that one is capable of becoming. Maslow felt that unfulfilled needs lower on the ladder would inhibit the person from climbing to the next step. Published in 1943, Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation has been a remarkably durable set of ideas, given the advances in behavioral science in the decades since.


16 May 2009 • 11:21 am

Numbers, Perception, and Motivation

Reading a post on the excellent political blog, I was reminded that how we look at numbers really affects how we consider the rationale for a proposed change. Congress is currently considering legislation to provide consumers with vouchers of up to $4,500 to scrap their gas-guzzlers and replace them with more fuel-efficient cars.

Here was an excerpt of the proposal:

Light-Duty Trucks: The old vehicle must get 18 mpg or less. New light trucks or SUVs with mileage of at least 18 mpg are eligible for vouchers. If the mileage of the new truck or SUV is at least 2 mpg higher than the old truck, the voucher will be worth $3,500. If the mileage of the new truck or SUV is at least 5 mpg higher than the old truck, the voucher will be worth $4,500.

Wow. It sounds like a windfall for a very slight improvement in gas mileage. But it may be because we are looking at fuel efficiency backwards. Americans evaluate fuel efficiency different than how those do in most other parts of the world.