Why is it that the American economic recovery is moving so slowly and new job creation is low? PBS NewsHour Economics Correspondent Paul Solman takes a critical look at whether America is experiencing an innovation lull, as George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen claims in his new book, The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will(Eventually) Feel Better. Solman spoke with Cowen and to those who say he couldn’t be more wrong – that the nation is brimming with new innovations that will advance our quality of life.
Cowen claims we’ve picked all the ‘low-hanging fruit’ and that current innovations do not produce the same kind of new jobs, advancements and efficiencies in our everyday lives as, say, the washing machine or stove. “This is our central economic problem today,” he said.
Not so, counters MIT’s Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson and others, who insist that the advancements in innovation and technology are making big contributions to markets, businesses, and job functions. “If anything, the rate of change is not slowing down,” Brynjolfsson told Solman. “It’s increasing.”
The biggest problem with business, in a one-sentence capsule, is:
People exhibit misplaced priorities and impatience… seeking profit and power, possessing unrealistic views of purpose, and not fully willing to do the things necessary to sustain orderly growth and long-term success.
What organizations and individuals started out to become and what we’ve evolved into being are decidedly different things. The path toward progress takes many turns, expected and unexpected. How we evolve reflects the teachings, experiences and instincts which are not part of formal education.
Pressures continue and accelerate for companies to stay in operation, become competitive, keep ahead of the marketplace and perform quality work. Businesses of all sizes are besieged with opportunities, competing information sources and large amounts of uncertainty.
Executives are not fully prepared to handle challenges of the moment, much less to begin developing Big Picture thinking. Seasoned executives face burnout daily. Much of the workforce is in transition, with unclear anchoring of where they’ve been and where they could head. Young and mid-level workers do not really know what it takes to succeed long-term and are, for the most part, impaired from optimum achievement.
Failure to prepare for the future spells certain death for businesses and industries in which they function. The same analogies apply to personal lives. Greater business awareness and heightened self awareness are compatible and part of a holistic journey of growth.
I mentor business principals on all their options and the big ideas. I lay the groundwork so they can best utilize the niche consultants. I support all of the others and educate business owners on the best contexts to make consultants most effective.
There are seven levels of strategy retreats and processes in which companies can engage, with #1 being a starting point and #7 being the ultimate outcome:
- Information Sharing. What’s new in the marketplace. What the competition is doing. New ways of looking at the core business.
- Reacting to a Crisis or Emergency. Responding to crises is a good way to get in the research-planning habit. Preparing for crises helps avert 85% of them.
- Niche Review. Some phase of the business requires re-evaluation.
- Growth Strategies. How and where to grow. Concepts of orderly growth. Dynamics of growth, in relation to other organizational factors.
- Planning for the Future. Planning, vision and strategic direction account for 15% of an organization’s full picture…constituting the trunk and roots of The Business Tree™. The company that does not plan will not achieve staying power.
- Visioning. Determining what the organization will become.
- Change, Growth. Determine how the organization will get where it needs to go. Creative thinking about new approaches. Develop a true corporate culture.
7 Levels of What Companies Do with Think Tanks:
- Don’t understand the concept (confuse it with selling or training).
- Hold when the company is at a crossroads.
- Realize value and merit.
- Want to know and learn more. Eager to hold, assess and apply.
- Do something with it. Put findings to good use.
- Want to do more and evolve the business to higher plateaus.
- Change-Growth. Achieve advantages via knowledge. Make impacts on company future.
What Is a Think Tank:
- Source of new ideas from outside speaker-presenter (as opposed to a training facilitator).
- Common sense reminders of things people already know.
- Inspiration to try new things and be successful.
- Injecting Big Picture thinking into each part of the organization, macro over the micro.
- Inspires the development of organizational Vision.
- Realistic views or company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
- Study of external forces that can hamper your ability to do business.
- Mentorship and leadership development.
- Outside-the-box approaches to old problems.
- Creative learning that helps executives think new ways.
- Ways to understand the organization’s people (its best resource) better.
- Common sense updating of old principles, with Futuristic viewpoints.
- Puts the demands of the moment into perspective.
- Takes Futurism out of the esoteric and into cohesive applicability.
- Converts learning to knowledge…and knowledge to wisdom.
What a Think Tank is NOT… and Should Not Be Confused with Being:
- Training. Political fund raising.
- Sales or marketing support. Facilitated gripe session.
- Bean counter approaches to processes. Ivory Tower academic exercise.
- Internally conducted goal-setting workshop. Intellectual elitism.
- Brokering of ideologies and hidden agendas. Research.
This program will accomplish the following:
- Help small businesses of any size focus more clearly on their niche, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
- Apply Big Picture thinking toward all facets of the organization… to reduce costs of companies responding to problems with small-picture treatments.
- Reduce costly organizational problems with planning on the front end.
- Provide business owners with a totally different perspective on how they can operate and be more successful.
Visioning is the process where good ideas become something more. Visioning is a catalyst toward long-term evaluation, planning and implementation. Visioning is a jump-off point by which forward-thinking organizations ask: What will we look like in the future? What do we want to become? How will we evolve? Vision is a realistic picture of what is possible.
Organizations will succeed by having, communicating and garnering support for a Shared Vision. Visioning sets the stage for necessary processes, such as growth strategies, re-engineering, training, enhancing shareholder value and organizational development. Without visioning, other functions (marketing, human resources, financial, production, quality control, public relations, etc.) are simply performing band-aid surgery.
The Strategic Plan comes off the shelf and alive into action by being relative to all levels of the organization:
- Resource. Equipment, tools, materials, schedules.
- Skills-Tasks. Duties, activities, tasks, behaviors, attitudes, contracting, project fulfillment.
- Role-Job. Assignments, responsibilities, functions, relationships, accountability.
- Systems-Processes. Structure, hiring, control, work design, supervision, decisions.
- Strategy. Planning, tactics, organizational development.
- Culture-Mission. Values, customs, beliefs, goals, objectives, benchmarking.
- Philosophy. Organizational purpose, vision, quality of life, ethics, longterm growth.
Organizational and Business Planning
- Questions to ask the organization… basis for budgeting.
- Guidelines for re-examing the business position…criteria and benchmarks.
- The 10 most common benchmarking mistakes.
- Guidelines for conducting Strategic Planning.
- Steps, processes and methodologies encompassed in long-term Strategic Planning.
- Benefits of Strategic Planning.
- Big Picture Visioning issues and dynamics.
- How to make the process productive in the long-run.
About the Author
Hank Moore has advised 5,000+ client organizations worldwide (including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and non-profit organizations). He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoke at five Economic Summits. He guides companies through growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism and Big Picture issues which profoundly affect the business climate. He conducts company evaluations, creates the big ideas and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree™ is his trademarked approach to growing, strengthening and evolving business, while mastering change. To read Hank’s complete biography, click here.
Each and every day, Americans and millions of others throughout the world remember and honor all those whose sacrifice has secured for us the blessings of liberty. It is because of these individuals that we enjoy freedom of thought and self expression; the very foundation that makes StrategyDriven possible.
Today, we remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to secure for us, our children, and all future generations, the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The video below honors the memory of First Lieutenant Travis Manion, United States Marine Corps, and Lieutenant Brendan Looney, United States Navy, who were United States Naval Academy classmates, company mates, and roommates; becoming as close as brothers. One went to Iraq, the other to Afghanistan. Both were killed in action and have been laid to rest, side-by-side, in Arlington National Cemetery.
“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)
Founding Father of the United States of America
A long-time consultant is offended by something a new salesperson said on a conference call and is threatening to leave. And an employee in marketing is furious about being passed over for a promotion in favor of her coworker and is trying to discredit her. These are just a couple of examples of the workplace conflicts that take up 42 percent of the typical manager’s time. The trick to moving past these conflicts and on to increased productivity for everyone at your organization is knowing how to broach the topics in a way that leads to improved working relationships.
Disagreements, disputes, and honest differences are normal in any workplace. When these normal occurrences are treated as opportunities for exploring new ideas about projects, they can become catalysts for increased energy and productivity. Getting to that place starts with an honest discussion.
The following tips – excerpted from The Exchange – will teach you how to turn your next meeting with conflicting employees into a productive conversation.
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About the Authors
Steven P. Dinkin is president of NCRC. He received his law degree from George Washington University, where he taught a mediation clinic as an adjunct law professor. He has also taught mediation courses in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. For several years with the Center for Dispute Settlement in Washington, D.C., Steve served as an employment and workplace mediator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other federal agencies. In 2003, he moved to San Diego to lead NCRC. His experience managing a talented and opinionated staff has contributed to the realism of this book. To read Steven Dinkin’s complete biography, click here.
Barbara Filner was the director of training for NCRC from 1984-2010. She currently works as a consultant for NCRC. Barbara has a master’s degree in teaching from Indiana University and has worked as a teacher, a labor union official, and an analyst in local and state government. She has designed and conducted workshops on mediation and conflict resolution in the workplace in both the United States and Europe. She has lived in Pakistan, India, and Egypt, and thus brings a multicultural perspective to this book. She has also co-written two books about culture and conflict, Conflict Resolution Across Cultures and Mediation Across Cultures. To read Barbara Filner’s complete biography, click here.
Lisa Maxwell is currently the director of the training institute at NCRC. She has traveled all over the world as a trainer for NCRC for almost 20 years. Lisa has a master’s degree in education from San Diego State University and has developed curricula and taught courses at the high school and university levels. Mrs. Maxwell developed and is the lead trainer in The Exchange Training. Lisa has worked with businesses, with the military, and with nonprofit organizations on finding creative, effective ways to manage conflicts. To read Lisa Maxwell’s complete biography, click here.
To learn more about the NCRC, or to attend one of its upcoming training sessions, visit its Web site, www.ncrconline.com.