Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Considers the theory and practice of organizational change and organization development (O.D.). Discusses analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation of change programs. Covers the learning process, O.D. interventions, consultant skills, employee participation, monitoring success, reinforcement and ethical issues.
Training and Development
Overview Covers the steps in the training & management development process from needs assessment to training evaluation. Examines the role of training in strategic human resource planning and organizational career management.
Training and Performance Issues
Explores educational & training issues by conducting a needs assessment and performance audit. ODM Consultants will plan solutions to training problems, including various instructional designs and delivery formats, job aids, organizational communication strategies
Contact ODM Consultants to schedule your strategic initiative today!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaOrganization development is the process through which an organization develops the internal capacity to most efficiently and effectively provide its mission work and to sustain itself over the long term. This definition highlights the explicit connection between organizational development work and the achievement of organizational mission. This connection is the rationale for doing OD work. Organization development, according to Richard Beckhard, is defined as: a planned effort, organization-wide, managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health, through planned interventions in the organization's 'processes', using behavioural science knowledge.
There are also a number of methodologies specifically dedicated to Organization Development such as Peter Senge’s 5th Discipline and Arthur F. Carmazzi’s Directive Communication. These are a few of more popular approaches that have been developed into a system for specific outcomes such as the 5th Discipline’s “learning organization” or Directive Communication’s “Organizational culture enhancement”.
According to Warren Bennis, organization development (OD) is a complex strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of organizations so that they can better adapt to new technologies, markets, and challenges.
Warner Burke emphasizes that OD is not just "anything done to better an organization"; it is a particular kind of change process designed to bring about a particular kind of end result. OD involves organizational reflection, system improvement, planning, and self-analysis.
The term "Organization Development" is often used interchangeably with Organizational effectiveness, especially when used as the name of a department or a part of the Human Resources function within an organization.
Organization Development is a growing field that is responsive to many new approached including Positive Adult Development.
At the core of OD is the concept of an organization, defined as two or more people working together toward one or more shared goals. Development in this context is the notion that an organization may become more effective over time at achieving its goals.
"OD is a long range effort to improve organization's problem solving and renewal processes, particularly through more effective and collaborative management of organization culture-with specific emphasis on the culture of formal workteams-with the assistance of a change agent or catalyst and the use of the theory and technology of applied behavioral science including action research"
Kurt Lewin (1898 - 1947) is widely recognized as the founding father of OD, although he died before the concept became current in the mid-1950s. From Lewin came the ideas of group dynamics, and action research which underpin the basic OD process as well as providing its collaborative consultant/client ethos. Institutionally, Lewin founded the Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT, which moved to Michigan after his death. RCGD colleagues were among those who founded the National Training Laboratories (NTL), from which the T-group and group-based OD emerged. In the UK, working as close as was possible with Lewin and his colleagues, the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations was important in developing systems theories. Important too was the joint TIHR journal Human Relations, although nowadays the Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences is seen as the leading OD journal.
In recent years, serious questioning has emerged about the relevance of OD to managing change in modern organizations. The need for "reinventing" the field has become a topic that even some of its "founding fathers" are discussing critically. 
 Important figures
- Chris Argyris
- Richard Beckhard
- Arthur Carmazzi
- Kenneth Benne
- Robert R. Blake
- Leland Bradford
- W. Warner Burke
- Tom Cummings
- Fred Emery
- Charles Handy
- Elliott Jaques
- Kurt Lewin
- Rensis Likert
- Gordon Lippitt
- Ronald Lippitt
- Jane Mouton
- William J. Rothwell
- Edgar Schein
- Donald Schon
- Peter Senge
- Eric Trist
- Saul Eisen
 See also
- OD topics
- Action research
- Appreciative inquiry
- Chaos theory in organizational development
- Collaborative method
- Employee research
- Executive development
- Group process & Group development
- Knowledge Management
- Leadership development
- Managing change
- Organizational communication
- Organizational culture
- Organizational engineering
- Organizational learning
- Organizational performance
- Performance improvement
- Positive Adult Development
- Process improvement
- Social network
- Strategic planning
- Succession planning
- Systems intelligence
- Systems thinking
- Team building
- Value network
- Workplace democracy
- Workplace spirituality
- Workforce planning
- OD in context
- Change management
- Human resources
- Industrial and organizational psychology
- Training and development
- ^ Smith, 1998, p261. Training and Development in Australia
- ^ Bradford, D.L. & Burke, W.W.(eds), 2005, Reinventing Organization Development. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
IN ITS 33RD year, the New York City Orpheus Chamber
Orchestra dazzles still. The WOW! of a first time listener and
the polished accolades of international music critics—“One of
the great marvels of the musical world...”—confirm Orpheus’
Orpheus plays without a conductor, that nucleus of orchestral
music. There’s no podium, no one waving a baton, directing
musicians what beat to keep or sound to make. That there’s no
boss runs contrary to accepted “best” practice in the autocratic
music world and the corporate realm: somebody has to be in
charge; otherwise it’s anarchy, a cacophony going nowhere.
Orpheus’ contrarian approach consistently proves what leadership
theorists, as far back in time as Lao Tzu, the sixth century
B.C. Taoist, claim is possible: self management and high
Boss-lessness is hardly Orpheus’ reason for being. Their
main purpose is to make beautiful music, on their terms. It is how
Orpheus moves idea to product, how these musicians work
together toward a perfect performance, that offers much to the
business world, particularly to groupings of professionals who
want to keep their flat structures loosely knit with high energy,
participation and fresh, creative output.
Orpheus is not leaderless. They’re the first to tell you: “Every
piece of music requires leadership.” How Orpheus differs is that
the leader (the concert master, the chief of the process, for each
piece of music) and the follower roles are rotated frequently and
deliberately to keep perspectives and music fresh. About a third
of the orchestra regularly serves as concert masters. The concert
master and the first chairs of the musical sections make up what
is called a core, usually six musicians, with as many as four cores
for one concert.
Core players are responsible for the initial decisions
about the shape and character of the music. They are to identify
an orchestral “voice,” agreeing on the interpretation of the composer’s
score. It is in the core where the process of integration
first glimmers—where the best thinking of virtuoso musicians
blends into something more than one person could envision.
A core is Orpheus’ concession to efficiency—it takes less
The Invisible Leader
Lessons for Leaders
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
By John Lubans, Jr.
“That there’s no boss runs contrary to accepted ‘best’ practice in the autocratic music world and the
corporate realm: somebody has to be in charge; otherwise it’s anarchy, a cacophony going nowhere.”
time in sorting out and shaping the music than would the entire
orchestra. Prior to inventing the core, the full orchestra staged
marathon rehearsals far into the night that overburdened even
the most energetically democratic of the Orpheus troupe.
Were famed management theorist Mary Parker Follett living,
she would regard the core as a splendid example of what best
leadership is about, “Leader and followers are both following the
invisible leader—the common purpose.” This notion of leading
has “penetrated” the organization.
NOT PAINTING BY NUMBERS
There’s a tacit commitment in the core to speak truthfully, to
not settle for good enough. That commitment carries over to the
full rehearsal where musicians, besides those in a core, chime in
with precise commentary economically stated, with much fine
tuning of nuances and interpretations. (See sidebar.)
Following a composer’s score is not painting by the numbers.
At best, the composer’s score is an incomplete road map—
numerous turnings and interpretations are possible—light, dark,
tense, relaxed, dreamy, moody, exhilarated. Simone Young, a
conductor, defines conducting, “I am an advocate for the composer—
my place is to bring the will of the composer (in the most
honest way that I can interpret it) to the minds of the musicians
and on to the hearts of the audience.” Hence, conductors (and
Orpheus) are hailed as geniuses or reviled as “wannabes” based
on how well they interpret the composer’s intent.
Any musician who believes the interpretation is wanting can
stop the music to tell everyone what’s bugging them. Based on
my observing several rehearsals, about half of the players (different
in each rehearsal) actively engage in refining the piece
being rehearsed. “Say it, sing it, play it” is the catchphrase for the
communications skill set essential in an Orpheus rehearsal. The
side bar illustrates the several prevailing norms—tacit understandings
that give players permission to critique. All of these
norms apply to non-musical groups, e.g. “It’s OK to say I don’t
Orpheus’ high level of engagement, its aspiration to excellence
exacts a personal cost. These musicians study the entire
score, not just their instrument’s segments. They listen to recordings
of the entire piece and they practice individually most days.
For one player, gaining a 10% improvement in performance
means working 30 percent harder than in a conductor-led
rehearsal. Doing so takes sacrifice, and was, until recent years,
largely uncompensated. That sacrifice represents the necessary
involvement that leads to a better product. “At this level of participation,
we own the company,” says an Orphean.
DISPENSING WITH THE CONDUCTOR
“You must hate conductors” is an assumption some listeners
make about Orpheus. One year, the Orpheus marketing flier featured
a snapped baton—an icon of what this orchestra is not
about. Dispensing with the conductor, Orpheus confounds our
accepted ways of working, of following, of being led. How
Orpheus works questions the conventional definition of leader, to
envision and direct.
Yet, Orpheans will tell you: “We don’t hate conductors.”
What Orpheus does hate is abdicating personal responsibility.
These musicians want a say in their music. They want elbowroom,
just like anyone else, to make the decisions that influence
their work. And, they want their expert voices to be heard.
In fact, Orpheus is an unintended training ground for conductors, with
6 OD PRACTITIONER VOL. 38 NO. 2 2006
The Invisible Leader: Lessons for Leaders from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
An Orpheus rehearsal is a collaboration of experts; disagreement
happens within the bounds of mutual
respect. Two or more clashing views are explored and
merged, sometimes creating a superior third interpretation,
other times settling on the best of the two ideas.
All ideas get their turn, even bad ones. Strict time limits
keep the discussion economical.
It’s OK to say “I don’t know”:
▪ “I can’t figure it out, can you play it for me?”
If you don’t agree, say so, and explain your thoughts:
▪ “It needs more glue.”
▪ “We should do this a bit slower, some people are
not getting it.”
▪ “Winds, answer our (strings) gesture. Rather than
just being on time, answer our gesture.”
Above all else, keep a sense of humor:
▪ After a long discussion without agreement the
player bemusedly tells the group: “I have to play
it.” The group responds: “We have to listen to it.”
Keep asking until you really understand:
▪ “Is there any way to push up the tempo?” A wind
speaks up to the group, “Do you want an organ
sound or a chorale sound—what’s the style you
Criticize the music, not the player:
▪ “We’re trying to stay with you—points to ear—can’t
▪ “There’s too much of a ‘we’re in the forest’
▪ “Let it happen, don’t push it.”
OVERHEARD AT REHEARSAL:
two current players taking up the baton from time to time and
three emeriti conduct, one full time!
Further proof of Orpheus’ détente with the conducting kingdom
is that the recently formed Orpheus Artistic Advisory Council
features the maestro conductor, James Levine, of the Metropolitan
The contrast between a conductor led rehearsal and an
Orpheus rehearsal is immediate. Under the baton, communication
is almost always one way. One cellist says that the ready
give and take at Orpheus is never seen in a large orchestra. You
simply, “cannot comment like (that) to a symphony conductor.”
He adds, “The large orchestra is built around the notion that the
conductor’s authority is absolute. If he/she were ever to accept
advice or a suggestion from a member of the orchestra, it would
have to be done in private …. Any other scenario would suggest
A substitute viola player says the “difference between playing
with Orpheus and traditional conductors is that you are fully
engaged, not just following the leader.” If two people have different
ideas they try it both ways and then decide together how it
will be done in the end. “They really try it both ways without not
trying.” The honest discussion of an Orpheus rehearsal is
“riskier,” yet, for her, the viola player, all the “extra work and self
investment makes playing more fulfilling.”
“I learned more about conducting by watching you rehearse,
than I have in all my conducting classes.” That is what a Juilliard
School of Music conducting student had to say after sitting in on
an Orpheus rehearsal. While this student one day will be a conductor,
he now better understands there is a process for and
value in soliciting ideas from the players—the people doing the
work. And while that may sound obvious to most managers, it is
a lesson worth restating and practicing.
THE CONDUCTOR MODEL
Not everyone agrees that the Orpheus model of music making
is best. One critic prefers the conductor model: “A conductor
would make it better, but with a conductor it wouldn’t be
Orpheus.” Paradoxically stated, the critic seems to believe a
boss man would improve Orpheus’ sound. He is not alone in
what may be a genetic predisposition towards a pecking order, a
social Darwinism. Someone has to be in charge for things to
really work. For this same critic, Orpheus’ sound is not as refined
or precise as it could be because “of infinitesimal uncertainties
natural to pure democracies. Pinpoint agreement of pitch and
gesture is stretched to a kind of benign vagueness.”
And, some people just can’t trust the process—there has to
be a boss, and they are it! When the Teutonic chanteuse, Ute
Lemper, guested with Orpheus, “Ms. Lemper made sure no one
could miss any points, right down to the … orchestra, which she
kept conducting with her left arm.”
There are imperfections and limitations in the Orphean
model. At one rehearsal the timpanist never raised his head from
the soccer magazine he was reading and, similarly, one of the
horn players multi-tasked between the musical score and the
Daily News. More significantly, a former executive director told
me that at times Orpheus may choose to “not do things we don’t
like, like holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards
of musicianship or confronting players no longer performing well
enough.” For example, Orpheans still talk about the violinist who
turned into a tyrant whenever it was her turn as concert master.
Five or six years passed before she was finally confronted.
To everyone’s relief, she quit the organization
Of course, the hierarchy may not do much better in dealing
with those things we don’t like to do—it may, at times, do worse.
Orpheus recognizes that orchestras exceeding 40 or 50
musicians in size may be too complex for the Orpheus model: the
distances between seats among 120 players interrupt the
required intimacy and congest the sight lines.
So, while the Orpheus model will not fit all organizations or
situations, elements of Orpheus are relevant to most organizations.
Their ideas may be most applicable in keeping leadership
fresh in organizations of the right size with an unchanging repertoire.
Many nonprofits come to mind, including service agencies
and educational enterprises.
The Chairperson of the Orpheus Board of Directors, Connie
Steensma, testifies to Orpheus’ relevance to the business world.
She has been an avid fan, since 1987, of Orpheus. Initially, she
was drawn by the beauty of the music—“these are my rock
stars.” Then, in the early 90s, as the president of a consulting
firm, she was drawn to the ways in which Orpheus worked: the
sharing of leadership, the taking of individual responsibility, and
the literal movement of players to fit the musical sound.
It dawned on her that how Orpheus worked just might apply to the
business world. When faced with facilitating a merger of two corporate
Information Technology departments, she applied several
Orpheus inspired ideas. She rotated the IT leadership and mixed
levels of leaders and followers to the maximum advantage.
Because of the Orpheus influence and, importantly, the “consummate
professionalism of the IT staff involved”—and their
desire for success—the IT merger clicked.
OD PRACTITIONER VOL. 38 NO. 2 2006 7
Take turns leading, take turns following.
Encourage independent and articulate critical thinking.
Manage self, disagree agreeably.
Listen with all your heart.
Be responsible toward the organization.
Demonstrate a philosophy of work that values followers
ORPHEUS TAKE-AWAYS FOR THE NON-MUSICAL BOSS
All has not gone smoothly for Orpheus. Julian Fifer, the cellist-
founder of Orpheus, left in 1999. Since then there have been
three executive leaders. In 2002, after a series of financial and
leadership crises, Orpheus was on the brink of dissolution—the
music just about died. The classic elements of the founder’s syndrome
had sapped the players confidence
and left some traumatized by
uncertainty and ambiguity.
Connie Steensma, in her first term
as chair of the Orpheus Board of Directors,
guided Orpheus through the
refiner’s fire of that tumultuous 30th
year. Responding to the musicians’
pleas: “You have to save Orpheus,” she
applied her consulting knowledge, helping
the musicians not just get past the
immediate crisis but to decide what they
wanted to be.
The orchestra regrouped and concluded
it wanted to be a viable and continuing
institution. While their music
lingers in the hearts of the audience
after each concert, Orpheus believes its way of working—the
how—is a large part of their legacy. According to several musicians,
Orpheus now has “a view of the future… a common view.”
It is a shared vision that seeks to perpetuate Orpheus’ unique
music making and leadership.
An essential task, after their near-musical-death experience,
was to re-cast Orpheus’ administrative infrastructure to help the
organization achieve well-planned and managed development.
The musicians recalled how the dynamics changed not for the
best when the cellist founder stopped playing and became the
full time executive director. Nor did the two succeeding EDs play
in the orchestra. The next to last executive was seen by many
players, amid reports of shouting matches and bad feelings, as
more boss than colleague, someone who was imposing his will
on the business side and trespassing into musical decisionmaking.
The organization opted for a higher risk model, a return to its
roots, replacing the executive director position with a
player/leader akin to the managing partner idea in some law
firms. A long time Orpheus violinist was persuaded in 2002 to
lead the organization and to keep playing. To help him balance
the two roles, he negotiated for the business side of the organization
to be as professional as the artistic. On the business side
sits a general director, entrusted with
much of the day-to-day operations. He,
the player/leader and three elected senior
musician “coordinators” share in the
running of the organization with its
annual four million dollar budget.
Unpretentious and unassuming—
the player/leader dispensed with the
Executive Director title and converted
the former ED’s office into a meeting
room. He seems the perfect unboss
with his understated, thoughtful
approach; just what Orpheus needed.
Three years later, Orpheus is solvent
and spirits are high. New initiatives
include the Orpheus Institute at Juilliard,
a platform for broadcasting the
Orpheus approach to music. And, there’s a fascinating collaboration
with the Manhattan School of Music in which Orpheus
musicians coach the MSM student orchestra to play without a
There are now various initiatives to assure Orpheus’ longterm
stability and to lessen the financial stresses and anxieties to
which Orpheus (and most art groups in this country) often succumb.
An endowment would help. Orpheans will tell you that in
the not too distant past, “Our “endowment” was Mr. ____’s (a
Board member) American Express card!” This angel would annually
(and most generously) pluck the organization out of its red
ink. An endowment, of course, would steady Orpheus and lessen
the predictable administrative angst over a deficit.
Another plus is that the player/leader, the General Director,
the three Coordinators share willingly the load of running the
organization—a semi-permanent administrative version of an
Orpheus musical core.
It is Orpheus’ opening night at Carnegie Hall for the
2005/2006 season. Tonight they’re partnering with the legendary
pianist, Richard Goode, in performing pieces by Mozart and J. C.
Bach. As well, Orpheus has two solo pieces. One is Luigi Cherubini’s
1801 Overture to Faniska.
A 23-year-old newcomer to Orpheus is the concert master
for the Cherubini. Her musical ambition, harking back to the
mythical Orpheus, the orchestra’s namesake, is to “create even
just one magical moment for someone who is really listening.”
8 OD PRACTITIONER VOL. 38 NO. 2 2006
The Invisible Leader: Lessons for Leaders from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
JOHN LUBANS, Jr. MA writes about leading and following
in organizations. Recent studies include the ramp
agent teams at Southwest Airlines, Zabar’s food store in
NYC and the Duke Women’s Basketball team. As a Visiting
Professor, he teaches at the School of Library and
Information Sciences, North Carolina Central University.
He has a Master’s in Public Administration from the University
of Houston and a Master of Arts in Library Science
from the University of Michigan. You may e-mail him at
The next to last executive
was seen by many players,
amid reports of shouting
matches and bad feelings,
as more boss than colleague,
someone who was imposing
his will on the business side
and trespassing into musical
With an imperceptible gesture from her, the music starts quietly,
an awakening, a blending of gentle and strong, then, a gathering
of musical forces, stirring the audience. Heads lift and eyebrows
raise. Cherubini’s lyrical music soars to Carnegie’s heights, magically
permeates the hall’s golden light, and touches the listener’s
Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: HarperCollins.
Follett, M. P. (1996). The essentials of leadership with commentary
by Warren Bennis. P. Graham (Ed.) Prophet of management:
A celebration of writings from the 1920s, 163-181.
Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Kellerman, B. (2004). Bad leadership: What it is, how it happens,
and why it matters. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Kelley, R. E. (1988). In praise of followers. Harvard Business
Review, 66 (Nov.-Dec.), 142-48.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2003). The leadership challenge
(3rd ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Lubans, J. Jr. (2004). Leading from the middle. Library Administration
& Management, 18: 205-207.
Marshall, P. (1992). Taoism and Buddhism. P. Marshall, Demanding
the impossible: A history of anarchism 53-60. London:
Rehm, R. (1999). People in charge: Creating self managing
workplaces. Hawthorn House: 1 Lansdowne Lane, Stroud,
Gloucestershire, Great Britain: Hawthorn Press.
OD PRACTITIONER VOL. 38 NO. 2 2006 9
An invitation to write for the special
Positive Organization Development issue
of the ODPractitioner
The WINTER 2007 Issue will focus on research and practice methodologies that can be defined under the
general rubric of Positive Organization Development (POD) and Social Constructionism.
Articles need to examine positive approaches to OD associated with enabling, envisioning and generating
change in organizations through emphasizing theory and practices that represent the very best of the
We invite you to examine your consultations and identify those in which you used theories and
methodologies that argue social reality is developed in processes of social action. For example, the research on
corporate social responsibility, diversity in the workplace, future search strategies, pro-social behavior and
stewardship, and positive applications of complexity theory are examples of generative dynamics in
OD practices. Benchmarking, incentive systems and directed changes in organization culture are additional
examples of positive applications.
Appreciative Inquiry is one such process that can bring about change from a positive, social constructionist
perspective, however this Issue of the ODPractitioner seeks articles that demonstrate other positive processes.
The final deadline to submit articles for this POD Issue of the OD Practitioner is October 15, 2006;
earlier submissions would be appreciated. Please submit articles to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don D. Bushnell, Faculty Emeritus
Fielding Graduate Institute
Copyright © 2006 by the Organization Development Network, Inc. All rights reserved.
Monday, February 19, 2007
December 2005 Issue
Reprint # R0512E
Harvard Business Review
Leaders and followers both associate authenticity with sincerity, honesty, and integrity. It's the real thing--the attribute that uniquely defines great managers. But while the expression of a genuine self is necessary for great leadership, the concept of authenticity is often misunderstood, not least by leaders themselves.
They often assume that authenticity is an innate quality--that a person is either genuine or not. In fact, the authors say, authenticity is largely defined by what other people see in you. As such, you can to a great extent control it. In this article, the authors explore the qualities of authentic leadership. To illustrate their points, they recount the experiences of some of the authentic leaders they have known and studied, including the BBC's Greg Dyke, Nestle's Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, and Marks & Spencer's Jean Tomlin. Establishing your authenticity as a leader is a two-part challenge. You consistently have to match your words and deeds; otherwise, followers will never accept you as authentic.
To get people to follow you, though, you also have to get them to relate to you. This means presenting different faces to different audiences--a requirement that many people find hard to square with authenticity. But authenticity is not the product of manipulation. It accurately reflects aspects of the leader's inner self, so it can't be an act. Authentic leaders seem to know which personality traits they should reveal to whom, and when.
Highly attuned to their environments, authentic leaders rely on an intuition born of formative, sometimes harsh experiences to understand the expectations and concerns of the people they seek to influence. They retain their distinctiveness as individuals, yet they know how to win acceptance in strong corporate and social cultures and how to use elements of those cultures as a basis for radical change.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
July 2005 Issue Reprint # R0507P
Harvard Business Review
Abstract: Groups don't become teams just because that is what someone calls them. Nor do teamwork values alone ensure team performance. So what is a team? How can managers know when the team option makes sense, and what can they do to ensure team success? In this groundbreaking March 1993 article, authors Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith answer these questions and outline the discipline that defines a real team. The essence of a team is shared commitment. Without it, groups perform as individuals; with it, they become a powerful unit of collective performance.
The best teams invest a tremendous amount of time shaping a purpose that they can own. They also translate their purpose into specific performance goals. And members of successful teams pitch in and become accountable with and to their teammates. The fundamental distinction between teams and other forms of working groups turns on performance. A working group relies on the individual contributions of its members for collective performance. But a team strives for something greater than its members could achieve individually: An effective team is always worth more than the sum of its parts.
The authors identify three kinds of teams: those that recommend things--task forces or project groups; those that make or do things--manufacturing, operations, or marketing groups; and those that run things--groups that oversee some significant functional activity. For managers, the key is knowing where in the organization these teams should be encouraged. Managers who can foster team development in the right place at the right time prime their organizations for top performance.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Harvard Business Review
Abstract: Acquisitions and alliances are two pillars of growth strategy. But most businesses don't treat the two as alternative mechanisms for attaining goals. Consequently, companies take over firms they should have collaborated with, and vice versa, and make a mess of both acquisitions and alliances. It's easy to see why companies don't weigh the relative merits and demerits of acquisitions and alliances before choosing horses for courses. The two strategies differ in many ways: Acquisition deals are competitive, based on market prices, and risky; alliances are cooperative, negotiated, and not so risky.
Companies habitually deploy acquisitions to increase scale or cut costs and use partnerships to enter new markets, customer segments, and regions. Moreover, a company's initial experiences often turn into blinders. If the firm pulls off an alliance or two, it tends to enter into alliances even when circumstances demand acquisitions. Organizational barriers also stand in the way. In many companies, an M&A group, which reports to the finance head, handles acquisitions, whereas a separate business development unit looks after alliances.
The two teams work out of different locations, jealously guard turf and, in effect, prevent companies from comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the strategies. But companies could improve their results, the authors argue, if they compared the two strategies to determine which is best suited to the situation at hand. Firms, such as Cisco, that use acquisitions and alliances appropriately grow faster than rivals do.
The authors provide a framework to help organizations systematically decide between acquisition and alliance by analyzing three sets of factors: the resources and synergies they desire, the marketplace they compete in, and their competencies at collaborating.
Monday, January 22, 2007
BY STEPHANIE DUNLAP
Chances are you've never heard of Peter Block, but he almost certainly will become a key player in Cincinnati's future -- if he's asked.
Although not yet especially well known in his adopted hometown, Block is an internationally respected consultant on management. That job description hardly suffices, however. Some who have talked and worked with him call themselves Block's "disciples," and all of them call Cincinnati lucky.
"Cincinnati's very fortunate to have him," says Hawaii State Sen. Les Ihara. "We want him."
Ihara notes that planes fly from Cincinnati to Hawaii.
When Block first rented his Mount Adams apartment four years ago, he quickly learned that he hadn't moved to just any Midwestern city.
"I've never been to a place where people think you're crazy for moving there," Block says of Cincinnati.
The good news is he's staying. The question is whether the city will take advantage of it. What other communities count themselves blessed to secure for a day or two, what organizations pay him handsomely to do, Block offers to do in Cincinnati pro bono, indefinitely.
"I'm trying to figure out how to be useful in the community," he says. "I would show up by invitation."
Block built a company, Designed Learning, and his fame by helping organizations worldwide implement ideas of empowerment, service and accountability. His clients have included The New York Times, Chiquita and the Union Institute. For the past four years he's traveled to Northern Ireland with the Mastery Foundation to lead conferences on peace and reconciliation.
"He leads powerful conversations that engage and empower the participants to take responsibility for our own future," Ihara says.
His wildly popular books describe the ideas and the work: Flawless Consulting; The Empowered Manager; Stewardship, Freedom and Accountability at Work: Applying Philosophic Insight to the Real World, co-written with Peter Koestenbaum; and the latest, The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters. Each appears increasingly more philosophical and broader in scope.
Block now shifts his energy from organizations to public sector work with communities and associations.
"He clearly is the most innovative thinker about city governments and how they could be revived and transformed," says social scientist John McKnight, who frequently collaborates with Block.
Police Chief Mike Butler of Longmont, Colo., envies Cincinnati.
"He has a lot to offer," Butler says. "Cincinnati is very fortunate to have a person like Peter Block as one of its citizens."
A citizen is exactly what Block intends to be -- and that means more than residence. A citizen builds community by holding himself accountable for the well being of the larger institution of which he is a part, Block writes in "Citizenship and the Creation of Community." A citizen chooses to exercise power rather than deferring or delegating it to others. A citizen boldly gives form to the collective possibility of a hospitable community.
"What I don't want to do is start another association," Block says. "Most of my work is trying to change the way we come together."
If Cincinnati's leaders are interested in developing community experience on a different level, "the next phone call they make should be to Peter Block," Butler says.
'All the goals we need' Block thinks problems in a community measure our alienation and the lost experience of connection.
"Most people in this community, and most communities, have withdrawn from civic life, if they were ever engaged," he says.
The disconnection isn't for lack of trying. Perhaps it's in spite of trying; perhaps we try in the wrong ways.
Block says Cincinnati's adoption of the "strong mayor" system and passage of Issue 5, "making it easier to fire people," indicates a "power-oriented retribution-minded way" of thinking about change.
Much of Cincinnati's public debate emanates from the extremes, which personify and blame the opposition. There's no incentive to change vituperative dialogue because it creates job security: lifetime employment on the front lines. Then when things go wrong, we rush to find fault.
Block says he's never seen that approach make anything better.
"That conversation has no power in it," he says.
Accountability is a cornerstone of Block's philosophy on creating a healthy organization, community or life.
"Most of us are responsible for creating the institutions we're complaining about," he says.
Waiting for "them" to change only reinforces helplessness. When he runs across that attitude, he asks, "How's it going? How long you been complaining this way?"
Nor does Cincinnati suffer for lack of goals. The city has a huge list of goals, visions and commitments.
"We have all the goals we need," he says.
Block thinks that's part of the problem. Every time people hold a meeting, they feel the need to leave with an action plan.
"The idea we have to have a clearly defined goal is silly," he says.
Real answers for a strong urban center don't come from urban experts, he says. Most expert recommendations are never acted on, anyway, and the idea that more money will do the trick is naíve.
"More experts, better leaders, more investment and more effective programs I don't think will make a real difference," Block says. "They're useful, but they're not enough."
Rather, he believes they create passivity and disengagement because power is delegated to someone or something other than citizens, who then become mere consumers. Programs just create employees and recipients. The conversation falters, and community further atrophies.
"The reason people leave here is probably because they're lonely, not because they can't make a living," he says.
The emphasis has been misplaced. A gated community in West Chester won't create a safer community, he says. It's the citizens who make neighborhoods safe, control the traffic, educate children and decide how healthy they will become.
"Who's responsible for your health?" he says. "Your doctor? Or you?"
Block tells a story about Naperville, Ill., where residents of a neighborhood complained to the transportation department about unsafe traffic. They wanted stop signs, speed bumps and better enforcement. Then a study found that 70 percent of those speeding through the neighborhood lived there.
The police department challenged neighbors to call a meeting of residents. They settled on a "pace care program" in which everyone agreed to drive 25 miles per hour.
"Citizens were both the cause and the solution to what they were worried about," Block says.
Real change results from connection and relationship, not better leaders or new policies, he says. The challenge is to bring into a room people who aren't used to being together and engage them so they find the connection and common aspirations underneath the noise of negotiation. The goal is to get people to reclaim ownership of the power they've given, delegated or voted away.
Block says Cincinnati's advocacy groups and individuals such as the Rev. Damon Lynch III give activism a good name.
"There are 500 people in this town who see each other everywhere" -- and they're not the problem, he says.
"New Prospect Church does great work," Block says. "They need support. They don't need to be confronted or changed."
He sees a connection between his work in Northern Ireland and Cincinnati's collaborative agreement on racial profiling.
"Once they achieved peace, then the work began: the work of reconciliation, of community," he says.
'Pockets of vitality' Block recognizes pockets of vitality in Cincinnati -- Clifton, Northside, Price Hill, Gilbert Avenue -- with people on the streets. Hyde Park has "wealthy, rich life to it. Over-the-Rhine obviously has life to it."
It's the rest of Cincinnati he wants to engage.
"There's this other side of Cincinnati that has zero faith in itself," Block says.
He says the porch has moved to the back of the house, by design. The highway does literally what years of racial and economic wounding have done metaphorically: divided Cincinnati.
Yet the city can claim an incredible arts tradition. Its unparalleled architecture gives it great possibility, he says.
Block doesn't underestimate the power of art.
"Every patriarchal system realizes the arts have the power to undermine it," he says.
Architecture is of utmost importance because the physical space of a community or a meeting room influences the conversation.
"Modern buildings are built to signify the insignificance of the human spirit," he says.
They are physical expressions of our love of efficiency. Corporate offices display artwork only in the lobby and on the executive level. Conference rooms are designed for persuasion and display, not for conversation. Tile walls in hospitals and schools make cleaning easy but stymie healing and learning.
Patriarchal systems try to make the arts irrelevant because the power of art makes them nervous, Block says.
He also dismisses the desire to "save" or "fix" the city as a colonial instinct. He doesn't think it's up to those on the edge to fix the city's center. That's why it's so important to get the questions right first: We have to be careful whom our answers serve.
"Who are the players?" he says. "What's the conversation?"
Bringing life back into the city means more than repopulation. We must reduce suffering and realize that "we are our brothers' keepers."
Block insists that we must focus on people's gifts rather than their deficiencies, because paternalistic efforts to help people, well, don't.
"When is help helpful and when is it disabling?" he says.
John McKnight, Director of Community Studies at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, uses a medical term -- "iatrogenesis," or doctor-created disease -- to describe the phenomenon.
Twenty years ago, all professional ideas about how to help poor people or older inner-city neighborhoods were couched in the assumption that they were "needy," according to McKnight.
Discussing Cincinnati's future are (L-R) Cynthia Pinchback-Hines, Mary Sexton, Donna Covrett, Doug Pentz, Peter Block and Bab DeArmond.
"If you cared about these people, the way you started was defining their needs," he says.
Professionals identified the alcoholics, the drug addicts, the school dropouts, the buildings below housing codes. They decided what was wrong and then what they could do to fix the "needy" people and their places.
McKnight's research found that approach had an "iatrogenic effect" because it assumed that what was most important about people was their brokenness and, what's more, they couldn't do anything about it.
People started to believe they were the problem but not the solution. Local organizations, associations and churches were ignored because "they had nothing to do with the building of the community" undertaken by outside groups, government officials and other professionals. A culture of dependency developed.
McKnight's work, called "asset-based community development," focuses instead on the "skills, capacities and capabilities" of individuals. It identifies the unpaid associations, organizations and churches doing good things in the neighborhood and the local institutes whose resources and capacities could be reoriented to enhance the local community. He describes it as "identifying the full half of the glass."
Block saw the parallels between McKnight's work in neighborhoods and his own with large organizations. Instead of a top-down approach, they identify the greatest asset as the intelligence, creativity and values of workers and individuals. Block and McKnight drew heavily from each other and now team up for projects.
Block poses another question for Cincinnati residents: "What does it mean if you're afraid to go to your own downtown?"
He thinks it means we feel alienated from our own centers. He says we must rediscover them, because neither a person nor a collective can bear a hollow core and feel complete.
"What takes place in the culture is a projection of what is taking place in our own hearts," he wrote in The Answer to How Is Yes.
'The bullet's on the way' Questions about surviving, being successful, making a living and finding relationships that matter consumed the first part of his life, Block says. As he found answers, the questions shifted to, "Will it make any difference?" He quotes psychologist Carl Jung: "What's true in the morning is a lie in the afternoon."
Block realized that if he spent the second 20 or 30 years as he'd spent the first, he'd end up in a state of mild depression like most of the people he saw around him.
" 'What's the point?' becomes the question, rather than 'How do I do it?' " he says.
The question doesn't go away.
"I'm not sure I want it to anymore," he says. "The shift is to value the question when the world wants an answer."
He explores the issue in The Answer to How Is Yes.
"Good questions work on us, we don't work on them," Block wrote. "They are not a project to be completed but a doorway opening onto a greater depth of understanding, action that will take us into being more fully alive. ... Acting on what matters is, ultimately, a political stance, one whereby we declare we are accountable for the world around us and are willing to pursue what we define as important, independent of whether it is in demand, or has market value. ...
"The critical task is to find the right question, one that is open-ended enough to engage everyone personally and organizationally."
Block loves questions, which makes for an interesting interview.
"Who in this community needs to be engaged?" I ask.
"Exactly," he says.
"If you think the media is retributive, what can we do to shift that?" I ask.
"Exactly," he says.
The question in many cases is the answer, he says. There's no sound bite. Instead it's important to get the question right.
"Most of us are busy answering the wrong questions," he says.
Try these questions instead, he suggests: What did we do to help create this situation? What do we want to create together here? What's the conversation you've never had before? What's the commitment?
He especially likes this question: What is worth doing?
"As soon as you ask that, you go against the culture," Block says. "Most of us medicate ourselves with speed and efficiency, and technology is the drug of choice."
Cell phones illustrate his point.
"I still have nothing to say, but now I can call you anytime," he says.
Block believes there's been something counter-cultural in his bloodstream for a long time.
"There's a kind of madness there," he says.
The madness lies partly in his determination that ideas matter and the act of thinking is doing something, even when the rest of the world demands evidence.
"Why don't you get busy?" people tell thinkers.
In spite of a devotion to questions, mysterious insights pepper his conversation: If you want to change the culture, change the conversation. Most of what we do is run away from freedom. When you're drowning, dive. Going fast won't help. How do we go deeper? Life is paradoxical. For every great idea, the opposite idea is also true.
Block probably talks a little like the philosopher he regards as his mentor. He was 40 when he heard Peter Koestenbaum speak about loneliness, freedom, purpose and meaning. He'd never taken the words seriously, he says.
He became a client of Koestenbaum's clinical philosophy. Under his tutelage Block came to see death, guilt and anxiety as good things.
"Guilt means you said no," he says. "Anxiety means you're paying attention. Death gives purpose to life."
Block doesn't pontificate. He comes off as a modest man who's been interesting places on his journey and has places yet to go.
"Everything I talk about, I get from somewhere. Very little is invented ... I don't even know what the hell I'm talking about," he says.
"Implied in all of this is the idea that engagement is the design tool of choice; it is how social and cultural change happens," he wrote in The Answer to How Is Yes. "For complex challenges, especially when we create a system that goes against the default culture, dialogue itself is part of the solution. We need to believe that conversation is an action step."
'Feminine use of power' Block's challenge is to apply his stream of ideas to civic work. He says some people tell him his way of thinking isn't practical.
He sees the wish to get practical as a loss of idealism in a "show me the money" culture. If we don't change our thinking about how to be practical, we'll re-create the past, he says.
He believes strongly that conversations voice real possibilities in community, that engagement and relationship lead to an agenda.
"Practical things do grow out of this way of thinking," he says. "The whole idea is to engage people in deciding for themselves what they want to create."
Harley-Davidson reinvented itself in the 1980s using these ideas, he says. A similar shift in thinking has led 300 U.S. cities to offer alternatives to the retributive criminal justice system through restorative justice, which emphasizes the ways crime harms relationships in the context of community.
One such city is Longmont, Colo., whose police chief knows the transformative effect Block's ideas have on a community. Mike Butler took 30 employees to hear Block speak in Denver. Since then Block has traveled to Longmont three or four times to work with the community, citywide organizations and the police. He helped shape "Our Town Conferences," on the premise that the more people know what's going on in their community, the more involved they'll get.
Restorative justice takes into account victims and community; its paradigm considers crimes to be committed against persons, not the state. In that vein, offenders must sit in circular conference with the victim, family, support group and community.
Circles indicate "a feminine use of power based on relationship, dialogue, engagement, feeling, intuition, a knowing you can't pin down," he says.
That's what makes the conferences so effective.
"People who commit crimes very often don't have a larger sense of accountability to community," Butler says.
Restorative justice tailors sentencing to create meaning and purpose for offenders; someone who breaks a bottle over another's head must work with a head injury unit, for example. It's not suitable for offenders in homicide, sexual assault or child molestation cases, but they comprise only a small percentage of crimes, according to Butler.
Restorative justice works. Of the 500 offenders who have gone through the system in Longmont, only 5 percent have subsequent run-ins with police. Ninety-five percent of victims report that they are "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the process.
Butler says he and Block are considering collaborating to form a center or institute around restorative justice.
This year Block also helped City Manager Ray Patchett of Carlsbad, Calif., develop a conference called "Connecting Community Place and Spirit" to discuss the design of a planned civic center.
First, as always, they shaped the question: "What is a civic center? Is it a place where bureaucrats hang out or where citizens convene?" Patchett says.
Carlsbad's citizens decided a civic center should be a space for connecting and for reinforcing ideas, so they designed a structure to make conversations happen. Offices occupy only part of the building; there are also indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, an "outdoor living room" and amphitheater, Patchett says. They plan to create a web of public facilities by building trails between the civic center, other neighborhoods and the community's eight parks.
The conference and the "engagement teams" formed in response also set in place a community architecture that allows citizens to convene quickly around any issues that arise.
"I bet if we sent out invitations today, we could have 150 people in a room next week," Patchett says.
In Hawaii, Block's ideas led state leaders to focus on fostering "kitchen table conversations," State Sen. Ihara says.
The idea is to engage citizens in conversation about things that matter to them, in ways that don't create frustration and cynicism but instead encourage participation and a sense of responsibility. That leads to action, he says.
"Basically he asks a lot of powerful questions" in an engaging, safe and honoring way, Ihara says.
Jeffrey Stec saw Block speak at the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and asked him to facilitate the Sept. 10 meeting of the Urbanists (see "Fixing the City," issue of Dec. 5-11, 2002). Meeting later with Block solidified his belief in the ideas, Stec says.
"We'd agree with him," he says. "We'd get so excited and then we'd have an answer."
He says Block told him, "You just disengaged. You don't need an answer. When you have an answer, it's paternalistic."
Like personal renewal, urban renewal requires asking the right questions, according to Block.
"He's a Zen guy" who believes that when people are engaged an agenda magically follows, Stec says.
"Maybe there are elements of magic," Block says. "There is a spiritual dimension to the work. There is something to be done that can't be expressed in practical terms."
That's why the faith community must be in the room, he says.
"They just get that," he says.
He balks at questions about his own spirituality, though. People often accuse him of being New Age.
"I don't identify with that, even if it's true," he says. "I'm a Jew. You're a Jew, you're always a Jew."
Labeling people discounts them, he says.
"We call kids 'youth at risk' as if there's something wrong with them," he says.
As for "homeless people," Block says community is built not by focusing on what's missing in people but by bringing their gifts into the center.
He also challenges the "creative class" moniker.
"Who's not creative?" he says.
He considers the creative class concept an effort to be hopeful but thinks assigning people to a class is useful mostly to advertisers. His own two daughters belong to "Gen X." He suspects they were labeled that because marketers couldn't identify a buying power.
During the Urbanists meeting, Block says, he will engage people with each other through a series of powerful questions and design an experience to give participants a taste of what more powerful engagement looks like. He will act as what he calls a "social architect."
"The social architect then becomes an engagement manager," he wrote in The Answer to How Is Yes. "They help to decide who should be in the room at various stages and what questions they should confront, and all while keeping to the ground rule that the questions of intent and purpose precede the questions of methodology."
'Too safe a life' At one time Block was on his way from the University of Kansas to a job as a systems analyst for IBM, which told him he was hired partly because he's tall and has a good handshake.
Then a professor stopped him in the hall and asked, "What are you going to do?"
The question started Block thinking.
The professor suggested the field of organizational development. Block, who had never traveled east of the Mississippi, enrolled in Yale's graduate program.
Later, he accepted a job with Exxon because "they seemed big and safe." He stayed there five years. He liked the job.
"These big companies, it's easy," he says. "Nobody's accountable for anything. They're rich, they're very bureaucratic and they pay well."
He says he was too ambitious to stay put. He began running sensitivity and relationship-focused training groups. He soon expanded his client base and his focus to include organizational changes, mediating conflict and helping organizations talk more authentically.
"Most organizations are broken in their capacity to have honest conversations with each other," Block says.
Reading Timothy Gallwey's The Inner Game of Tennis taught him the difference between teaching and learning. It led him to develop his idea of engagement.
Block says he's always been drawn to mentors. He can name at least one for each book he's written.
Block speaks evenly, softly. His tall frame folds gracefully into a chair in his colorful living room. There's a foosball table two feet from his desk. Original artwork, including his brother's photography, hangs on walls, sits on mantles, decorates the bathroom, stacks neatly in hallways. Crudely lettered panels of rough wood rest in one nook, resembling either Basquiat or trash. The walls of two rooms are warm shades of red. Every element seems carefully selected, lively.
"Bidden or not bidden, God is present," says a plaque in the kitchen.
"Mostly I cook," Block says. He buys ingredients at Findlay Market and Avril's Meat Store.
He goes to local restaurants such as Pigall's downtown, Ambar India on Ludlow Avenue and Teak Thai Cuisine and Bar in Mount Adams. He likes Nicola's Ristorante on Sycamore Street because its owners saved the old building.
He watches movies at the Esquire. He'd go anywhere to see the local band the Modulators; he first saw them perform at this year's Last Chance Prom in Northside, a fuschia-tie affair for those who don't take themselves too seriously.
Block runs, often to the YMCA where he works out.
"Whenever I want to punish myself, I go run on a treadmill," he says.
Running clears his thoughts like waking in the middle of the night, which he seems to do often.
"I think everybody should wake up from 2:30 to 4:45," he says.
Lie awake at least an hour.
"If you're not, you're living too safe a life," he says.
He's learned much from years of Gestalt and Jungian therapy.
"Facing the shadows reduces their power," he says.
Two balconies with distinctive Mount Adams skyline views have kept him in that neighborhood until now, but he doesn't feel connected there. He talks of buying a downtown building and luring a New Jersey friend to open a restaurant on the first floor so he could live in the loft above and have a table waiting anytime.
He misses the Northeast coast. But he came to Cincinnati to be near a loved one, and he seems determined to become a citizen of the city he's chosen.
He asks no less from a young reporter. He challenges me to form a support network for my peers, to give feedback to corporations about what will keep us in Cincinnati.
"Make this a place where your friends will stay," he says. "I'll help you."
PETER BLOCK is the guest speaker at the next Urbanists' meeting at 6-8 p.m. Sept. 10 at Guilford Institute, 421 E. Fourth St., Downtown.