Surveying Your Employees about Your Strategy

Involve a larger part of the organization in a discussion on how the company is doing on strategy and execution. Like the annual employee survey, organizations should take the pulse around the most important strategic topics. Such a survey provides powerful insights about how well your employees — the people who know the company best — think it is positioned for success, how well they … [ Read more ]

Assess Your Organization’s Bureaucracy Mass Index (BMI)

An excess of bureaucracy costs the U.S. economy more than $3 trillion in lost economic output per year. When you look at all 32 countries in the OECD, the cost of excess bureaucracy rises to nearly $9 trillion. To dismantle bureaucracy, the first step is to be honest about how much it’s costing your organization. These costs fall into seven categories:

  1. Bloat: too many managers,

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Have Teams Complete a Charter Before Starting a Project

It’s perilously easy for corporate innovators to skate past the why and the how, particularly those working in new-growth groups or incubators. One mechanism some companies use to deal with this problem is to have each team complete a charter before it starts to work, detailing the project’s strategic intent (the why), specific goals (the how), strategic options that are on and off the table, … [ Read more ]

Clawing Your Way Back from a Discount

Retailers typically follow one of two approaches on price promotions: They’ll discount that PDA to $349 for awhile and then bump it all the way back up to its regular price of $499, or they’ll tout their “everyday low prices” and leave it at $449 indefinitely. But a third tactic beats both, new research indicates.

A store can generate more revenue after a $349 promotion by … [ Read more ]

What Anonymous Feedback Will (and Won’t) Tell You

A survey evaluating a team’s performance can be a powerful tool for making that team more effective. And the first message that consultants and HR professionals often communicate on these surveys is: “To ensure that the team gets the best data and feels protected, we will make sure responses are confidential.” The widespread assumption is that if team members know their answers are confidential, they … [ Read more ]

Lunch Roulette

Breaking down functional silos is key to everything from encouraging communication to building valuable connections to sparking innovation. But, as we all know, bridging interdepartmental chasms is far easier said than done. Fortunately, some companies are starting to come up with creative solutions. Take, for example, Lunch Roulette, a new concept being used at the U.S. arm of pharmaceuticals manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim (BIPI).

Like many good … [ Read more ]

Safeguarding Knowledge

Retirement represents the loss of a worker with the skills needed to perform a specific job. It may also represent the loss of crucial knowledge whose value to the organization extends far beyond the worker’s individual position.

Freightliner, a large truck manufacturer based in Portland, Oregon, has anticipated this dual risk. It set about assessing the extent and severity of the risk, focusing on employees who … [ Read more ]

Making Onboarding Work

When bringing a new employee onto your team, the experience of current employees can be extremely valuable, particularly those who themselves were recently the new kid on the block. Ask your current employees what they wish they had known sooner. Brainstorm a list of buzzwords and acronyms. And ask current employees what their plans are to help the newcomer get on board and up to … [ Read more ]

The 24 Hour Rule

Ford has put a rule in place. It says: ‘You have 24 hours to take a new and emerging issue, try to understand it and see if you can resolve it yourself. After that, you have to go public with it.’ It’s an escalation process. Because with a lot of these issues, we can solve them pretty quickly by applying the intellect we have in … [ Read more ]

Find the Smartest People in Your Organization

How do you find the smartest people in an organization? As we all know, intelligence does not always correspond to current job title. And in an technology company such as Novell, the real brilliant guys and gals are engineers hidden many layers below the top.

Here’s how Eric Schmidt found them, as he told Harvard Business Review in 2001.

“I used a kind of algorithm to locate … [ Read more ]

Improving the Company by Doing Less

Instead of asking employees to suggest new initiatives to improve the company, why not turn the question around? Ask employees for ideas about what to terminate. Employees often respond with a slew of good suggestions. …Regularly ask yourself, your managers, and the whole company: “Which of our current activities would we start now if they weren’t already under way?” Then eliminate all the others.

Doughnuts and BlackBerrys

Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the ubiquitous BlackBerry, is one company that takes great pains to signal its distance from the shareholder value principle. Back in 1997, just after the firm’s IPO, the founders made a rule that any manager who talked about the share price at work had to buy a doughnut for every person in the company. Early infractions were not terribly … [ Read more ]

Advancing innovation with a “Mutual Fun” market

Jim Lavoie, CEO of the technology firm Rite-Solutions, built something called a “Mutual Fun” market within the company’s intranet that has three indices employees can invest in—Savings Bonds for ideas on saving costs, Bow Jones for ideas on extending existing products, and Spazdaq for new product concepts. Any Rite-Solutions employee can suggest a new idea in any of these markets. Workers can also view the … [ Read more ]