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The concept of shared services has garnered a lot of attention recently by appearing in executive orders, mandates, and legislation issued by the current and previous administrations. However, this idea still causes apprehension throughout the government, and concerns about the impact of shared services on effectiveness persist across government agencies. Although the transition to the shared-services model isn’t without its challenges, it provides a worthwhile return on investment to both the government and to American taxpayers.

At The Clearing, we believe that this model is capable of actually increasing both efficiency and effectiveness of participating agencies, and we are actively supporting efforts to expand the impact of shared services within government. To help bridge the gap, we took a closer look at some of the pervasive myths that continue to impede the progress of shared-services initiatives, to contrast them with the realities that make this model worth implementing:

Myth: Shared services equals centralization
Reality: Shared services partnerships empower providers and customers

Shared services is not the centralization of functions into one component. While the focus for centralization is generally on cutting cost and shoring up control, shared services places significant emphasis on partnerships, as not all elements of a particular service will necessarily shift to a shared-services delivery model. The shared-services operating model is focused on partnerships between the shared-services providers and their customers, where the key performance targets are excellent service delivery and continuous improvement. Shared-service partnership agreements create platforms for innovation and savings and the opportunity to improve staff utilization for organizations leveraging this operating model.

Myth: Sharing services results in unique needs being ignored and unaddressed
Reality: A shared-services model flexibly balances efficiency and scalability

Shared services is not a “one-size-fits-all” model. No one configuration can achieve efficiencies and effectiveness without some degree of flexibility regarding the uniqueness of partner organizations. Instead, the shared-services provider model seeks to be a long-term solution for the delivery of non-core, and administrative/professional customer-centric activities. The goal of shared services is to balance the need for standardization and process efficiency with the desire for optimal flexibility and scalability of service.

Myth: Shared services means service satisfaction will decline
Reality: Partnership agreements drive service satisfaction

While shared-services customers play an important role in helping to clearly outline their needs in the form of service-level agreements, shared-services providers are committed to meeting–and whenever possible–exceeding those requirements as part of the formal and social contract to provide exceptional service delivery. To effectively implement a model that meets the expectations of all parties, it is essential for both parties to agree upon requirements, terms, conditions and recourse for non-performance. Even more importantly, both parties must agree to function as partners prior to the launch of the shared-service delivery model. Agreeing upon these key requirements in advance drives transparency and collaboration, that ultimately results in happier customers.

Myth: Shared services results in unhappy employees
Reality: Sharing services provides an opportunity to better leverage talent

When organizations lose their “down the hall” access to in-house support capabilities, the disruption to routine can feel daunting. However, when organizations are at a place where they can philosophically commit to the shifting of administrative tasks away from their core staff, they can expect to more fully leverage their staff’s talents and resources to directly support mission delivery—often the very tasks that these staff were originally hired and trained to perform.

The directives to reform the way that government organizations function, in addition to the operational pressures to sustain mission—all in the face of declining financial resources—are clear calls to integrate shared-services operating models within government agencies. These initiatives are part of the solution to gain greater reliability of outcomes and ultimately, greater cost efficiency. Agencies can resolve their concerns by working directly and collaboratively with shared-service providers to ensure the providers understand their most critical needs. When implemented properly, the shared-service model empowers agencies to focus their constrained resources on their core mission.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Shared Services can drive efficiencies at your organization, contact us to continue the conversation.

The post Four Shared Services Myths Impacting Government Efficiency appeared first on The Clearing.

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Last month, I participated on a workplace conference panel to discuss change management and workplace transformation. At The Clearing, we believe change management is a necessary component of successfully undergoing workplace initiatives, but at the conference it became apparent that this is still a relatively new concept.

“Wait, this is a service?” and “How does that work?” were questions that needed to be discussed before my fellow panelists and I could get into the specifics. Reflecting on the experience, I realized that despite how essential I believe effective change management is to organizational culture during a workplace transformation, it’s a topic that still needs a fair amount of awareness brought to it.

So let’s back up a bit: it will come as no surprise that change, in general, is hard. Most human beings do not care for it; more often than not, we fear and resist it. Whether approaching a new strategy, implementing new technology resources, or undergoing an office move or renovation, many strategic approaches do not consider human behavior as the key element to a successful organizational transformation. A workplace change can encompass something as small as ordering new furniture, to something as significant as a complete relocation. And lately, a much-discussed topic is the increasing trend of moving from a closed office environment to one that is more open and collaborative.

Workplace change isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s shifting the behaviors that you tolerate and don’t tolerate; it impacts your entire culture – what your employees live and breathe every day. Project planners have timelines, architects have drawings, designers have fixtures, financiers have the budget, but who owns the social complexity of collectively bringing your employees with you along the way? This is where workplace change management comes into play.

My firm has a team of workplace experts. These folks work alongside the organization contemplating or in process of a workplace change, project planners, designers, and architects to set the organization up for success by enrolling the workforce into the effort through workplace expertise and project management efforts. “Why put such a focus in enrolling the staff?” you may ask. In our experience, without intentional communication and change management, there is high risk that the change might create an emotionally tense atmosphere for the workforce leading to a negative culture, resistance, unproductivity, and turnover. The most successful workplace transformations create highly adaptive environments suitable for an organization’s current functions, while being flexible for growth and allowing for learning and collaboration.

We approach change management for organizations by asking critical questions about the current state of their workplace, with a focus on four key categories: space, people, technology, and process. Simple questions like “What’s working?”, “What’s not working?”, and “What resources and tools could enable an even better workplace?” lay the foundation for each category. From there, we can begin working to develop the organization’s desired future state. Senior leadership has a key role to play in determining this vision for the transformation and creating a case for change to gain buy-in from their teams. Sometimes the hardest question isn’t “How are we going to achieve success?” but “What happens if we don’t make this change?” By engaging all levels of the workforce, the results are most effective as the organization as a whole yields significant returns with respect to morale, retention, and innovation.

Here’s the how: the actual implementation lies in the middle of those four key categories. Through change management, communications, and training, the project can move forward toward its vision. Change management drives the culture shift to adopt new behaviors while minimizing disruption through engagement efforts. Regular communication keeps everyone informed at an appropriate level throughout the lifecycle of the project. Training and outfitting efforts accustom employees to the new ways of working ahead of time, making the shift easier when it’s time to settle into the new space.

The approach we take acknowledges reality—your employees are extremely busy and have no extra time for concern about their physical space and any changes that may be made to how they do their work—while also recognizing that to maintain efficiency, the organization collectively needs to adapt to these new ways of working now. To learn more about how we can help enroll your workforce in workplace transformation, please reach out to me.

The post The Future of Workplace Transformation Relies on Employee Engagement appeared first on The Clearing.

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My father has often reminded me that I, “cannot change the past, so just move on.” In principle, I agree… and yet, the past can have a real grip on me, and on the leaders I have the privilege of working with across the country. This is visible when team members feel compelled to recount mistakes made in the past and the impact of those mistakes on an organization, client or community.

These experiences and memories are valid and real, but they can also obstruct a group’s ability to move forward. In keeping with my father’s wisdom, you can’t change the past–but on the other hand, I’ve found it’s important to respect collective previous experiences while still keeping focus on the ultimate goal at hand.

I recently sat with a group who were in the earliest stages of moving forward with a large system implementation that would impact their core business strategy and how they deliver value to their clients and customers. They were simultaneously ready to move forward with the change and acknowledged its importance, but could not stop referring back to the last time they did a similar project.

A technique that works to unlock the past’s grip on an individual or a group involves not shutting down discussion about how teams have experienced fails in the past or unmet expectations, but to instead place those fails in the center of the dialogue. Thought leader David Gray refers to this concept as a “pre-mortem”.

Ask the group: “What would it take to really screw this up?”

Invite participants to generate a no-holds-barred list of specific behaviors, actions, and decisions required to negatively impact the project or initiative at hand. These ideas can be generated by sitting staunchly in the past and talking about all the things done wrong before. They can be pulled from the underbelly or shadow side of an organization’s culture. They can highlight the perceived weaknesses of flat sides of the leadership team charged with designing and executing on a large project–or all of the above.

The generation of this list will result in the surfacing of ghosts, secrets, and ideas that may feel unspeakable. If left unshared, these ideas will carry a negative charge into future discussions and key moments when the group will need its full leadership power to solve the inevitable problems that arise in organization-wide changes.

So, it’s important to first explicitly and openly name both these realities in addition to the collective perceptions of the group. From there, the data available in this list can be grouped into likelihood of repeating, ability to control, and the significance of impact, among other categories.

Suddenly, the collective group has the space to bring history and past experience into the present, in a way that enables them to close the gap between their current state and the future they desire. It may seem counterintuitive, but you might be surprised at how openly discussing your fears of failure can band your team together to accomplish their goals. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.

The post How to Turn Failure into an Asset appeared first on The Clearing.

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What is IT Modernization, or IT Mod? Why are government agencies and other organizations investing so much time and energy into it? How do I get started on IT Mod efforts?

These are just some of the questions we hear from leaders embarking on the journey to update their outdated legacy business software and systems. Over the next few months we will start to shed light on answers to these questions by interviewing former and current tech leaders that have experience undergoing IT Mod transformations.

We’ll ask our interviewees to reflect on their successes and failures as well as the valuable and sometimes personal lessons they learned in the attempt to modernize and share advice that can be directly implemented in your organization. Along the way we’ll work with industry vets to address specialized topics relating to IT Mod, such as the tension between Buy vs. Build and Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) packages.

The insights that emerge are not meant to imply there is a one-size-fits-all approach. Every organization, its people, and technological needs will vary greatly. Instead, we will share ideas on how to lead during IT Mod—or any kind of organization-wide change—by highlighting the successful tactics of industry and government leaders and common pitfalls to avoid.

Even those not directly in charge of these initiatives for their organization can learn how to ride the waves of change and be a more effective team member.

What is IT Modernization and Why Does It Matter?

Before we jump into the good stuff—the stories of leaders on the front lines—we wanted to level set on what IT Mod entails.

First, let’s address the concept of modernization in this context. For organizations, modernization is not a one-time event, but a continuous evolution to remain positioned for the future. Given the exponential change in technology being experienced today, it is critical for organizations to embrace and invest in modernization.

This means that the concept of IT Mod can be defined as the advancement of an organization’s existing applications and software with the purpose of aligning them more closely with current and future business and customer needs. Modernization usually occurs when the existing infrastructure or “legacy systems” at the front of daily business operations are outdated, presenting security issues or unmet business and customer needs. Technology is evolving more rapidly than ever before, and we no longer live in a tech environment where software can be bought or built and used for decades to come. We’re in a new state where modernization requires constant and continuous updates.

IT Modernization is an enormous financial, organizational, and cultural commitment, but there is also a strong business case for it. In particular, legacy systems are costly to maintain, and these costs continue to rise. Outdated legacy systems are especially common in large government agencies, with limited budgets that are usually spent on upkeep.

In 2017, Federal IT expenditures on simply operating and maintaining (O&M) current systems cost the American taxpayer an estimated $38.1 billion (find a further breakdown of IT spending on the federal government’s IT Dashboard). From FY 2015 to FY 2018, government IT departments spent 70% of this O&M budget on legacy systems. So, while IT Mod often has a large upfront cost, the long-term benefits can reduce the amount spent on operating and maintenance costs. Other benefits include:

• Increased cybersecurity
• More reliable systems
• Happier and more efficient users and customers
• Strengthened competitive advantage in the marketplace
• Enhanced facilitation of long-term organizational growth

It is important to note that IT Mod projects can be risky if poorly managed. According to a McKinsey & Company survey, 17% of IT Mod efforts can turn into a “black swan” for a company, meaning they become so costly that it threatens the company’s existence. And in general, large IT Mod projects with a budget of $15 million or more run 45% over budget, 7% over time, and cost billions of dollars in various overrun costs. The longer a project is scheduled to last, the more likely it will run over budget and time, which is why many organizations now deploy an Agile approach to software development. We’ll discuss this methodology in more detail later in the series.

Current IT Modernization Efforts

Clearly, IT Mod is a high-risk, high-reward undertaking. However, there has been an outstanding need for organizations to modernize their tech which can no longer be ignored. IT Mod has been a focus of the executive branch since the era of the Clinton administration. And with the Trump administration’s Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act in December 2017, the energy and support surrounding IT Mod has increased even more. The MGT Act sets up Centers of Excellence which help federal agencies through modernization and allow these agencies to repurpose unused IT budgets to fund projects. Agencies can also apply for funds from the Technology Modernization Fund. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are directed to focus on high priority efforts, which are outlined in this White House Report and include transitioning to the cloud, implementing shared services, and improving cyber defense.

Still, some federal employees think these priorities don’t go far enough. In a recent interview, David Powner, Director of IT Management Issues at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, stated that,

“The nation’s most mission critical legacy systems that are costly to maintain and post significant cyber risks due to unsupported software need to be replaced with modern, secure technologies and ultimately decommissioned… The administration’s recent modernization strategy was solid on network modernization, shared services and cyber, but light on tackling these most challenging modernization efforts.”

IT Mod is also front and center in the annual President’s Management Agenda. With this development, and funding finally appropriated for the Technology Modernization Fund, it’s clear this administration sees this as something that must be addressed here and now.

First up on the docket is the modernization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s systems. This effort just kicked off Phase 1 of its transformation on April 2 and will serve as a “sink or swim” example of whether large-scale IT Mod is feasible for the government.

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for our first interview in this blog series, which will feature Rob Klopp, the former CIO of the Social Security Administration, who ignited their IT Modernization process and got the ball rolling for other government agencies to follow suit. Rob will provide insights on the Agile approach and what it means for IT Mod. He will also discuss the challenges with moving beyond legacy systems and leading by consensus in change-averse environments. To learn more about successfully managing IT Mod efforts in the meantime, please reach out to yasmeen.burns@theclearing.com.

The post IT Mod Trailblazers: Insights from Leaders Undergoing Transformation appeared first on The Clearing.

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Interested in changing or influencing your organizational culture, but unsure of where to begin? You’re not alone. We often hear from leaders just like you who are not clear on how to get started, but there is a way you can begin taking small steps to positively transform your culture today.

Through our work at The Clearing, we’ve determined that culture is comprised of a collection of behaviors we tolerate and behaviors we do not tolerate. What’s more, behaviors can be largely driven by not just policies or rules, but by the physical spaces and tools around us. To that end, if you want an open, transparent, and collaborative culture in your organization, you need to provide a space, tools, and workplace policies that reinforce that.

We recently had a senior government client take her large organization to a more agile, collaborative, and transparent work environment, reinforced by an open floor plan. As a senior executive, she and her leadership team gave up their offices. She and her more than 100 staff now choose the space that best meets their needs to accomplish the tasks of the day. To allow for collaboration and support different work patterns and needs, they invested in more small conference rooms, collaboration spaces, some soft seating areas, “quiet areas” for heads down work, and phone booths for private calls or 1:1 meetings where one individual is working from a remote location.

To make staff feel involved in the workplace design and to support staff’s assimilation into the new environment, we helped this client identify and communicate workplace guidelines and ground rules for working in a shared, open workplace. We also asked staff to contribute to the identity of the space by helping to name the conference rooms and select colors for finishings that tied back to their organizational mission and brand. Tailored signage reinforced the new space labels and guidelines.

The organization is now successfully working in the space and with the efficiencies gained in reducing their footprint, they’re already seeing a return on investment, including increased productivity and employee satisfaction.

It’s important to keep in mind that workplace design is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. If your goal is to create a culture of openness, transparency, and collaboration, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every leader needs to give up his or her office. However, you might consider what other design or policy choices you do want to make as a leadership team to show your investment in the culture that you desire.

At The Clearing, culture is our business. When our clients understand the link between culture and workplace, they are able to use space design as a platform for reinforcing their desired culture to help the organization perform at its best. Curious about how you can take steps towards reinforcing the culture you want with workplace design? Send your questions to rebecca.gaynor@theclearing.com.

The post Driving Your Desired Culture through Workplace Design appeared first on The Clearing.

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A key component of the Shared Services business model that is often overlooked is the mentality that accompanies the act of sharing.

Consider examples of sharing in your personal life, and the inherent benefits of sharing, both to yourself and those with whom we share. You may share a home-cooked dinner with family members to increase efficiency through economies of scale. Sharing recommendations from a recent vacation with friends allows them to benefit from your experiences. And, increasingly commonly, we share car rides with strangers headed in the same direction for cost effectiveness, resulting in a lower cost per rider.

Along with these benefits, sharing generally also introduces the need to compromise. When sharing that home-cooked meal, we may not eat our favorite foods every night. When sharing travel tips, we sacrifice some of our own time to do so. And when sharing car rides, it may sometimes take longer to arrive at our destination than it would if we rode alone. But when we share in our personal lives, we make an intentional decision that the benefits–to ourselves and those with whom we are sharing–outweigh the costs.

Just like in our personal lives, sharing also has trade-offs in professional, results-oriented environments. Benefits that result from implementing a shared services business model allow organizations to focus on activities that support their core mission and often include improved process efficiency and cost savings.

Sometimes though, these benefits come at a cost, especially during and immediately following implementation, while we get used to the a new way of working…and trusting. We can feel a loss of control when we transition from having a travel agent down the hall to having one in a different building. Or we may not always receive responses as quickly from a shared services human resources team than we would from a colleague in the office next door.

In our experience, we have discovered two best practices to realizing the maximum benefits of shared services, while minimizing the costs, are to be intentional about the activities that are delivered by a shared services partner and to establish effective customer partnering relationships.

1. Implementing a successful shared services business model requires that leaders have a clear perspective of the current state of their organization and its core mission. Any activities that are not directly related to the core mission should be moved to a trusted shared services partner leaving the organization free to accomplish its mission unencumbered.

2. Being a customer in a shared service environment is a two-way street. Shared services business models are most effective when service providers and customers collaboratively develop solutions using a “bottom-up” approach, with the end-user at the center, rather than through a “top-down” directive. These business models are also most effective when they center around predictable, standardized requests, which consciously balance the needs of the end user with other constraints such as cost. Frequent custom requests and exceptions negatively impact the efficiency of a shared services center and should be compensated appropriately or addressed outside of the shared services center.

Interested in learning more about how The Clearing can help implement a shared service business model at your organization? Contact us at info@theclearing.com.

The post Two Best Practices to Maximize Shared Services Efforts appeared first on The Clearing.

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On May 2nd, The Clearing hosted the first in a series of conversations about culture in the workplace. In our inaugural event, Strike the Match, we talked about how to drive a peak performance culture, and challenged the audience to consider two important questions: What are the levers for peak performance, and where is your untapped growth? The discussion focused around tools found in The Clearing founder Chris McGoff’s latest book, Match in the Root Cellar: How You Can Spark a Peak Performance Culture.

In order to get people in the right mindset, we asked a series of diagnostic questions to find out what kind of organizational cultures our audience were currently experiencing. Over the course of the evening, we heard from people across various levels in their organizations, ranging from senior level executives to emerging leaders. One change maker told us that her company recognizes employees as a whole person, acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses. Giving feedback is one of the seven disciplines for driving a peak performance culture. When you give feedback as caring, you are focusing your discussion on principles of learning and growth which will ultimately produce better results for your customers.

At the end of the event, Chris led the audience through three PRIMES that helped everyone in the room realize how they could start creating a peak performance in their organization now.

The first PRIME was the Culture PRIME, where we talked about drawing a culture line. Above the line are the current things that we tolerate in our organizational culture and below the line are the current things that we do not tolerate in our culture. In order to drive a peak performance culture, we have to find the things in our culture that are above the line that may stop us from delivering ultimate value to our customers and move them below the line.Then we visited the Perimeter PRIME, where we talked about the red dot moments that allow us to step outside of ourselves and start having extraordinary conversations.

We ended the night with the Victim-Leader PRIME where we learned that sometimes we stand in the way of our own success, and in order to drive a peak performance culture we have to acknowledge that and move out of our own way.To learn more about how The Clearing can help your organization achieve a peak performance culture, click here. Or, contact us at info@theclearing.com to request an invitation to our next event in fall 2018.

The post An Event Recap of Strike the Match: A Culture Conversation appeared first on The Clearing.

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“I want my organization to be more collaborative.”
“I want to reduce organizational silos and improve performance.”
“I want an innovative culture.”
“I want people to truly embody our organizational identity and culture in the work they do.”

Sound familiar? We hear statements like these a lot from our clients at The Clearing. Often, they don’t realize that physical workplace design or workplace policies can actually hinder their efforts in achieving their desired culture.

Here are 4 common barriers we’ve seen to creating a desired workplace culture:

● Lack of informal convening spaces: If there are no gathering places available in an office, for example–no places to sit in a kitchenette, no soft seating, or other destinations outside of workstations and offices–people will tend to eat meals at desks and in offices. In settings like this, fewer informal or social gatherings may occur–if at all–in the workplace.
● Physical barriers: If a space is designed with high walls that restrict line of sight, light, and airflow, it can actually be a barrier to collaboration and even impact employees’ moods and wellness.
Frustrating tools and technology: If tools or technology are not readily accessible and intuitive in a space, people won’t use them–and if there are no places with whiteboards or collaboration tools, people may not be well-equipped to innovate.
● Lack of identity: If your organizational identity is critically important to you, but you don’t have anything in your space design–e.g. colors, pictures, design features–that truly showcases your identity, what message does this send? If guests enter a space that is disorienting, with a lack of signage, reception, character, or features for wayfinding–how does that impact the guest or employee experience?

These barriers can be overcome with either small or larger investments, depending on your goals. Here are a few ways to flip those common challenges into opportunities:

● If you build it, they will come. If you want to boost collaboration and innovation, incorporate soft seating, collaboration spaces, and small group seating in kitchenettes to encourage relationship-building, cross-pollination, and “mind-share” discussions. An added bonus: these interactions can actually boost organizational performance!
● Let there be light. If you want an energized, “well” culture, bring down some cubicle walls and other physical barriers, and consider repurposing areas in the office that get great light for use beyond solely the “C-suite”.
● Make your technology work for you–not the other way around. Invest in simple, easy technologies and tools that promote knowledge management, information sharing, and collaboration. Nothing is more frustrating or inefficient than dropped video calls or slow technology resources.
● Showcase your identity for employees and customers. Bring your organization’s personality to the forefront through color, furniture selection and space design, artwork, and signage throughout your space. First impressions are everything, so think about what you want your lobby or reception area to say about your company to current and potential customers, partners, and recruits.

Our advice? Use an agile method for workplace changes. Start simple with a few things, test them out, capture feedback and lessons learned, and course correct. Repeat. Curious to learn how you can avoid workplace design barriers to your organizational culture? Please reach out to rebecca.gaynor@theclearing.com.

The post Four Barriers to Creating Your Desired Workplace Culture (and How to Overcome Them) appeared first on The Clearing.

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Search for “culture in the workplace” books on Amazon.com, and you will receive over 7,000 results. Culture is a huge topic of interest for anyone passionate about the success of their organization, and at The Clearing, we’ve made culture our business. But why is culture important?

Research shows that organizations with “good” cultures outperform their competitors. The University of Warwick’s Department of Economics found that happy employees are 12 percent more productive than average employees, while unhappy employees are 10 percent less productive. What’s more, Gallup estimates that disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses over $300 billion each year.

At The Clearing, we believe that culture…
● Creates an organization’s identity–it’s how we treat each other, what we stand for, and, as an organization–the lens through which we look at the world around us.
● Helps people gauge and reinforce desired behaviors and helps suppress or reject undesired behaviors.
● Is, at the most basic level, the line between behaviors we tolerate and do not tolerate–reinforced by the perceivable actions of leadership and employee.

In our work, we have identified a critical link between culture and workplace design: If culture is the basis for the way people interact, then the physical space they interact in must be important, right?

If an organization’s culture is collaborative and interactive, a workplace design that calls for building many walls would be incongruent with the culture. Team members from that organization would find ways to collaborate and interact regardless of the physical barriers–but not without extra work and frustration. Likewise, if an organization’s culture is standoffish and toxic, throwing people into an open work environment will not build trust and collaboration. People in that organization will build barriers and find ways to avoid interaction.

That said, design features and tools in a physical space do drive behavior and impact how people feel about their organization–from availability of furniture, to type and style of furniture, to tools and technology available in a workspace. Even light, colors, and airflow or climate in the space can reinforce certain feelings and behaviors that impact culture. So, why not build into your workplace design the kind of physical space and tools that give you a leg up on reinforcing the culture you want?

Bottom line: Your physical space and tools, technologies, and policies are intrinsically linked to the culture you want to create or foster. Understand this, and you can begin to make culture shifts! To learn more about how workplace design can impact your organizational culture, please contact rebecca.gaynor@theclearing.com.

The post The Link between Physical Workplace and Organizational Culture (and Why It’s Important) appeared first on The Clearing.

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The United States Air Force (USAF) has recently made innovative moves under the leadership of Secretary Heather Wilson–taking an outside-the-box approach to solving some of the vexing challenges that the service continues to face. Necessity is often the mother of invention, and service leadership is getting creative in addressing challenges… in some cases, revisiting concepts, models and ideas that worked in the past and could work again.

Most recently, an interesting piece of news hit print which indicates that for the first time in years, the USAF is considering using enlisted pilots to help shore up its pilot shortage, which now hovers around a deficit of 2,000 pilots. The pilot shortage presents a direct threat to readiness and capability, making this issue one of several important concerns for the USAF. The issue is not driven by problems in pilot recruitment or attraction, but really centers around pilot retention.

For several decades, the USAF pilot corps has been composed of officers only. But for those who know their history, at one time, particularly during WWII, it wasn’t just officers who flew combat aircraft–a good portion of our nation’s military pilots were enlisted. So, the precedent for non-officer pilots exists. In fact, the bulk of U.S. Army aircraft are flown by Warrant Officers.

That said, the pilot shortage challenge is, at root, human-centric in terms of a solution. Certainly, technology can help accelerate training or identify areas of performance improvement. But finding qualified and capable people to perform the mission–and incentivizing them to stay on and grow into higher levels of the organization–is an effort dependent on human will, human decision-making and human ideas. The creative search for solutions is defined by humans. In fact, taking it a step further, the incentive component is as dependent on organizational design (i.e., what does an attractive and healthy, positive organization need to look like in order to retain talent and leadership) as it is anything else. To that point, the military services are competing for talent in a fixed pool–some reports suggest that this pool is less than 1% of eligible 17-24 year olds – with not only the other services, but with the likes of Google and Amazon as well.

While the idea of expanding pilot ranks to qualified and motivated enlisted airmen and women may seem limited, recognizing that latent talent, skill, experience and motivation exists in all corners of an organization is important. This is especially vital when finding ways to fix or build unit morale, or achieve unified sense of mission and purpose, or recognizing human value and contribution in a large enterprise. Accordingly, what might appear now to be a practical, shorter-term stop-gap measure based on necessity might actually represent a way to achieve a number of longer-term benefits for the organization. Current leaders must ensure that the culture they are promising actually exists when this highly-skilled talent arrives at their first duty station.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see what the next steps in this endeavor look like–if the USAF is seriously considering opening some pilot jobs to the enlisted ranks. To be successful, the service will have to consider a number of additional issues, from what type of aircraft and missions enlisted pilots would fly, to addressing the inevitable social complications and culture-shock that will occur once a significant change in is undertaken.

But on the whole, this type of innovative approach to address human-based challenges in an organization is intriguing and necessary to solving the problems the country faces–both in government and out–and represents an exciting shift in perspective that could empower service members to more meaningfully contribute. To learn more about applying human-centric approaches to organizational problems, please contact Travis Wright.

The post USAF’s Human-Centric Approach to Problem Solving appeared first on The Clearing.

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