My latest Articles

(Thought and Vigor, Fast Company, Talent Culture, Switch and Shift, and more)

  • Should We Cap Executive Salaries? Pay in the Age of the Social Business
    Social business isn’t just about creating more ethical products. It isn’t about small tweaks that make a business less ugly. It’s about addressing the fundamentals of society and of a business within society. And nothing is more fundamental to business than pay. After all, nobody would go to the office without it. So what are […] Read more... Read More» The post Should We Cap Executive Salaries? Pay in the Age of the Social Business appeared first on Switch & Shift. Read more
    Source: Switch and ShiftPublished on 2016-04-26By Mark Lukens
  • Revolution or Evolution – Which Will You Lead?
    Transformation is a big deal in business leadership. Since the Second World War and the Japanese economic resurgence that followed, we’ve seen a steady growth in the tools and techniques of transformation. We’ve analyzed how to transform a businesstypes of transformation, how to overcome the challenges, even the details of how to make specific transformations. Is it time to move the conversation on? The Grand Upheaval The Second World War led to two great strands of change in business processes, both rooted in manufacturing. In the United States, analysts such as Robert McNamara brought data-driven analysis to the arms industry to fight the war more efficiently. The necessities of global conflict made it easier to push through change. In the post-war era, their insights led to an interest in change management that eventually gave birth to Six Sigma in the 1980s. Meanwhile, in reconstruction Japan, engineers were building on the work of Sakichi Toyoda, Kiichiro Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno to create the Toyota Production System. This approach, and the lean management techniques that followed, focused on process analysis and the removal of waste. The upheaval of war created radical new approaches. To break through the barriers of habit and complacency, they were executed through transformational projects of great drama and energy. A whole industry of transformation consultants emerged. But is this still what we need? Evolving a Business Doubtless, some businesses still benefit from the swift kick in the pants that is a transformational project. But as history has shown time and… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-04-20By Mark Lukens
  • Zuckerberg’s LLC and the Future of Social Business
    “By using an LLC instead of a traditional foundation… we gain flexibility to execute our mission more effectively.” – Mark Zuckerberg The foundation of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s new philanthropic venture, has drawn attention for the generosity of its founding investment – 99 percent of Zuckerberg’s Facebook shares, valued at $45 billion. But in some ways, the form the initiative will take is as important as the amount of money being invested. The Initiative will be an LLC rather than a registered charity, an unusual model for a philanthropic endeavor, and one for which Zuckerberg has been criticized. Zuckerberg’s approach highlights how much using business models can benefit social enterprises. Flexibility The LLC is among the most popular forms of corporate governance, and with good reason. It provides a level of flexibility not available in most other structures. In particular, it has more flexibility than a charity. Charities are bound by legal restrictions, and with good reason. For a conventional charity to work, it has to be trusted. Donors need certainty that their money will be spent on the cause to which they donated, and that it will spent wisely. They need to know that the people running the charity aren’t just out to make a profit for themselves, and regulations provide reassurance. But a foundation such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative doesn’t need to earn public trust. Its funds come from the private wealth of its founders. It can function without the restrictions legal charity… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-04-14By Mark Lukens
  • Are You Taking Social Marketing Seriously?
    Are You Taking Social Marketing Seriously? We all talk the social marketing talk. Whether it’s in blog posts, books or dinner party conversations, the air of business is heady with the jargon of social media as a marketing tool – demographic slices, viral videos, tweets, followers, traction, penetration, and a thousand more buzzwords that seem to fit the theme. It’s easy to talk the talk. The question is, are you really walking the walk? A New Age Social marketing isn’t just about taking old approaches and applying them through new channels. It’s not that you can’t apply the old ways on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can apply those old ways anywhere. But in the new world of social marketing, they won’t gain you the traction to get ahead of your competitors, or even ahead of where you are now. Old approaches to advertising were about putting out a single mass message. You reached millions of people, and hoped to attract a few thousand of them to your products. A campaign built for social media is far more sophisticated and more tightly focused. Instead of wasting effort on reaching a mass market, it targets the customers most likely to want your products. By being personal and targeted it reaches them in a way that mass marketing never could. It is more focused, more effective, and will beat old approaches every time. Giving to Receive This means that your marketing can’t just be a matter of empty slogans. Your marketing is… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-04-12By Mark Lukens
  • Why Leaders Should Seek Out Immigrant Employees
    Reactionaries see this as a threat. But as socially conscious business leaders we should be seizing the opportunity it creates – to build closer communities, a better society and stronger businesses.... Read More» The post Why Leaders Should Seek Out Immigrant Employees appeared first on Switch & Shift. Read more
    Source: Switch and ShiftPublished on 2016-04-12By Mark Lukens
  • Revolution or Evolution – Which Will You Lead?
    Transformation is a big deal in business leadership. Since the Second World War and the Japanese economic resurgence that followed, we’ve seen a steady growth in the tools and techniques of transformation. We’ve analyzed how to transform a business, types of transformation, how to overcome the challenges, even the details of how to make specific […] Read more... Read More» The post Revolution or Evolution – Which Will You Lead? appeared first on Switch & Shift. Read more
    Source: Switch and ShiftPublished on 2016-04-06By Mark Lukens
  • Applying Analytics in a Human Way
    Applying Analytics in a Human Way Big data has been one of the big trends of the past year. But by its very nature it can be dehumanizing, distancing us from the reality of people’s lived experience. The challenge we must face this year, and going forward from it, is how to connect that analytics into the lived experience of employees and so use big data in a more human way. Encouraging Self-awareness One of the growing trends in big data is using its power to understand and manage talent. At the moment, this is often viewed from a high level. Managers use the data to identify gaps in the talent pool within their organizations, as well as for opportunities to grow the existing skill base. That insight becomes the basis for broad talent development strategies, which eventually filter down into individual training and development. But there’s a disconnect between the data and the ways that employees experience the results. While the organization is using data to self-reflect and improve, it isn’t using it to give employees the same opportunity. The best learning and development comes from understanding ourselves. If we can use the available data to increase employees’ self-awareness then we can make them agents of their own talent development, not just recipients of training courses. We should use the data to help them understand their own performance, put that performance in the wider context of the business, and show them what they could be achieving. It’s about connecting… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-04-05By Mark Lukens
  • Communicating in depth
    Communicating in depth How authentic is your approach to communication? It can be a difficult question to ask ourselves. In the age of Twitter and corporate spin, a lot of the communication around us can seem shallow and devoid of meaning. A lot of it is. It’s easy to slip into the habit of communicating in bulk rather than in depth, running around expressing frequent messages rather than deep, well-considered ones. But think about how you respond to that clutter of communications noise. Do you take more in because there’s more out there? Of course not. What works is communication that shows quality and depth. So how can you cut through the noise? How do you achieve that sort of communication? Balance There is a balance to be struck here. You don’t want to become so afraid of over-reaching or creating noise that you recede into quiet passivity, your message all but forgotten. Equally, you don’t want to become ‘that guy’, the aggressive communicator who’s so busy putting his message out that he never stops to listen to others. The balancing place in the middle, the spot where successful communication lies, is assertiveness – not letting your views be drowned out but not drowning others out either. Part of this balance is in how much you communicate and how hard you think about it. Pushing too far into high quality can mean spending hours over every single sentence, hardly ever getting your message out. In an ideal world every message… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-03-29By Mark Lukens
  • Zuckerberg’s LLC and the Future of Social Business
    Zuckerberg’s approach highlights how much using business models can benefit social enterprises.... Read More» The post Zuckerberg’s LLC and the Future of Social Business appeared first on Switch & Shift. Read more
    Source: Switch and ShiftPublished on 2016-03-29By Mark Lukens
  • How to Tap into Employees’ Social Skills
    Are you ready to tap into Employees’ Social Skills? Social skills have always been important to work, though their vital role is not always well recognized. With the growing sophistication of management techniques and the meteoric rise of social media, they have leapt to the forefront, and are now on the minds of recruiters and managers looking. But if you want to make the most of these skills, it is not enough just to recruit the socially adept. You need to find ways to best channel the social skills of all your employees. The Age of Social Skills A recent paper by David J. Deming illustrates the long term rise of social skills. Analyzing data gathered by the U.S. Department of Labor, Deming found a steady increase in the importance of social skills across the American workforce since 1980. In the space of a generation, the amount of time committed to social tasks rose by 24%, and continued to rise even as other rising skill sets went into decline. The importance of this finding cannot be overstated. The prominent place social skills have gained in recent years is not just a reflection of the rise of social media. It is part of a long term trend, one that looks set to continue. Your workforce will increasingly be focused on social tasks, and you need to be ready for that. The Danger of the Vague Making your business more socially skilled is not just a matter of employing people with those… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-03-22By Mark Lukens
  • Why Businesses Need to Act Openly, Inside as Well as Out
    Why Businesses Need to Act Openly, Inside as Well as Out “Word spread because word will spread. Stories and secrets fight, stories win, shed new secrets, which new stories fight, and on.” ― China Miéville, Embassytown If ever a case needed to be made for greater openness in business, then Volkswagen have inadvertently made it. The lies and secrets around emissions from their vehicles, which continue to be uncovered week by week, month by month, have done the company huge damage. Human beings are wired to understand the world through stories, and in the public imagination this story of deception outweighs many facts about the quality of Volkswagen cars. This is no isolated case. It represents a wider social shift that shows why businesses will benefit from being more open. The Need for Openness The rise of Generation X was meant to see the end of idealism. The fractured moral landscape of postmodernity and the lack of clear sides that came with the supposed ‘end of history’ were set to turn us all into cynics. Instead, we live in a more idealistic age than ever before. Customers have realized that their food is full of chemicals and their financial institutions riddled with corruption, and instead of accepting this they demand something better. Research by Morgan Stanley shows that millennials are three times more likely to seek employment with a company they consider to have good ethics, and twice as likely to buy or invest in products aiming for better social… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-03-16By Mark Lukens
  • Unleashing the Power of Organic Change
    Unleashing the Power of Organic Change Any business has to change to succeed. That’s why Six Sigma, Lean and a host of other change management approaches have become so popular. The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. – Alan Watts But truly successful change doesn’t come from the outside or from above. It emerges organically from a culture in which change is an integral part. Leaving the Change Question Behind The battle over change management used to revolve around the word ‘change’. Managers didn’t want to face the difficult choices and challenges involved in transforming their processes and becoming something better. For those businesses that matter, the fight has moved on. Enough managers have embraced the need for constant re-evaluation and reinvention that those businesses without them are naturally left in the dust. Leading now isn’t about standing out from these dinosaurs, but about standing out from the other cavemen as we all rub management sticks together, hoping to replicate the fire of improvement. The new battle is over the ‘management’ in change management. As long as change comes from above, employees may accept it but they are unlikely to truly embrace it. We need to stop ‘managing’ change and instead create the conditions for it to naturally arise. Clearing the Path If you want employees to embrace change then you need to reward them for making improvements. This is such an obvious and attractive prospect,… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-03-12By Mark Lukens
  • The 3 “P”s of Great Recruitment
    The fundamentals of running a business are the most important parts, and often the most neglected by leaders looking to improve. So much is taken for granted that we forget to consider why we do what we do. One of those fundamentals is recruitment, and you can improve it by focusing on the three “P”s – purpose, process and performance. Purpose Improvement of an area of your business should always stem from the root purpose of that area. If you don’t keep its purpose constantly in mind, instead following the well trodden paths of habit and of others’ ideas, then you will never make something great. So consider the purpose of your recruitment process – to recruit the best possible employees for your business. That means that the process should be unique to you. If your culture is built around good communication then build recruitment around that. If you place great emphasis on social responsibility, or want to draw in recruits who care about the world around them, then make that part of your system. Whatever sort of candidates you want, keep that purpose in mind throughout the other steps. Process To be fit for purpose, any process should be up to date. Don’t slavishly follow the latest trends and technological options, but consider whether they are for you. 43% of candidate aged under 45 consider texting a professional way to update them on the recruitment process. Social networks such as LinkedIn are often good for finding candidates who are… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-03-12By Mark Lukens
  • Leading from the Heart
    Leading from the Heart…Emotions have incredible power. They motivate and shape behavior. To lead successfully we have to tap into our emotions, and learn how best to use them. A Culture of Suppression Protestantism may be in decline in many parts of the world, but the Protestant Work Ethic continues to dominate corporate culture. This puts Puritan assumptions into the way we work, excluding emotion as a frivolous distraction from the serious business of achievement. It’s hardly breaking news that this culture of emotional suppressing is psychologically unhealthy and socially unproductive – over a hundred years of psychology have taught us that lesson over and again. Yet in leading we still try to set aside emotions – both our own and those of others. It’s a waste of a valuable resource, one we’ve evolved over millions of years. Emotions exist for a reason, and to close them down is to close down our own potential. The Power of Emotions The reality is that people never entirely set aside their emotions, however hard they try. Ignoring them means ignoring such important factors as the disengagement and lack of productivity that arises from boredom or the anger and resistance that blocks so many change programs. We need to pay attention to what employees are feeling and how that affects their work. Our own emotions are important too. As Seth Godin points out, intuition is successful pattern matching over time. Our instinctive responses can tell us a lot about the world, and make… Read more
    Source: Thought and VigorPublished on 2016-03-12By Mark Lukens
  • How Leaders Can Balance Logic And Emotion To Make Better Decisions
    You've already heard how emotional intelligence leads to success. And you may have figured out how to channel your emotions into productive uses at work and in high-stakes decision making. But where does that leave logic? Perhaps a bigger challenge than making room for emotions in the workplace is knowing how to keep them in balance with rational thinking. If we can get that formula right, we may be able to make better decisions. Trying to subordinate our feelings to logic is a futile effort and a waste of a valuable resource—one that we've evolved over millions of years.A Work Ethic That Doesn't Work That Well Implicitly or otherwise, the cultural legacy in the West of the "Protestant work ethic" continues to hold sway over corporate cultures into the 21st century. As sociologists have long noted, one of its key features is the exclusion of emotion as a frivolous distraction from the serious business of achievement. We see this today in the popular drive to become more productive, rigorously track our performance, and adopt self-improvement plans. It's all about optimizing outcomes through rational action. When they do play a role, emotions are usually made to operate within this system, rarely outside or even against it. It's hardly breaking news that this type of approach can be psychologically unhealthy and socially unproductive; more than a hundred years of psychology have taught us that. The fact remains that trying to subordinate our feelings to logic is a futile effort and a waste… Read more
    Source: Fast CompanyPublished on 2016-03-09By Mark Lukens