19 Chapters
Medium 9781576751824

7 ZERO LEARNING LAG

Lekanne Deprez, Frank Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

TRAINING PROGRAMS, management courses, seminars: we are inundated with learning opportunities everywhere. This is essential if there is to be a match between the information and knowledge a company has and the work done by its employees. We have long passed the era of the “mushroom management method”—keeping employees in the dark and feeding them mush. But learning is still too often considered an add-on rather than an integral part of the business process.

As we move further into the knowledge-based economy, knowledge and brainpower are given an ever-higher premium. Yet we are also facing a crisis of learning. Rather than producing people well-equipped to enter the new economy, the school systems of both the United States and Western Europe are allowing their standards to drop to worryingly low levels. The new economy is not helped by an old education system!

In an interview in the magazine Fast Company John Taylor Gatto said: “Schools… are built to supply a mass production economy with a docile workforce; they ask too little of the children, and thereby drain youngsters of curiosity and autonomy.”1

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17 WHAT’S IN STORE?

Lekanne Deprez, Frank Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

SOME ORGANIZATIONS ARE ALREADY EVOLVING toward zero space. We see many companies working in zero time with zero matter, forming networks and communities, and enjoying the benefits of knowledge rather than owning it. This is inevitable. Zero space organizations offer the flexibility that is essential in the face of new—often unpredictable—circumstances. As windows of opportunity increasingly narrow, organizations will need to be able to adapt swiftly and anticipate the direction in which potential gain and success lie.

Yet although there are signs that some companies are moving into zero space, it would be inaccurate to suggest that all are moving in the same direction. Some are actually moving backwards, retracing their past.

This is, perhaps, understandable. Companies and managers today are under enormous pressure. Shareholders are demanding ever-higher returns. Managers must try to satisfy the competing claims of shareholders and the other stakeholders who demand “good corporate governance.” Costs are under constant scrutiny. IT promises increased productivity, which is necessary to defray the investments that IT systems require. Balancing people, planet, and performance is the name of the game. With increased accountability and transparency, there is greater pressure on executives to meet targets. In consequence, many are turning back the clock—and so they centralize and standardize.

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6 ZERO VALUE GAP

Lekanne Deprez, Frank Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

HOW OFTEN DO products and services disappoint because they do not meet the customer’s expectations? How big is the gap between promise and result, expectation and reality? Is there a difference between what a customer wants and what a company thinks that customer wants?

This has always been a great concern for all manufacturers and service providers. But in a time when the window of opportunity has become so small, it becomes more crucial than ever. You only have one opportunity—and if you get it wrong, you won’t get another shot at it.

Any value gap threatens the very existence of a company. This is why so many companies invest enormously in getting to know their customers and understanding them. The true value of customers as a major competitive asset is gradually seeping through to all layers of business.

But customer satisfaction—as important as that is—only comes into its own when it leads to customer share. Yeh, Pearson, and Kozmetsky define this as the volume of business a customer does with a certain company versus its competitors over the course of the customer’s lifetime.1 In other words, a company must determine the extent of a customer’s loyalty and how it can take steps to ensure that loyalty over time.

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9 ZERO RESISTANCE

Lekanne Deprez, Frank Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

HOW OFTEN DO CUSTOMERS want one thing while the corporate process produces another? This mismatch between expectation and performance is one of the main reasons a company loses its competitive edge. Often such mismatches can be traced to bottlenecks and barriers in the corporate process. For example, when a customer requests information from a Web site, that information should be sent out as quickly as possible. A three-week wait for a brochure is unacceptable today, when customers expect instant responses to their demands.

We believe that one of the principal causes for the bottlenecks and barriers is resistance.

People and companies have a built-in resistance to change. Everyone understands the need for change. Everyone knows that it has to happen on an ongoing basis. Yet everyone is also convinced that it’s “the other person’s” concern. Change, when it happens, always has to begin elsewhere.

This built-in resistance kills change. It is a force that slows or stops movement. It is, once again, like the obstinacy of a mammoth tanker: the pilot turns the wheel to change direction, but it takes a very long time for the tanker to respond. Successful change often is the result of many actions and perspectives at once. Simply continuing on the same course, proceeding “as we have always done,” creates an inertia that at times seems almost irresistible.

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10 ZERO EXCLUSION

Lekanne Deprez, Frank Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

IN TODAY’S WORLD companies are competitors in the morning, partners in the afternoon, and friends at night. Peter Senge and Goran Carstedt believe that “our real future lies in building sustainable enterprises and an economic reality that connects industry, society, and the environment.”1 Leadership in the twenty-first century is a matter of inspiring, motivating, and challenging people, many of whom are not employed by the leading enterprise and not under the influence of formal leadership. Leaders must be able to trust and “let loose” the operations of partners and employees, without having full control over them. What worked well when those companies were going it alone may not work in a collaborative environment. The competencies needed for leaders to make progress are co-sensing (jointly “tuning into” emerging patterns) and co-creating the new.2 Often there is not a lot of time to comanufacture or coevolve. In high-velocity markets, leaders neglect to update their collaborative links as businesses and markets emerge, grow, split, and combine.3 They become OECs—Operating on the Edge of Chaos—instead of CEOs.4

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