Wicked Problems for Today’s Leaders

Einstein-creativity-problems

My wife and I wanted to get a motion detector in our backyard. We had a backlight on the house already. The house was a new construction. The motion detector would be additional security. We estimated the price to be under $200.

When the electrician arrived, he talked with us about our needs and did a thorough inspection of the home. He came back with an estimate of over $600. He rationalized this price due to the configuration of our home and the difficulty of wiring this fixture.

My wife and I both wanted this motion detector. However, we were unwilling to pay the price for this addition. Thus, we needed to redefined the problem. We wanted this motion detector as extra security for the home. We asked the electrician what it would cost to change out the light fixture. He mentioned less than $80. The motion detector was about $50. By redefining or refocusing the problem, we were able to carryout a better solution. 

In search of more lucrative markets, today’s companies are looking for more opportunities across the globe. The United States is a land where dreams come true. Individuals from across the globe come to this country for possible opportunities. Yet, companies fail every day in the marketplace.

According to one study, the failure rate for new startups is about 46%. Botch understanding of your business competencies and market opportunities may put to be fatal. On the contrary, businesses that provide value to customers by solving their pressing problems are rewarded.

By solving someone’s challenging problems, individuals are compensated very well. Thus, solving ‘wicked problems’ could yield greater rewards.  In this session, we will discuss the concepts of wicked problems and introduces how organizations can solve them with effective leaders who provide a burst of innovative thinking.

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New Product Development Strategies

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With the aftermath of globalization, companies are carefully thinking about the best ways to extend their product and service offering. Thus, product development strategy is critical for their success. Yet, many companies are in defensive mode and merely want to maintain the position in the market place.

However, staying in a holding position is a definite way for companies to be left behind. Innovative thinking that allows for product/service growth is a too sure way for sustainable success. In today’s discussion, we will explore the importance of product development for the growth of businesses, especially in a competitive market.

Launching into new product offerings is not easy. According to one market research, approximately 75% of consumer-packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year.[1] Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen, who is the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation, suggests that the failure rate of new products may actually be as high as 95%. Product failure rates relate to the number of products that are launched commercially but fail. Continue reading

Technology Relevancy

Components of Technology

We can’t survive without technology.  Are we too dependent on it?  When the computer network is down in our office, it’s a pretty wasted day because we are paperless.  Yet, you won’t find many modern organizations that can operate when their technology malfunctions. 

This week we will focus on technology relevancy as part of the three practical applications (i.e. value modeling, technology relevancy, and human factor buy-in) in socio-technical systems.  

Organizations must understand that technology needs to be relevant as it relates to benefiting the whole socio-technical system.  Technology relates to the combination of skills and equipment that managers use in the design, production, and distribution of goods and services.[1]   

Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, argue the significance of technology forces on organizations:  “Technological forces can have profound implications for managers and organizations. Technological change can make established products obsolete….”  The graveyard of many businesses is littered with numerous failed opportunities of senior executives to understand market shifts and technology opportunities.   

As an engineer myself, we are taught to use theory in order to build, design, and operate technical systems, whether mechanical, digital, or otherwise. Sometimes this creates a technical superiority over the other components of this socio-technical system. 

Organizations should obtain input from employees to ensure that the organization has not only the best technology for its operations but the right technology.[2]  This sharing of information can only come with mutual trust of leaders and followers.  Gary Yukl, author of Leadership in Organizations, notes, “Empowerment is more feasible when there is a high level of mutual trust…Leaders can affect the psychological employment of followers in many ways, and participative leadership and delegation are only two of the relevant behaviors .”[3] 

There have been numerous cases where organizations have purchased new technology to solve a problem or to become more efficient when a simple conversation with impacted employees would have produced better results at a lower cost. Therefore, organizations should invest their time in identifying the relevant technologies for their socio-technical system in a participatory manner.    

Discuss the concept of technology relevancy for today’s organizations. 

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green                                    


[1] Jones, G.  & George, J. (2009). Contemporary Management

[2] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[3]Leadership in Organizations by Gary Yukl

 

 

Disruptive Technology in Our Future

 

In life, sometimes it is the simple things that count despite modern technology.  In the next few months, I will be able to see 3-4 of my books published.  Traditionally, it takes most large publishing houses 12-18 months before their books are published. 

As an independent publisher, I learned that the speed of products to the market place is a good way to beat a large competitor.  In fact, my success relates to a simple website called Elance.com, a freelance website that allow customers to solicit work from a variety of outsourcing services which include programmers, designers, office support, translators, marketers, researchers and many other disciplines. 

Elance.com allows a business to post a job opening and invites freelance workers who believe they have the requisite skills for the job to make a bid. The company charges a $10 fee to each business to post a job and also takes a small portion of what gets paid to contractors. 

 Through this website, I have found some of the most talented individuals from across the world. For these services, it is a buyer’s market.  Some people would argue that it is all about buying cheap labor for profitability.  

In this scenario, developed countries appear to be exploiting underdeveloped countries.  This is not always true.  I have paid more in the past for the best talent.  With that said, potential employers see a website that attracts over 500,000 talented freelancers.  For the freelancer, there is an opportunity to bid on 48,000 jobs, worth $480K. Therefore, a differentiate strategy can defeat a low cost  strategy on a global playing field.  

Technology must be a management tool that is used strategically.  Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, provides a framework for understanding the interrelationship between technology changes and a business success. Christensen demonstrates how successful companies have been overtaken by small disruptive technologies. 

The cell phone, undermining the profitability of the established communication networks such as AT&T, further showcases the impacts of disruptive technology.  Sadly, more executives are unwilling to think strategically due to the wrath of their investors and financial pundits.  

For example, Amazon’s revenue grew in 2012 but the details were lacking.  Amazon.com’s revenue rose to 17.4 billion (35% increase) in the fourth quarter.  However, it fell short of Wall Street predictions. 

According to VentureBeat, Amazon sold as many as 6 million Kindle Fires and its older tablet prototype . Given this reality, the Fire would move ahead of Android tablets from Sansung and Motorola, making it only second to Apple’s iPad. Analysts were concerned that the $199 Fire would make a profit.  Additionally, Amazon.com is spending capital on clouding technology.  

Maximizing profits on Fire as an industry leading tablet is a near- term strategy. However, CEO Jeff Bezos appears to have disappointed Wall Street with a long-term perspective instead of sacrificing shareholders with profits in the near term. 

Innovators take note of disruptive change as positive turbulence in the market.  John Gamble and Arthur Thompson, authors of Essentials of Strategic Management, explain, “Understanding the nature of competitively important resources allows managers to identify resources or capabilities that should be further developed to play an important role in the company’s future strategies.” Therefore, organizations which do not understand the importance of making sustainable growth by being more efficient will not be successful over the long-term. 

 Discuss your professional and personal experiences with disruptive technology.

© 2012 by Daryl D. Green