Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday School: Lessons on Unity from 1 Corinthians 1

 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

1. Prayer

2. Background

  • Founded church on second journey
  • Apollos followed
  • Paul's third journey -- at Ephesus
  • Divided church (letters, visits)

3. Read Scripture

4. Breakout rooms (What are some of our divisions in the church today?)

5. Divided over cliques

  • I am of Paul.
  • I am of Apollos.
  • I am of Cephas.
  • I am of Christ.
  • What are the groups in the church that we fight over--denominations? churches in town? Christian colleges?

6. Divided over status

  • taking each other to court (1 Cor. 6)
  • The rich getting drunk at communion
  • What are examples here? racial privilege, the haves over the have nots

7. One group thinks they know more.

  • eating at the marketplace, eating at a pagan temple
  • Probably didn't know as much as they thought
  • The key was building each other up

8. One group thinks they're more spiritual

  • tongues versus prophecy
  • women without coverings
  • self-contradictory, to boast of spirituality
  • about building each other up

Sunday, March 21, 2021

"Face toward the Cross" (sermon starters)

"Set Your Face Toward the Cross"

March 21, 2021

McCrae Brook Wesleyan Church

Text: Luke 9:18-25, 51


The unfolding of COVID. Fever, symptoms on Day 3. Most who go into the hospital do so on Day 7. If you make it with oxygen high enough by Day 10, you probably are going to survive. 

Long job searches where you know the process is going to take months. Your future hangs in the balance while you watch the hour hand move slowly around.

Jesus sets his face toward the cross in Luke 9, but he doesn't get to Jerusalem until Luke 19.

I. The Anxiety of Jesus

John 12:27 -- There's a whole lot that is summarized very briefly here. John gives us the superJesus, the super-confident, super-powerful, super-knowing Jesus. This verse gives only a hint of what we know from the other Gospels:

  • "Now is my soul sorrowful, even to the point of death" (Matt. 26:38).
  • He prayed that, if it were possible, he wanted the hour to pass from him. He asked the Lord to remove the cup from him. (Mark 14:34-36)
Let's think on this. This is the same Jesus who spoke Matthew 6:25-34. 

Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was tempted like us. He felt anxiety about his death. It's not about the feelings. It's about the moment of decision.

II. The Temptations of Emotions

Emotions in themselves are neither good or bad, it's what we do with them that counts. It's the choices we make. Casablanca -- we don't know exactly what the Captain is going to decide when Rick shoots the Nazi. Harry Potter -- for a moment I thought I wasn't either

  • Anger -- in your anger do not sin (Ephesians 4:26) -- press pause, journal, vent to others, pray
  • Doubt -- find others to be faith for you, revisit moments of God's visitation in the past
  • Sadness -- read psalms of lament, get it out, then tune into joy, get around people
  • Anxiety -- when fear keeps us from acting in faith or wronging others -- choose courage, take the next step of courage

III. The Lord will Provide

The story of Abraham and Isaac. Jehovah Jireh. No matter what, God gives grace (James 4:6) -- he gives more grace when the burdens grow greater


Set your face toward the cross. Take up your cross and follow Jesus. Do it one step, one choice at a time.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

17. The Competencies of a Master Manager (management series)

I don't know if I will finish blogging through each of the chapters of the book, but I have finished this book and wanted to post what would be the final post in the series. This is a summary of the competencies of a master manager as set out in the book.

Thinking Critically
In the Introduction, the general need for a manager to be able to think critically is set out. "The task of the critical thinker is to make the best decision with the available information in a particular circumstance" (20).  

I. Collaborate (human relations model of management)
The book uses what it calls a "Competing Values Framework" for management. These values are all part of the repertoire of a master manager, even though they are often in tension with each other. The four values are collaboration, control, competition, and creation.

1. Understanding Self and Others
To collaborate, you first need to have an understanding of yourself and others. This involves emotional intelligence and social intelligence. The Johari window is in this section. Myers-Briggs is mentioned in this section.

2. Communicating Honestly and Effectively
Once you have a basic sense of yourselves and others, you will need to be able to communicate to others in order to collaborate. Basic communication theory is in this section. 

3. Mentoring and Developing Others
In relation to personal interaction, part of being a manager involves the mentoring and developing of subordinates. Annual performance reviews are treated in this section, as well as coaching. Delegation is one way to train a person. 

4. Managing Groups and Leading Teams
A manager will lead a team at some point. The kinds of styles that members of a team sometimes play is mentioned here. The section also talks about how to run a meeting. The stages of forming, storming, norming, performing is also treated.

5. Managing and Encouraging Constructive Conflict
Working with others will inevitably result in conflict, whether personal or task-related. Such conflict can be productive, but there are better and worse ways to facilitate through it. Four approaches to conflict management are given.

II. Control (internal processing model of management)
One of the older theories of management has to do with the internal organization of that which is being managed. 

1. Organizing Information Flows
We are inundated with more data than ever. The TRAF method gives a system for processing the influx. The OABC method of composing concise messages is given. 

2. Working and Managing Across Functions
The complexity of the modern world requires working across silos in an organization. On the one hand, as organizations grow, workflows need to be differentiated (which leads to siloing). But these areas cannot be completely be separated, so there needs to be integrated across functions.

3. Planning and Coordinating Projects
Several project management approaches are presented in this section--work breakdown structure, PERT charts, GANTT charts, the human resource matrix. Also presented are cost and schedule variances, including concepts like "Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled," "Budgeted Cost of Work Performed," and "Actual Cost of Work Performed."

4. Measuring and Monitoring Performance and Quality
Assessment and measuring outcomes is an important part of any organization. 

5. Encouraging and Enabling Compliance
There will almost always be those who do not follow the rules. This section goes through a number of reasons people given for non-compliance. Motivations for compliance are also given--carrots, sticks, etc.

III. Compete (rational goal model)
Perhaps the oldest model for management is the one that has to do with goal setting, productivity, and profitability.

1. Developing and Communicating a Vision
Mission statements, vision statements, values statements are a standard part of organizations. 

2. Setting Goals and Objectives
The concept of SMART goals is presented. 

3. Motivating Self and Others
Some motivation theory is presented, including content theories (relating to desired things) and process theories (which focus on how motivation is done). Expectancy theory looks at why people are motivated. In particular, they need to be confident they are able, the outcome is possible, and that it is valuable.

4. Designing and Organizing
Material on org charts and hierarchical/non-hierarchical structures is given. Ways of organizing units are given along with Galbraith's "star" model for designing an organization. Different organizational cultures are given that correlate more or less to the emphases of the four different models.

5. Managing Execution and Driving for Results
Time Management is a topic of this section, going back to some fundamental insights of Peter Drucker. Three keys to execution are given--watching the people process, the strategy process, and the operations process.

IV. Create (the open systems model)
The final approach to management focuses on innovation, change, and adaptability. It has become increasingly important in the twenty-first century.

1. Using Power and Influence Ethically and Effectively
This section talks about the proper use of power, including five different sources of power. Some strategies of influence are given.

2. Championing and Selling New Ideas
Seven Cs for business communication are well known. Messages should be complete, concise, considerate, clear, concrete, courteous, and correct. But messages are of different sorts. They can be relational, informational, promotional, and transformational. The SSSAP approach to effective presentations is given.

3. Fueling and Fostering Innovation
The difference between critical and creative thinking is presented. It is insisted that creative thinking can develop even in someone who is not "naturally" creative. Brainstorming as a technique is presented.

4. Negotiating Agreement and Commitment
We all have a "social credit rating," social capital that gives us a listen. For dialog, there must be mutual purpose, meaning, and respect. Some principles for successful negotiating are given.

5. Implementing and Sustaining Change
A force-field analysis is a predictor of whether change will happen. Is the organization in a dysfunctional state? Change will not be difficult to lead. Is it super-stable, in an "extraordinary state"? Then it will be hard to change. A "normal-ordinary state" is balanced and, again, will not necessarily sense a need for change. Four strategies for change are given--telling, forcing, participating, and transforming.

Again, the master manager will seek for integration of these competing values. Without integration, the zones of strength move into a negative zone where they are actually a weakness. A "systems thinker" sees the whole and can handle paradoxical thinking. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

13. The Knowing-Doing Gap (management series)

This is a fun one. 2000 book review in the Harvard Business School Press, 2000. The book is The Knowing-Doing Problem, by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton

Knowing what to do is not enough
"The gap between knowing and doing is more important than the gap between ignorance and knowing."

"Better ways of doing things cannot remain secret for long."

"Sustainable competitive advantage is built by doing things that are difficult to imitate."

Talk and Action
There is a "tendency to equate talking about something with actually doing something about it."

"Mission statement is one of the common means that organizations use ot substitute talk for action." :-) Love this one. So true.

"We should form our impression of others based on how well they perform" which "can be assessed only wih a greater time lag." This "clashes with the natural human tendency to form impressions quickly" and "does not fit within the time scale of the performance appraisal..."

"One of the best ways of sounding smart is to be critical of the ideas of other people. It is always possible to fid a reason to say no to some idea or proposal."

People also "try to impress others by using complex language." "Simple talk is valuable because it is more likely to lead to action." Mobilizing rhetoric:

  • casts an imaginative vision of the future
  • gives a realistic portrayal of the present
  • a selective description of the pasat
  • gives a sense of urgency
Memory and Thinking

"Memory often serves as a substitute for thinking."

"Most human beings are inclined to avoid evidence that disconfirms what they believe."

Three main ways to avoid relying on the past as a mindless guide to action:

  • Start a new organization or subunit.
  • Make people mindful of problems with doing things in old ways.
  • Encourage radical decentralization--the more competent a central HQ is, the less the whole organization needs to think. :-)
Fear and Knowledge

"Driving fear out of the organization helps to encourage courageous behavior."

"People who fear their bosses not only hide bad news but may also lie about how things are going."

Measurement and Judgment

"What gets measured gets done. What is not measured tends to be ignored."

"Individual performance in an interdependent system is always difficult or impossible to measure."

Good measurement practices:

  • global in scope
  • focused more on processes and less on final outcomes
  • reflect the model, culture, and philosophy of the organization
  • a sense that the measurement system itself is in process and subject to evaluation
  • relatively few metrics

Internal Competition

"Excessive internal competition can destroy the moral fabric of many organizations."

"Copying others inside the firm is perceived to have negative career consequences."

"Pygmalion effect. When teachers believe that their students will perform well, they do."

"Competition inhibits learning and creativity." "Intellectual tasks that require learning and inventing new ways of doing things are best performed under drastically different conditions than tasks that have been done repeatedly in the past."

Turning Knowledge into Action

We can minimize the knowing-doing gap by dealing with the following factors:

  • Ask "why" before "how"
  • We learn by doing and teaching, not by talking about it. "Learning is best done by trying a lot of things."
  • Action counts more than elegant plans and concepts. 
  • There is no doing without mistakes.
  • Drive out fear. "Reasonable failure should never be received with anger."
  • Fight the competition, not each other. Cooperation is good.
  • Measure what matters.
  • It matters how leaders spend their time.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

12. How to Manage Radical Innovation (management series)

The next article is by Robert Stringer from 2000 in California Management Review, "How to Manage Radical Innovation."

1. Innovation is a Strategic Imperative

"Corporate size is inversely correlated to growth through innovation" (71).

2. Why aren't large companies more innovative?

  • Industry leaders can't afford to embrace radical innovation. They may invest in "sustaining technologies" for improved performance, but they are not well-equipped to deal with "disruptive technologies."
  • Structures and cultures discourage bringing big ideas to market. "The cultures of most large companies act as powerful stabilizing influences" (72).
  • Relying too much on internal R & D. "Industry leaders must be very careful about prematurely assuming a new technology will be the best solution and committing the company to it" (73). "If a senior executive hasn't screamed at you lately for grossly exceeding your authority, you're probably not doing your job" (relayed by Bernard Meyerson of IBM, who pushed IBM to make silicon-germanium semiconductors)
  • Large companies don't attract or retail radical innovators. "A large corporate environment is one dominated by the need for power, not the need for achievement" (74).
3. Why are small companies the source of most radical innovations?

  • "Often, the entire organization can be built around a single breakthrough concept" (74).
  • Usually there is a concentration of inventive entrepreneurs found in them.
  • Entrepreneurs are motivated by "need for accomplishment" and "achievement motivation."
Four drivers of entrepreneurs:

  • to compete against an internal standard of excellence
  • to make a unique contribution to the world
  • to engage in moderately risky activities (like 50/50 chance)
  • to receive constant, concrete, measurable feedback on performance and progress
"High achievers are planners" (75). "High achievers are not simply idea people--they are builders. They take ideas and put them to work, and this is what makes them successful as entrepreneurs" (75). Sometimes entrepreneurs, however, are poor team players.

Meanwhile, for entrepreneurs, large companies have "too many rules, too much compromise, too many meetings, and too little willingness to 'just do it.'"

4. Stimulating innovation in large companies--nine different strategies arranged from more to less potential. They're also arranged from less to more desperate.

I. Inside-Out Strategies

  • Make breakthrough innovation a strategic and cultural priority.
  • Hire more creative and innovative people.
  • Grow informal project laboratories within the traditional organization.
  • Create "idea markets" within the organization.
  • Become an "ambidextrous organization." Keep the innovators separate from the traditionalists.

II. Outside-In Strategies

  • Experiment with acquisitions, JVs, cooperative ventures and alliances with outside innovative entities.
  • Engage in corporate venturing--creating and supporting new businesses that are managed apart from a company's existing business.
III. Working with Venture Capital

  • Establish a corporate venture capital fund.
  • Participate in an emerging industry fund (EIF). This is giving money to a third party to manage toward innovation.

11. What makes a leader? (management series)

The next article in my management series is "What makes a leader?" by Daniel Goleman, a 2004 article in Business Strategy Review.

"Why should anyone be led by you?

"Leadership has much more to do with personal authenticity than an easily learned formula" (46). "Leaders need energy, a strong sense of direction and a clear vision."

Four other unexpected characteristics:

1. Strength in weakness

  • Revealing humanness can become the psychological equivalent to a Wailing Wall--something to gripe about, something that makes the leader human

2. Sensing the situation

  • Consider individuals
  • Leaders read teams.
  • Always check that perceptions are accurate before acting.

3. Concern is paramount.

4. Stress the difference.

  • Effective leaders use their differences from other leaders. (Trait theory is disproved -- good leaders do not all have the same traits.)
Four myths of leadership

1. Everyone can be a leader. (No)

2. Leaders develop business results. (Some well-led businesses do not deliver good results. Some businesses with good results are not necessarily well-led.)

3. People who get to the top are leaders. (No. Some people get to the top through politics, not good leadership. "Leaders are simply people who have followers."

4. Leaders are great coaches. (rarely)

10. How do you motivate employees (management series)

The next one in the series of HBR and other management articles is, "One More Time: How Do Motivate Employees" (2002), by Frederick Herzberg.

1. "What is the simplest, surest, and most direct way of getting someone to do something?" A kick in the... pants (KITA).

  • You can do it literally.
  • You can do it psychologically.
  • You can also give positive "KITAs" -- rewards
Other attempts at "positive" KITA:

  • reducing time spent at work
  • spiraling wages
  • fringe benefits
  • human relations training
  • sensitivity training
  • communications
  • two-way communications
  • job participation
  • employee counseling

2. How do you install a generator in an employee? 

Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory of job attitudes

  • "The factors involved in producing job satisfaction (and motivation) are separate and distinct from the factors that lead to job dissatisfaction" (91).
  • "The opposite of job satisfaction is not job dissatisfaction but, rather, no job satisfaction; and, similarly, the opposite of job dissatisfaction is not job satisfaction but no job dissatisfaction."
  • Avoidance of job dissatisfaction comes from our animal drive to avoid pain. But our drive to satisfaction comes from our drive to achievement and growth, unique to humans.
  • Motivator factors include the drive to achievement, recognition of achievement, responsibility, advancement...

KITA type things relate to avoidance of pain. In his study, 81% of the things contribution to job satisfaction were motivators. 69% of those contributing to dissatisfaction were "hygiene" or KITA type things.

3. Three philosophies of personnel management:

  • Organizational theories -- organize the jobs in a proper manner, most efficient structure, job attitudes will follow [wrong]
  • Industrial engineers -- use incentives to facilitate the most efficient use of the human machine
  • Behavioral scientists -- change the attitudes, "Proper attitudes will lead to efficient job and organizational structure" (93).
Seek for job enrichment. "Job loading" merely enlarges the meaninglessness of the job. He calls this horizontal job loading. He favors "vertical job loading," where greater authority and autonomy is given the employee.

Hawthorne effort -- people who know they are being studied sometimes change because they are being paid attention to.

Motivators have a much longer-term effect on employees attitudes.

"If you have employees on a job, use them. If you can't use them on the job, get rid of them, either via automation or by selecting someone with lesser ability."

Monday, March 08, 2021

9. Strategy and the Internet (management series)

The next article is a 2001 HBR article by Michael Porter called, "Strategy and the Internet." I am mindful that this article came out around the time of the bursting of the bubble. 

1. The internet is "an enabling strategy--a powerful set of tools that can be used wisely or unwisely, in almost any industry and as part of almost any strategy" (64).

"The key question is not whether to deploy Internet technology--companies have no choice if they want to stay competitive--but how they deploy it." The internet itself is not a competitive advantage (I might add that he is assuming a smart company will be engaged with the internet. This is a less certain assumption in the world of higher ed, I would say). "Many of the companies that succeed will be ones that use the Internet as a complement to traditional ways of competing, not those that set their Internet initiatives apart from their established operations."

With regard to the last statement, places like IWU did well in that period precisely because they cordoned off their online initiatives from traditional forces that would almost certainly have sabotaged them.

"The Internet actually makes strategy more essential than ever" (64).

2. Distorted Market Signals

"In the early stages of the rollout of any important new technology, market signals can be unreliable." "When prices are artificially low [because of leveraged buy-in, no government sales tax, etc], unit demand becomes artificially high."

By the way, Amazon has smashed this part of the article to smithereens. It was just wrong. Borders no longer exists. The CEO of Amazon is the richest person in the world.

"The sheer number of dot-coms in many industries often revealed nothing more than the existence of low barriers to entry, always a danger sign" (65).

3. A Return to Fundamentals

"Many businesses active on the Internet are artificial businesses competing by artificial means and propped up by capital that until recently had been readily available."

In transition periods, it may appear that there are new rules of competition, but as market forces play out, old rules regain their currency. "The creation of true economic value once again becomes the final arbiter of business success."

Economic value is the difference between price and cost. A company's current stock price is not necessarily an indicator of economic value. 

"In periods of heavy experimentation, even sellers of flawed technologies can thrive."

Two fundamental indicators of profitability:

  • industry structure (which indicates the profitability of the average competitor)
  • sustainable competitive advantage 

4. Industry Structure

The internet has changed the front-end of some businesses, but not so much the businesses themselves. 

The structural attractiveness of an industry is five-fold:

  • intensity of rivalry among existing competitors
  • barriers to entry for new competitors
  • threat of substitute products or services
  • bargaining power of suppliers
  • bargaining power of buyers
The very benefits of the internet make it more difficult for companies to capture those benefits as profit.

5. The Myth of the First Mover

He argues that switching costs (the cost of switching from one service provider to another) did not go up with the internet. He argues that network effects (accumulating a customer base because of combined services) have not made getting on the internet first important. Partnering is not a win-win means to improve industry economics (e.g., product complements, outsourcing).

6. The Future of Competition 

"The most important determinant of a marketplace's profit potential is the intrinsic power of the buyers and sellers in the particular product area."

A competitive advantage can be achieved by a lower cost, commanding a premium price, or both. Cost and price advantages can be achieved in two ways--operational effectiveness or strategic positioning. Porter thinks that operational effectiveness will rarely provide a big advantage in the internet age.

7. Six fundamental principles of strategic positioning

  • have the right goal -- superior return on long-term investment
  • must deliver a value proposition
  • must deliver something distinctive
  • robust strategies involve trade offs. "Trying to be all things to all customers almost guarantees that a company will lack any advantage" (71).
  • strategy makes sure everything fits together
  • Strategy involves continuity of direction. "Frequent corporate re-invention... is usually a sign of poor strategic thinking."
8. Lack of Strategy

Acquisition of customers is not the same as the building of profitability.

I will say I think history has proven some of this article wrong, although it has many helpful features. A company like Merrill Lynch wouldn't stand a chance without online options. CDs don't exist any more. Take this ridiculous comment: "Online music distribution may reduce the need for CD-manufacturing assets." You think? Blockbuster is long gone. And Grainger is currently in major jeopardy from Amazon Business. I also smile at how often he compliments AOL. Who?

9. The Internet and the Value Chain

"The Internet does not represent a break from the past; rather it is the latest stage in the ongoing evolution of information technology" (74).

evolution of IT:

  • automation of discrete transactions (entry)
  • functional enhancement of individual activities (hr, sales...)
  • cross-activity integration (CRM, SCM, ERP)
  • entire system integration
  • integrated product development

Virtual activities do not replace the need for physical activities:

  • "Introducing Internet applications in one activity often places greater demands on physical activities elsewhere."
  • "Using the Internet in one activity can have systemic consequences, requiring new or enhanced physical activities that are often unanticipated."
  • "Most Internet activities have shortcomings in comparison with conventional methods."

He doesn't see the internet as a new economy but an old economy that has access to new technology.


7. Leading by Leveraging Culture (management series)

By Jennifer Chatman and Sandra Cha in California Review Management (2004)

1. Why do CEOs fail? A 1999 Fortune magazine article suggested it was because they were unable to fully implement their strategy. The focus shifts from strategy formation to strategy execution... "and culture is all about execution" (21).

"Culture is a system of shared values (defining what is important) and norms (defining appropriate attitudes and behaviors)." This shared culture energizes employees and shapes behavior. "A culture cannot be crafted until an organization has first developed its business strategy."

"The first criterion for using culture as a leadership tool is that it must be strategically relevant."

2. Norms are the psychological basis of culture. They are distinct from rules, which are formal. "The concept of norms implies social control" (22). "Relying on formal rules, policies, and procedures will not result in outstanding anything, be it customer service, innovation, or quality." Outstanding service is not determined by normal situations but by how you are treated in nearly impossible to anticipate, unique to a person situations that are difficult to solve.

"The less formal direction you give employees about how to execute strategy, the more ownership they take over their actions and the better they perform" (23).

"Violations are considered in terms of letting their colleagues down rather than breaking rules."

3. "The second criterion for using culture as a leadership tool is that it be strong."

Strong cultures have two characteristics: high levels of agreement among employees about what's valued and high levels of intensity about these values.

  • Warring factions have the intensity but not the agreement.
  • Vacuous cultures agree on what's important but don't much care about seeing it done.

"Firms that developed a strong, strategically appropriate culture performed effectively over the long run only if their culture also contained norms and values that promoted innovation and change."

"Expressing a creative idea is... risky—since a person suggesting one can end up being perceived as unintelligent." 

"Leaders also promote innovation by creating a shared belief that team members are safe to take interpersonal risks" (25).

4. The third criterion is that "leaders must move quickly to implement promising ideas."

"Developing a culture that encourages employees to express creative ideas may cause good ideas to crop up from unexpected places... More importantly, once managers spot a good idea, norms that emphasize urgency and speed will ensure its implementation."

5. Three key managerial tools for using culture as a leadership tool:

a. Recruit and select people for culture fit.

  • "It makes sense to hire people who will fit the culture, possibly even trading off some immediate skills necessary for the specific entry job for better culture fit."
  • Be mindful of recruiters hiring just people like them. similarity-attraction effect
  • Shape the selection process accordingly.

b. Manage culture through socialization and training.

c. Manage culture through a reward system.

6. Actor-observer bias is the human tendency to interpret one's owns actions generously and to explain the actions of others unsympathetically.

"To succeed, leaders must instill their employees with confidence and clarity about key cultural values. If they do not, employees will provide their own explanations."

7. The three Cs of culture:

  • clear, consistent, comprehensive

Sunday, March 07, 2021

6. Deep Change (management series)

The next article in the Management series is called, "Deep Change: How Operational Innovation Can Transform Your Company," by Michael Hammer. It is a 2004 HBR article.

1. The article uses Progressive in the last decade of the twentieth century as a model for operational innovation. They beat their competition by lower prices and better service. "Operational innovation means coming up with entirely new ways of filling orders, developing products, providing customer service, or doing any other activity that an enterprise performs" (86). It's not operational improvement or operational excellence.

Cross-docking by Wal-Mart is an example. Goods go from truck to truck and never even enter a warehouse. Progressive did it through Immediate Response. Perhaps less than 10% of large enterprises have made a serious effort at it.

2. There are strategic benefits to operational innovation -- retain customers, greater market share. There are marketplace benefits -- lower prices, higher satisfaction. There are operational benefits -- lower direct costs, faster cycle time...

"The only way to get and stay ahead of competitors is by executing in a totally different way -- that is, through operational innovation" (88).

"Operational innovation is by nature disruptive, so it should be concentrated in those activities with the greatest impact on an enterprise's strategic goals."

Business culture tends to undervalue operations. Operations are out of sight. Nobody owns it.  

Examples of technologically based operational improvement:

  • ERPs -- enterprise resource planning
  • CRMs -- customer relationship management
  • SCMs -- supply chain management
3. How to do it?

  • Look for role models outside your industry.
  • Identify and defy a constraining assumption. "At its heart, every operational innovation defies an assumption about how work should be done" (91). "Zero in on the assumption that interferes with achieving a strategic goal, and then figure out how to get rid of it."
  • Make the special case into the norm. 
  • Rethink critical dimensions of work. There are seven areas involved: 1) what results are to be produced, 2) who will do the activities, 3) where and 4) when will they be performed, 5) whether each activity should be performed in each case, 6) what information should be available to whom, and 7) how thoroughly should each activity be performed.
Traditional implementation strategies don't work with disruptive modes of operation. It is also impossible to get everything right from the beginning. "Only when a concept is actually tried does one learn what it should really have been in the first place" (92). An iterative (evolutionary/spiral) process may be necessary.

4. "Operational innovation is a step change. It moves a company to an entirely new level" (92). These sorts of innovations have staying power. Many won't innovate even when they see your good idea. And while some are catching up, you will be improving your innovation. 

5. The Discipline of Teams (management series)

1. The third of ten business articles is called "The Discipline of Teams," a 1993 HBR article. One of the key questions of this article is why some teams perform and others do not. "There is a basic discipline that makes teams work. We also found that teams and good performance are inseparable; you cannot have one without the other" (112).

Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith are quite particular about what they identify as a team. It is not just any working group to them. Teams require mutual accountability--they are synergistic units of performance that are greater than the sum of their parts.

"A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable" (112).

"Most successful teams shape their purposes in response to a demand or opportunity put in their path, usually by higher management."

2. A first step is to translate mandates into performance goals.

  • Specific performance goals helps to define a set of products to be worked toward and achieved.
  • They facilitate communication and constructive conflict within the team.
  • provides focus toward results
  • "The combination of purpose and specific goals is essential to performance" (114). "Goals help a team keep track of progress, while a broader purpose supplies meaning and emotional energy."
3. A team should be of an appropriate size. Less than 10 is probably optimal. [As an aside, Keith Drury used to say that if there were more than 6 people in the room, the decision was being made elsewhere."]

Teams should have the right mix of skills. There are three key skill areas:

  • technical or functional expertise
  • problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • interpersonal skills
Skill potential can be as important as existing skill.

4. Mutual accountability is essential. "No group ever becomes a team until it can hold itself accountable" (116). Commitment and trust are also essential.

5. Three kinds of teams:

  • Teams that recommend things. Two critical aspects -- getting a good start and the hand off after a recommendation is formed. The first requires clarity in the charge. The last often involves re-engagement by the management that gave the charge.
  • Teams that make or do things. The team option makes sense at the place where the cost and value of the company's products and services are most diretly determined. A relentless focus on performance is imperative.
  • Teams that run things. Remember, a team needs specific performance goals. A top level reporting group is not a team unless it is working toward specific goals that are more distinct than the overall mission of the organization.
6. Successful teams:

  • Establish urgency, performance standards, and direction
  • Pay special attention to first meetings and actions
  • Have clear rules of behavior
  • Have a few immediate performance goals
  • Challenge each other regularly with new facts and information
  • Spend lots of time together
  • Give positive feedback

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

4. "God's Gift to Man" (book review)

 I have been reading Kristin Kobes du Mez's Jesus and John Wayne. Thus far:

This week we are on to chapter 3: "God's Gift to Man."

1. Much of this chapter was disturbing to me, especially as a Wesleyan. It starts telling of Marabel Morgan in 1970 writing on how the wife is basically to be a sex slave for husbands with hyper-inferiority complexes. Sheez. "Treat your husband like a king, revere him, and cater to his every need." Stepford wives stuff.

The Total Woman hit at the beginning of the Christian book store/sellers boom. It wasn't just the book. It was the distribution. 

I think most modern women would shake their head at this material, even those who are complementarians. The goal post moves, and we don't realize that we sit in the same place of people from earlier times whose thinking we would now soundly reject.

2. Elizabeth Elliott hits at this point too. Her book in 1976 was Let Me Be a Woman. It gave advice to her daughter drenched in stereotypes and subservience. "The very notion of hierarchy came from the Bible... Equality was 'not a Christian ideal'" (65). "You marry a sinner." 

In other words, he gets a pass. You get to dress up in Saran Wrap.

It's easy to see the trajectory of this line of thinking. They take gender roles and put them at the center of the gospel. In my view, the center of the gospel in this area is Galatians 3:28--"In Christ there is not male and female." The uniqueness of the Bible in this area is the empowerment of women, not the hierarchy of the ancient world.

3. I say it every time I teach Bible survey courses. There is nothing uniquely Christian or Israelite about the patriarchal culture in Scripture. When Colossians tells wives to submit to their husbands, it is saying little different from Aristotle's Politics 400 years earlier. It is when the Bible works against this grain that it is uniquely revelatory. 

This is an important hermeneutical point. The fact that Revelation thinks the earth is flat or that Paul thought God was in a third layer of sky straight up or that Genesis 1 thinks that God put stars in a dome holding back the waters above the firmament, these scriptures are operating within the thought frameworks of their day. The frameworks are the clothing in which the revelation comes. It is not the revelation itself.

It is the same when we see patriarchal hierarchies in Scripture. There is nothing uniquely Christian there. It is rather when Scripture pushes against these cultural norms that we have unique Christian revelation. It is when sons and daughters prophesy. It is when Deborah is the highest political leader of Israel or Huldah is the highest spiritual authority.

The problem with this whole gender role craze is that it mistakes ancient culture for timeless principle. It is the Amish fallacy. It says, "The abusive sexists of ancient times were the way God wants it to be forever." It makes Christianity no better than the inferior, sinful aspects of cultures 2000-4000 years ago.

4. But the most powerful figure was Phyllis Schafly, who recently passed. She probably singlehandedly kept the Equal Rights Amendment from passing (ERA). It was indeed an insidious proposed amendment to the Constitution: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

What a fiendish, Devilish amendment! Before you know it, liberals will be making unisex bathrooms and, as one legislator said, "I ain't going to have my wife be in the bathroom with some big, black buck!" "That anti-ERA rhetoric focusing on the vulnerability of women found expression in racist terms is not altogether surprising" (71). "The ERA was the first issue conservatives rallied around after they lost the legal battle for segregation" (70). 

In an irrational concoction, to be in favor of feminism is to be a communist is to be against national security. It's all so blurred together that we can't tell the difference between our conservatism and our Christianity. "The ERA took on a symbolic quality, encompassing a larger moral and existential threat to women, and to the nation. Any careful rebuttals or explanations that the ERA's proponents offered fell flat among antiratificationists" (69).

Of course, I would say that there is nothing particularly Christian here. Schafly herself, like Rush Limbaugh, was really more of a conservative political figure than a religious one. "Conservative Christian anti-feminism in the 1970s was intimately connected to a larger set of political issues--to anticommunism, Christian nationalism, and militarism" (70).  

5. So while American culture was becoming more like the kingdom, where women neither marry nor are given in marriage, conservatism did what it did during the abolitionist movement. It opposed the movement of God. Complementarians mistook the consequences of the Fall for God's divine plan. When God was redeeming women from the sins of Eve, conservatives institutionalized them.

It is a confusion of the earthly for the heavenly. There is no distinction in the spirit of male and female to suggest only men can speak with spiritual authority. And in the Bible women speak with that authority. There is no difference in intelligence between male and female to where only men can teach or lead. And in the Bible women teach and lead.

The trajectory of "family values" that drew sharp lines between the roles of men and women was never sanctified. It was always cultural. It was always wrong-headed and wrong-spirited. It was always a predictable backlash that had nothing to do with God. Unfortunately, it has only intensified and hardened in conservative Christian culture over the years, with the result that those pushed along by that wave can't hardly even tell what true Christian values are.