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The Navigator
Charting a Path to Leadership Excellence
Volume: # 11August/September 2011

President's Message


This month I'd like to reflect on some lessons learned from a recent strategic leadership development program OSI helped launch in early August. This was a five day complete business model simulation that provided personal diagnosis and feedback. Reaction to the program was very positive (across 30 participants who represented senior leadership roles, the program received a 4.8 on a 5 point scale in terms of perceived value) and the program elements that contributed most to that perceived value were:

  1. Top organizational leaders on faculty. By far, the best reaction to this program was having the CEO, CFO, Chief Branding Officer, and Chief Operator actually teach strategy, finance, marketing, and operations. Not only were these leaders THE content experts, but they could field specific questions on the organization's strategy, financial reporting, branding/marketing strategy and operational issues. Using leaders as facilitators also has the potential to be a catalyst for potential positive change as the leadership team reacts to questions and comments from participants. Previous programs have actually seen major organizational shifts occur as a result of this dialogue.
  2. Use of a complete business model simulation. This shouldn't surprise any learning professional, but teaching competence, a full business context, and using a simulation to provide direct feedback on performance, is also not only engaging but very productive in creating knowledge and skill gain. This program blended a large scale behavioral simulation that emulated the actual interpersonal dynamics of a leadership team with a custom computer model to provide realistic business feedback (finance, operations, and market/customer) over a strategic arc of seven years. This was extremely challenging but extremely rewarding when teams mastered it.
  3. Personal diagnosis and feedback. Another highly rated program feature was a combination of a custom 360 with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to diagnose personal leadership strengths and developmental opportunities coupled with a personal coaching session. During the actual workshop participants solicited peer feedback in areas of opportunity.

Of course program reaction only sets the stage for more robust longitudinal evaluation of individual and organizational impact, but all of these elements do provide the commitment and baseline data for structured follow-up. Of course, transfer of training is contingent upon managerial support of the learning solution, and when those managers serve on faculty that transfer is more likely.


In closing, I'd like to add that I'm looking forward to visiting with many of you at next month's Midwest Forum on Talent Management in Madison, Wisconsin.

 Bruce Griffiths  


Bruce's signature


   Bruce Griffiths

Best Practices in Management: Rethinking Strategy

The New Strategic Normal
By Bruce Griffiths and Bob Power
This month, the featured article in The Navigator is the last in our three-part series on Best Practices in Management: Rethinking Strategy. In this edition we're going to focus on "The New Strategic Normal."  Last issue's installment, "Ideas and Execution", explored the importance of both generating ideas and executing the strategy.


Any legitimate strategic planning process includes a scan to look at all external issues that will likely have an impact on the organization. As we look at the strategic concerns that define the "new normal" for all strategic leaders, let's remember that each of these is both a threat and an opportunity.


Global resource challenges (e.g., water, oil, and regulatory oversight to ensure green operations) will have a growing impact. It is inescapable: We're facing ecological challenges that demand more sustainable systems.


Some organizations have embraced this shift. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt has coined the catch phrase "green is green" to present sustainability as a business opportunity. Some still resist, but the trend is inexorable. Leaders need to consider implementing green vehicle fleets, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)- certified buildings (as Life EMS in Kalamazoo, Michigan recently did), and similar sustainable systems.


Demographic Shifts
In the U.S., we face dramatic shifts in the work force as Boomers age and retire and Echo Boomers (aka Millennials) replace them - with a different mind-set. In Europe and Japan, shrinking populations threaten growth and argue for more liberal immigration policies. The emerging economies of India and China face one-child policies, education challenges and growing socio-economic rifts that shape the labor pool.


Leaders must adjust to new labor sources or new work alternatives (e.g., job-sharing, telecommuting, etc. - though this obviously applies to office, rather than field staff). In the U.S., the 80 million Millennials entering the work force have different expectations regarding education and global awareness, an altered (some might argue reduced) trust in institutions and a priority of people over possessions. Leaders must change how their organizations engage and motivate these new members. Classic top-down leadership styles and organizational designs must be re-examined and reworked.


Information/Communication Technology

We live in a constant stream of new devices and changing web technologies that touch every facet of our lives. This means organizations must stay current to stay productive.


This democratization of information, instant access to others through smart devices, social networking, and rapidly evolving technologies all demand a constant global and technical perspective from leaders. For example, if Twitter is the new CNN, how will public safety organizations leverage this reality? How do leaders take advantage of social networks for funding, recruiting, and public service announcements?


As New York Times correspondent Thomas Friedman notes, the world is flat - and it's information and communications technology that leveled it!



Whether you work in the public or private sector, the shrinking world transports products, people, and problems more easily and quickly than at any other time in recorded history. This accelerating transnational exchange has implications not just for commerce (e.g., labor, supply chain, emerging markets, etc.) but a host of other issues, including health and disease, culture clashes and innovation diffusion. Leaders must be alert beyond their borders to stay informed and relevant.


Shrinking Public Resources/Balanced Budget Imperatives

Especially in North America and the European Union, the funds available for public use will shrink as the tax base gets smaller. Even public safety programs will face cutbacks. While it remains to be seen if the great recession of 2008/2009 has resulted in a lasting re-set of consumer habits, it is clear that the resulting deficits have had a profound impact on the communal psyche. A growing distrust of government, together with a need to trim deficits and balance budgets, will make funding for all public entities more challenging going forward. Being more operationally efficient and more creative in funding will be daily imperatives. This new economic reality will also demand more collaboration and creativity in defining an ddelivering services.



The Chinese saying, "May you live in interesting times" is seen as a blessing or a curse. The best leaders will see these strategic issues as opportunities and be thankful they live in very interesting times!



Copyright 2011, Organization Systems International, San Diego, CA, USA

Polaris Users' Group Conference

We are pleased to announce that OSI will be conducting its first

Polaris Users' Group Conference this September. This will be a great opportunity for users of Polaris to network, share ideas and questions, and learn about industry trends. Topics to be covered will include:
  • New research regarding the Polaris 360 and rater/rating trends. 
  • Discussion of the BIG SIX Polaris competencies that explain most of the variance in first line and middle management performance. 
  • Trends in competency modeling and competencies. 
  • Additional talent management topics, such as: Performance Management, Selection/Promotion/Succession Management, and Learning & Development as chosen by Polaris users.

The conference will be hosted by Bruce Griffiths, president of OSI, and will precede the Midwest Forum on Talent Management in Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday, September 15, 2011. We are looking to continuously add content to this conference to ensure we address all topics/questions/concerns that the Polaris community has, so please feel free to send any added topics you would like covered in the conference to Naomi Barbre (nbarbre@orgsysint.com). For more information and to register, click here.

Midwest Forum on Talent Management
On Friday, September 16th, OSI will once again partner with Loichinger Advantage to hold the second annual Midwest Forum on Talent Management in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin. This year's keynote speaker will be Marc Effron, founder of the New Talent Management Network and author of One Page Talent Management. The Forum will include a variety of presentations designed for today's Human Resources, Organizational Development, Learning & Development and Performance Excellence professionals. American Family Insurance's state-of the art conference facilities will provide a comfortable venue for a day of professional development and networking with colleagues. Registration and more details are available at www.midwestforum-tm.com.  
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President's Message
Rethinking Strategy: The New Strategic Normal
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OSI 30 Years
At Organization Systems International, we are celebrating 30 years of quality, service, and innovation. We deliver client success with a high-performance approach designed to enhance occupational relationships, improve operational efficiency, and sustain customer relationships.


OSI Clients Include:

American Greetings 
Blizzard Entertainment
Bowling Green State University
Dow Corning Corp.
GE Capital
Insurance Company of the West
Limited Brands
Nike, Inc.
Northwest Pipe
Portland State University
Schneider Trucking Company
Standard Insurance Company
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
State Auto Insurance
The Walt Disney Company
Wendy's International Inc.