Effective Teams, Leadership, Strategy

There is a labor shortage. What will you do?

EMSI recently published “The Demographic Drought: How the approaching sansdemic will transform the labor market for the rest of our lives?” This fascinating report details the decline of the US labor market and provides some recommendations for organizations. EMSI breaks down the word “sansdemic” meaning “sans-without, demic-people.” This reports states:

“A talent deficit of over 6 million Americans within the next seven years threatens not just colleges and companies but our common way of life. Losing people means losing many of the goods and services and standards of living we have grown to expect.” (p. 39)

The reasons for this decline in available labor includes:

  • Lower birth rates
  • Retiring baby boomers
  • Low labor participation of prime-age Americans

EMSI concluded the report with: “Every student, every employee, every potential employee is valuable” (p. 39). 

What can organizations do to address the growing labor shortage? 

  • Employee retention should be a key strategy for all organizations. How is your organization intentionally working to retain employees?
  • Provide flexible schedules for employees. Many baby boomers are interested in working, but they do not want a full time commitment. Younger members of the workforce are also interested in flexible, part time schedules. How can your organization accommodate the desire for flexibility? 
  • Offer parental leave and benefit programs for new parents. What benefits are offered by your organization to new parents? 
  • Utilize technology and automation to maximize efficiency and reduce the number of employees needed. What jobs can be filled by artificial intelligence, automation, and technology? 
  • Evaluate low wage positions. It is possible that the labor shortage will cause companies to raise wages or reconsider staffing arrangements. 
  • Embrace diversity, equity and inclusion by expanding the pool for potential employees. Are there demographics your organization should consider targeting for recruitment?
  • Invest in your current workforce by providing training that will allow employees to move into new roles. What partnerships are available with higher education and external consultants to improve job skills?

After writing an initial draft of the blog, I shared the above suggestions with some business leaders. Both leaders emphasized the importance of a positive company culture and their focus on employees. 

Andy Niemeier is the Co-CEO of Azzip Pizza, a growing chain of fast casual pizza restaurants with ten locations. Azzip’s turnover rate in last year was 72% compared to the industry average of 131%. Andy said, “We view this as a strong sign of the strength of our employer brand if we are able to retain employees at almost twice the levels of our peers.” 

In their 2020 employee survey, team members were asked “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend Azzip Pizza as an employer to a friend?” Nearly 90% of employees responded with a ‘7’ or higher with ‘10’ being the highest response (53%). That seems unusually high for the food service industry. Andy explained, “I think an employer brand is incredibly powerful. What are you known for as an employer? What are people telling others about what it’s like to work at Azzip? Do former employees speak well about their time at Azzip? A strong employer brand also translates over into a strong consumer brand (and vice-versa!).”

Matthew Nix is the President of Nix Companies, a growing group of small businesses combined to form a diversified metal solutions provider offering industrial products, manufacturing, and maintenance contracting. Nix Companies has recently been recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work in Indiana.” Matthew emphasizes the importance of focusing on employees and building a culture. He shared, “Our early decision to focus on our people and our culture will prove ever more valuable throughout the remainder of our careers.” 

In a recent article titled “The myth of labor shortages,” Leonhardt (2021) writes “companies have an easy way to solve the problem: Pay more.” This strategy may help encourage prime-age Americans to enter the workforce, but I doubt that only increasing wages will be enough. This problem is complex and multi-faceted. I recommend employers consider the recommendations in this blog. In addition, they should focus on listening to and learning from the experiences of current and former employees. 

How is your organization preparing for the labor shortage? What will you do in the coming year to ensure you have a skilled and talented workforce? We can help your organization invest in the workforce through leadership training and coaching programs. In addition, we can help facilitate a plan for enhanced employee engagement and retention. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us

References

EMSI. (2021). The demographic drought: How the approaching sansdemic will transform the labor market for the rest of our lives. 

Leonhardt, D. (2021, May 20). The myth of labor shortages. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/20/briefing/labor-shortages-covid-wages.html

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

Is there enough urgency to change?

Change is hard. I am amazed by the number of people and organizations who can intellectually grasp the importance of change, but they cannot execute it. I have read about statistics about the small percentage of people who change their lifestyle (diet, exercise, smoking) after having a heart attack. They must intellectually understand the negative implications of their lifestyle, but they cannot bring themselves to change even when the consequences include another heart attack or death.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are plenty of examples of organizations that have been unable to adapt. I live in Evansville, Indiana, and Family Video just announced they would be closing all stores. This video store outlasted Blockbuster and Hollywood Video by years. However, I have to think they saw the writing on the wall years ago. Video stores have been dying for years, especially as streaming services have grown in popularity.

I was recently in a debate about the future of movie theaters. Unless movie theaters distinguish themselves, they will also die. Many of us forget that movie theaters became popular nearly fifty years before the general public started getting televisions in their homes. As TVs, sound systems, and streaming services continue to improve, it becomes harder to justify spending the money on movie tickets and concessions.

When leaders look to create change, they must first create an urgency to change. They need to consider how they can instill a sense of urgency in those around them. Most people and organizations will not change for the sake of change.

In John Kotter’s classic change management book Leading Change (2012), he identifies the first step of change is “Establishing a Sense of Urgency.” Kotter writes, “Increasing urgency demands that you remove sources of complacency or minimize their impact: for instance, eliminating such signs of excess as a big corporate air force; setting higher standards both formally in the planning process and informally in day-to-day interaction, changing internal measurement systems that focus on the wrong indexes; vastly increasing the amount of external performance feedback everyone gets; rewarding both honest talk in meetings and people who are willing to confront problems; and stopping baseless happy talk from the top.” (pp. 44-45)

The COVID-19 pandemic created urgency for many organizations to change. They understood their short and long term survival was dependent on their ability to change. Examples of changes that have occurred include virtual meetings, remote work, churches live streaming services, restaurants adding curbside pick up, and contactless delivery. Many organizations had considered these changes but never felt urgency to implement them.

How is your organization responding to change? Does your organization experience the urgency necessary to change? If not, how can your organization remove complacency that prevents necessary change to occur?

If you are interested in learning more about how we can help your organization, please contact us.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

Innovation and preparing for post-pandemic life

As organizations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, our clients regularly discuss the importance of encouraging innovative thinking and building effective teams. I am encouraged by the rapid development of vaccines and think life may feel more “normal” as we progress through 2021. Our organizations have seen many changes over the last several months. Most of us have embraced technology in ways that we would not have imagined at the beginning of 2020. 

As we discuss pressing needs with our current and prospective clients, we are hearing some similar themes. Organizations are looking to:

  1. Develop a more cohesive team in this remote work environment.
  2. Encourage innovative thinking among individuals and the team.
  3. Develop individuals’ appreciation and understanding of team member differences.
  4. Introduce a common vocabulary that fosters more creative and collaborative thinking. 
  5. Prepare for conducting business post-COVID.

I previously wrote a blog titled “Encouraging a more innovative culture” that will provide ideas for applying in your organization.

We’re excited to offer a two hour virtual Creative Thinking Boot Camp that helps teams build individual and collective abilities to think creatively and work collaboratively. This is one of our most popular introductory offerings and has been used by a wide variety of organizations to build more creative, collaborative, and effective teams. 

The Two Hour Boot Camp is offered through a highly interactive and engaging online Zoom workshop. We’ve all attended many boring webinars, but this workshop includes hands on exercises, discussions, and small group activities. It has been well received by businesses, nonprofits, churches, and schools. 

Participants learn about why innovation is so important now, divergent and convergent thinking, what hinders creativity and innovation, and characteristics of effective and innovative teams. In advance of the workshop, participants will complete the Basadur Profile which is used to help them understand how they and those around them approach creativity and problem solving. At the end of the workshop, participants will discuss how they can apply these skills within their organization.

We are scheduling Creative Thinking Boot Camps right now. This is an important time to start post-pandemic planning. Please contact us for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Strategy

Strategic planning during uncertainty

Most organizations recognize the importance of long term planning. However, some organizations get caught up in what the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling describe as the “whirlwind” which is “made up of urgencies that consume your time and energy” (p. 7). As I have discussed strategic planning with current and prospective clients in recent months, many are struggling to plan when there is so much uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Photo by Airam Vargas on Pexels.com

When I first became involved with strategic planning processes, I was introduced to the classic Jim Collins and Jerry Porras article “Building Your Company’s Vision” which was published in the Harvard Business Review in 1996. This article remains a classic strategy article and is included in HBR’s 10 Must Reads in Strategy. The authors discuss how successful organizations set a 10-30 year “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.” I don’t know about you, but setting a 10-30 year goal during this time of uncertainty seems daunting and perhaps a bit unrealistic. 

Unfortunately, the current uncertainty has led many organizations to maintain the status quo and get caught up in the “whirlwind” instead of strategically planning for the future. For those organizations struggling with strategic thinking, I encourage them to consider the following approaches as variations to traditional strategic planning processes:

  1. The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) identifies four disciplines that help organizations develop strategy and improve execution of strategy. To avoid having too broad of a focus, 4DX encourages organizations to focus on a single “Wildly Important Goal” or “WIG.” All individuals and teams within the organization align their efforts with the WIG by “acting on lead measures.” Lead measures are behaviors that are directly tied to the WIG. A “compelling scoreboard” is created to track success. “A cadence of accountability” is established through brief weekly “WIG sessions” that review progress and make commitments for the upcoming week. This intense focus can really help an organization set a vision for the future, and implement it, and regularly review progress. 
  1. A strategy screen helps organizations identify criteria for making decisions. In his book The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution, David LaPiana writes: “The Strategy Screen is not a rigid framework. Its value is in making your decision-making criteria explicit” (p. 66). Organizations can spend time developing a strategy screen by reflecting on why the organization exists, what it values, and what is feasible. LaPiana (2018) suggests all strategy screens have criteria related to how well the strategy is consistent with the organization’s mission and will “build on or reinforce our competitive advantage” (p. 64). Other examples might include: Will this strategy become profitable within one year? Is this strategy consistent with our organization’s values? A strategy screen can be created now, and developing this criteria in advance of strategic decisions can be beneficial for all organizations. 
  1. Scenario planning helps organize plan for uncertainty, and this process can be particularly valuable while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Belinda Lyons-Newman (2020) identifies four steps for scenario planning: (1) “Identify external uncertainties,” (2) “Identify internal uncertainties,” (3) “Explore multiple, alternative futures,” and (4) “Assess the scenarios using a strategy screen.” This process helps identify “what if” scenarios, develops a plan for responding to them, and clarifies criteria for making decisions. Scenario planning can be particularly valuable for industries that are experiencing significant disruption and uncertainty. 

There are numerous approaches to strategic planning, and this article is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of approaches. If you are interested in learning more about strategy, I encourage you to spend some time reading the articles and books that I have written about. One thing is certain: we can’t afford to wait around until things become “normal” again to think strategically and plan for long term success. 

We facilitate planning processes with a wide range of organizations and customize processes to meet their organizational needs. Planning processes can be facilitated in person or virtually. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you plan for future success, please contact us

References:

Collins, J., & Porras, J.I. (1996, September-October). “Building Your Company’s Vision.” Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/1996/09/building-your-companys-vision#:~:text=Vision%20provides%20guidance%20about%20what,core%20ideology%20and%20envisioned%20future.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads in Strategy. (2011). Harvard Business Review. 

LaPiana, D., & Campos, M.M. (2018). The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution (2nd Ed.). Turner. 

McChesney, C., Huling, J., & Covey, S. (2015). The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Simon & Schuster. 

Lyons-Newman, B. (2020, May 8). “Scenario Planning: Rapid Planning in a Time of Rapid Change.” Retrieved from: https://blog.boardsource.org/blog/scenario-planning-rapid-planning-in-a-time-of-rapid-change?_ga=2.216094229.241316251.1595867701-1637645238.1574390002

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Are you ready to learn how we can help you plan for future organizational success?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) Certified Practitioner.

Strategy

A simple tool for strategic growth

I was recently working with a group of religious leaders who are trying to decide how their congregations should move forward in light of the challenges caused by COVID-19. They are used to in person services, educational programs, and community building events. Unfortunately, opportunities to bring people together in person will be limited for an extended period of time. 

Ansoff Matrix - Wikipedia
(From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansoff_Matrix)

I introduced them to the Ansoff Matrix which is a tool developed by Igor Ansoff that can be used to explore opportunities for organizational growth. On the left side, the existing market (or customers) are on the bottom and new markets on top. On the bottom row, there are existing products and services on the left and new products/services on the right.

The bottom left box (Market Penetration) focuses on existing markets and products/services. Focusing on this box can result in growth through increasing market share or penetration. The top left box (Market Development) focuses on growth through existing products but new market(s).

By focusing on the bottom right box (Product Development), we strive for growth through existing markets with new products/services. The top right box (Diversification) focuses on new markets and new products/services. It is important to note that risk increases as one moves up or to the right of the matrix with the top right box having the most risk.

I encourage organizations to complete the Ansoff Matrix through divergent and convergent thinking. They can begin by individually or collectively generating opportunities for growth in each box of the matrix. After the team divergently identifies possibilities, they can converge by discussing the most promising opportunities. Here are examples of possible discussions that can take place for each box:

Bottom left (Market Penetration):

  1. Begin by discussing existing market (customers)
  2. How might we sell to more people like our existing customers?
  3. How might we encourage existing customers to use more of our existing products or services?

Top left (Market Development):

  1. What demographic groups are not existing customers?
  2. How might we identify new market segments that could benefit from our existing products or services? 
  3. How might we market our products or services to appeal to different demographics than our existing customers?

Bottom right (Product Development):

  1. How might we add value to our existing customers through new products or services?
  2. Are there related products or services that our customers could benefit from?

Top right (Diversification):

  1. How might we adapt to changing trends in society?
  2. Are there new opportunities that we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on?

The Ansoff Matrix is not perfect. When looking at new opportunities for growth, organizations need to consider factors such as competition, organizational strengths, and assets. A common strategy for growth today is a merger or acquisition, and it is possible that a merger or acquisition may help accelerate market penetration, new markets, new products, and/or diversification. 

The Ansoff Growth Matrix is one of many tools that can be used for developing strategy. We work with a wide variety of organizations to develop strategy for future success and growth. There are many approaches to successful strategic planning processes, and it is important to customize a process that best meets your organization’s needs. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help your organization develop a strategic planning process, please contact us

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.