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Short and snackable insights on talent management, organizational design, agility, culture, change management, HR analytics and technology, leadership, and merger management from our experienced partners at the forefront of today’s trends.

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How to develop soft skills

As automation and artificial intelligence dramatically change the nature of work, employees must fine tune the social and emotional abilities machines cannot master. To encourage this behavior, employers must adjust the ways they assess, educate, train and reward their workforce on soft skills such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking. Our previous post demonstrated the value of developing and rewarding soft skills, considering the impact of automation and AI on the workplace of ...

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Are hard and soft skills rewarded equally?

With the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, businesses across sectors are becoming automated. A McKinsey Global survey found that 80 percent of organizations surveyed have begun a digital transformation in the past five years. Whether a steel mill beginning to monitor operations using AI, or a retail bank shifting a number of operations to its revamped website, the imperative to become a digital organization is ever present. In fact, as many as half of current work activities ...

Mobilize your organization with a powerful change story

Imagine your company has set an ambitious aspiration and conducted an assessment of the organization’s performance—what an enterprise does to deliver improved results for its stakeholders in financial and operational terms—and health—how effectively an organization works together in pursuit of its performance aspirations. So how do you use these insights to mobilize the whole enterprise, from senior management to frontline employees? As the chief human resources officer ...

Stop playing “Whac-a-mole” with behavior change

It’s a fairly typical scenario: An organization is in the midst of a large-scale change. The management invests intensive time and resources to develop protocols and programs to support their new direction. In the beginning, these efforts work; KPIs may even increase. But before long, old behaviors begin to pop up and progress toward the new direction slows down. In this way, driving behavioral change can be like a game of “Whac-a-mole” in an arcade. You implement programs that ...

Do your employees struggle with these three common roadblocks?

A global technology company faced a common challenge: How do we get our newly hired sales-reps up to speed more quickly? Leadership had tried seemingly everything – including recently rolling out a global sales playbook – so why were first-year outcomes still so inconsistent? When the organization dug into the data, they couldn’t find one single answer. Instead, they found three. One group of employees, it turned out, was highly motivated, but took longer to acquire skills and ...

Organizations do not change. People change!

Albert Einstein once famously remarked, “Today’s problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them.” Consider the example of a Latin American consumer goods manufacturer under pressure to change its performance after not having performed well for several quarters. Due to urgency, the chief transformation officer went off to set more stretched targets and created a weekly governance to review performance initiatives with more rigor. Yes, people worked ...

Back to the not-so-basics of managing change

A medical device company undertook a large transformation that included integrating several business units to create one unified organization and culture. This was no small feat; at any given moment, the team, like many teams, had 100 or so projects running to execute the integration. Managing change in these situations often feels extremely difficult, if not impossible. With thousands of employees and multiple rounds of simultaneous changes, how can top teams ensure everyone is adopting the new ...

The new roles of leaders in 21st century organizations

As we’ve discussed extensively, agile organizations operate in fundamentally different ways to traditional organizations (see our previous articles here and here). But what is the role of the leader in this new open, empowered organization? The roles of leaders in traditional organizations In traditional organizations, the focus of leaders is to maximize value for shareholders. To do this, they play the roles of planner (developing strategy and translating it into a plan); director ...

Finding the balance in leadership styles

Business today is becoming increasingly more fast-paced and complex. In today’s complex, uncertain and fast-paced business environment, it is tempting to simply react to the latest issue and manage what is. The best leaders, however, in addition to reacting to the current situation, are able to create something new. What often separates the best leaders is their ability to be visionary and creative, not just vigilant and reactive. Rather than react to situations and manage what is, ...

What business can learn from professional football

Though it may seem difficult to find similarities in the career arcs of a management consultant and professional football team, they do in fact exist. Recently, I confirmed that suspicion after bumping into a well-known football manager with years of championship-level experience. After striking up a conversation in the otherwise empty airport lounge, we found remarkable parallels between talent management in professional football and in the corporate world. Both football triumph and business ...

How prioritizing initiatives fuels performance turnarounds

In cooking, whether you are a master chef or novice, the sequence is crucial. Performance improvement programs are much the same as recipes, but since companies must address a multitude of variables to boost productivity, success can be significantly more difficult to achieve. Consider one global luxury car manufacturer that was mired in a cycle of poor performance. Sales and production standards had declined, and the brand had lost its distinction in the market. A new ownership team acquired ...

For a successful transformation, start by sprinting

When done well, an organizational redesign fosters improved strategic focus, higher growth, better decision-making and more accountability. However, a McKinsey survey revealed that only 30 percent of organizational redesigns are successful in terms of achieving overall objectives and improved performance. That means a daunting 70 percent of transformations fail. Why? In the design phase, meddling by too many cooks often obscures the vision of a future operating model. Accommodating multiple ...

Streamline decision-making for a better customer journey

Imagine if an agency, retailer or bank could map its audience’s journey, fully understanding the experiences, actions and pain points that both drive and undermine the organizational decision-making process. Recent McKinsey research shows that most companies struggle with decision-making—particularly cross-cutting decisions where the process is often not only complex, but also unclear. Our research into the impact of decision-making shows that organizations with high velocity and ...

What it takes to digitize a public sector organization effectively

Digital transformations are difficult in the private sector, but even tougher in the public sector. Government IT projects requiring business change are six times more likely to record cost overruns and 20 percent more likely to miss deadlines than private sector projects. In our experience, we have identified three main challenges: Difficulty changing due to deep cultural and legacy roots, especially when status quo is valued and risk-taking is avoided. Lack of employees with the ...

Elephant in the room: making a culture transformation stick with symbolic actions

Why did a leading global agriculture player order small rubber elephants adorned with the company’s logo for its meeting rooms? Far from being mere props, these elephants were symbols to facilitate desired behavior shifts in employees. The organization was undergoing a cultural transformation to become a higher-performing, more innovative company. Leadership realized that to achieve this goal, employees needed to become more open and comfortable having the candid conversations required to ...