Last year about this time, I shared with you that “After much soul searching and consternation, Vector Group Principals agreed to commit to some sweeping changes in how we reach out to a growing audience interested in our work over the years.” Part of that commitment was to more fully engage in social media including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and do some blogging. We launched into all of those albeit minimal effort goes to FB and Twitter at this point with more of our focus on LinkedIn and blogging (TheVectorView).
We also brought our somewhat antiquated website (www.vectorgroupinc.com) more in line with modern times with the apparent importance that websites must display appropriately on smartphones. Who woulda thought o’ that? Nevertheless, we launched our new website in October. Admittedly, it is still a work in progress since we continually update content, fix broken hyperlinks and plan to change our focus slightly.
Our Principals also agreed that for 2016 we would post a blog once a week at a minimum and that may include an additional long post on LinkedIn. We will ready an article for publication every quarter and we committed to getting one of our three books in progress ready for publication by the end of the year (more on that later).
As a well-established global consulting firm for over 30 years, we continue to adapt our approaches with our clients, build new models, develop new tactics and share our methodologies with others who want to do good work whether as a practitioner in our field or in management within an organization. In 2016, we plan to offer more of our expertise to those engaged in the field of performance improvement, organization development and management and leadership development.
Here is what we promised at the beginning of 2015 for TheVectorView:
• Change has Changed (change management and leadership)
• Cultural Assessment: Considerations, Approaches and Implications©
• Endemic Organizational Dysfunctions and Organizational Performance
• Group Techniques for Managing Group Performance
• Strategic Alignment: An Historical Perspective
• Systems Theory and Organizational Performance
• Changing the Focus from Individual to Group
• Leadership: The Vector Group Approach
• Culture and Business
• Living the Brand Promise
• Management Mirror© (executive teams)
• Partnering (Teamwork Between Teams)
• Organizational Scan Model©
• Issues-Based Team Building©
• Jack Welch’s Four Types
Here is what we delivered for TheVectorView during 2015:
• A New Year, A New Commitment, A New (Vector) View
• Change: Change Has CHANGED
• Organizational or Strategic? Should We Redefine Alignment?
• The Role of the Integration Manager during Post-Acquisition Cultural Integration
• The Consultant’s Challenge: Conducting an Organizational Assessment Focusing on the Culture
• Organizational Values and Revisiting Our Own
• Effectively Giving Feedback To Improve Performance
• Receiving Feedback: Some Practical Considerations in Designing 360° Feedback for Managers
• Issues-Based Team-Building®: How It Works
• Trust: How to Build and Maintain It (Part 1 – Openness)
• Trust: How to Build and Maintain It (Part 2 – Reliability)
• The Management Mirror©: Assessing Senior Executive Teams
• The Mergers & Acquisitions Roadmap for Success
• Valuing Others: A Step beyond Respect
• Empowerment: It Used to Be Such a Nice Little Word
• “Culture Clash:” Another Way of Describing Management Negligence
Here are the long posts we published for LinkedIn in 2015:
• Managing Human Resources During Uncertain Times
• Mergers & Acquisitions Roadmap to Success
• Effective Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances: HR’s Role in Cultural Due Diligence (CDD) The Consultant’s Challenge: How Do YOU Stack Up? (Cultural Assessment) A Proposal to a Client for Conducting a 360° Feedback Survey for Management
• Dealing with the Emotional Side of Receiving Performance Feedback
• Cultural Due Diligence – a brief history and some current concerns
• Organizational Performance: A Howl at the Moon?
• Leadership Programs – General Considerations
• CULTURE: Organizational versus National or Ethnic
We actually brought more topics than promised but we still have some heavier topics to deal with over the course of 2016. With that said, our commitment is to provide a weekly blog on various topics and allocate writing responsibilities amongst us. We may even call upon trusted colleagues outside our firm to contribute their thinking the TheVectorView as well. We recently worked together with three other consulting firms on a response to an RFQ—there is sometimes strength in numbers and in harnessing collective intellectual capital.
We’ve always maintained that we give out more and more of our intellectual property (IP) with those who may gain benefit from it. Unlike other consulting firms, we always believed that the time we spend protecting what we already developed is time lost from working with new ideas and moving forward.
Vector Group Principals still strive to broaden the field of performance improvement by oftentimes giving away our “stuff” (IP). We will still do that but a recent conversation with a trusted colleague gave me/us pause to ponder. We may be seeing a “generational gap” between what always worked in developing business (that is what we are ALL here for, right?) and where the trends lead now.
We always thought that by contributing think pieces, articles, books and conference presentations was the way to go in not only establishing our credibility but also defining our contribution to the field of performance improvement. We firmly believed THIS led to new business/new clients. We also relied on “word of mouth” from current to future clients. All that took considerable time but it worked reliably.
The seismic shift we see now, however, is more about answering the question of “What can you do for me today?” Rather than reading the articles, books, etc., decision-makers take more of a transactional approach in deciding what their organization needs more quickly. I always railed against “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” idiom but there may be something to examine with regard to how today’s business managers and executives decide how well their enterprise achieves its goals and if not, when to bring in outside expertise.
We plan to explore this trend and possibly develop some quick assessment tools as my colleague suggested that allow for a top-level situational assessment in the proverbial “15 minutes.” We promise to keep you appraised on our debate.
A year ago I described a board game that came out a while back called “Fact or Crap™” (a trademark of Imagination Entertainment). In what they describe as a “fast-paced trivia game,” Players compete to answer that question in a display of their knowledge of the world and score points based on their correct answers. I played it a few times—it is fun—but I find no one wants to compete with me in that game OR Trivial Pursuit. I don’t know why.
Nevertheless, we used the concept of “fact or crap” to come up with a list of commonly held beliefs and understandings regarding post-merger or post-acquisition integration and about strategic alignment.
Our 30+ years of experience in the field determines their reality or myth but these topics are ones we will dig into and expand upon for your perusal in 2016. You can counter our views and engage in debate with us on these:
1. It takes a long time to see results from a culture change effort.
2. National and ethnic cultures go hand in hand with organizational culture – it is all one topic.
3. Since some organizational cultures cannot merge effectively, Cultural Due Diligence (CDD) needs to occur prior to finalizing a deal.
4. Integration of two or more cultures should proceed slowly and cautiously.
5. For the best results, keep culture change as a separate topic from the other change activities involved in post-merger integration.
6. Simple and focused change efforts are best; do not overwhelm people.
7. The more people involved in the decisions in all aspects of the change, the greater the acceptance in the end.
8. Management will have its hands full with the “business” aspects of the integration. Leave the soft stuff such as organizational culture to consultants.
9. An effective and well-managed organizational culture will produce one overall and all-encompassing culture across the entire organization.
10. In a post-merger or post-acquisition environment, do not waste time on where the two or more companies have been. Focus all attention on where you want to be and waste no time on what was.
11. The Executive suite has to lead any successful organizational change.
12. Off-the-shelf surveys and questionnaires are easy, cost-effective and thereby the best tools for cultural assessment of an organization.
Next blog: TheVectorView on 2016: Is This the Year of Management and Leadership Development?
Welcome again to The Vector View. We encourage your comments and questions.
©Vector Group, Inc., 2016
Gary W. Craig
Vector Group, Inc.