On Capacity

Industrial Organization Psychology in the Workplace - Guest Blog Post

Posted August 4, 2012 3:10 PM by Ted Jackson

In the this post, Alexa Thompson discusses how in the present business environment, where collaboration is respected and valued, making sure employees are content can help increase individual productivity and improve corporate culture. As an author for resources on psychology, including organizational psychology, or "work" psychology, Alexa builds off of this blog's promotion of building collaborative teams by suggesting that changes to the overall culture of a business can yield better results.

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On Employee Performance Reviews

Posted July 8, 2012 11:58 AM by Dylan Miyake

Employee evaluations have always been a pet peeve of mine. I hate giving them, I hate getting them (part of the reason I started Ascendant was so that I would no longer have to get an annual review), and I find them to have little to no value. They're either used to document behavior that's well understood or to create a paper trail to eventually terminate someone. And everyone is above average. So what's the point?

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Guest Blog from Dan Pink: Why progress matters: 6 questions for Harvard’s Teresa Amabile

Posted February 22, 2012 10:09 AM by Ted Jackson

What follows it a blog posted on Dan Pink's website and reposted here with permission. Dan is speaking at our upcoming Mission Driven Summit. Here is a link to the original post. Here's a tip for rounding out your summer reading. Pick up a copy of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work. The book, which pubs today, is one of the best business books I've read in many years. (Buy it at Amazon, BN, or 8CR).

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Do you have a Decision Making Process?

Posted February 15, 2012 10:23 PM by Ted Jackson

Let me quickly describe a dysfunctional organization. It is one whose leadership team meets on a regular basis. Maybe they meet weekly for 1 hour or monthly for 2-4 hours or even quarterly for 4-8 hours. They talk about all the things that are important to their organization. They discuss all of the challenges and successes. They fret over the complex and difficult issues, and then they break for the day and meet back again the next time. This might not seem all that unfamiliar to you.

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Mission-Driven Summit Early Bird Registration - Last Day!!

Posted November 15, 2011 9:20 AM by Ted Jackson

Today is the last day to get the early bird registration discount for the upcoming summit in March of 2012. This summit is going to be great. We have keynote presentations from David Norton, co-creator of the Balanced Scorecard, and Daniel Pink, author of DRIVE. If you want to register today to receive the early bird rate, but you cannot get your act together to do it online, please email us, and we can invoice your organization.

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America’s Pragmatic Caucus Steps Up

Posted November 1, 2011 8:56 AM by Ted Jackson

This weekend someone emailed me a copy of an article from Time magazine about how local communities are not letting the dysfunction of Washington, DC politics stop them from making progress. I live in Washington, DC, so sometimes it is hard to see beyond CSPAN and the news in the Washington Post. It seems like politics have brought the USA to a standstill, where a supermajority is now required for any basic vote in congress. I've been lucky enough over the past year to have two clients in the same region represent this "Pragmatic Caucus" that was described by Bruce Katz and Judith Rodin.

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CEOs Need a New Set of Beliefs

Posted September 27, 2011 10:28 AM by Dylan Miyake

In a Harvard Business Review blog yesterday, Raymond V. Gilmartin argued that CEOs need a new set of beliefs. What's surprising -- especially for those of us that work in the mission-driven sector -- is that this even bears saying. But what struck me the most in the post was that Professor Gilmartin (the past CEO of Merck) argues that "Purpose, meaning, and recognition are more powerful motivators than economic self-interest, and large external rewards can reduce intrinsic motivation."

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Social Capital increases school performance

Posted August 19, 2011 9:22 AM by Ted Jackson

So the cover story of the Fall 2011 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review is called "The Missing Link in School Reform." At Ascendant, we help a lot of schools to improve performance, so the article caught my eye. In the article, author Carrie Leana introduces the concept of Social Capital. She says that it may be more important than Human Capital in improving schools.

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Executive Director of SAWDC to present at our upcoming conference

Posted August 8, 2011 9:38 AM by Ted Jackson

Have you ever thought of an employee as a raw material to making your business successful? If employees are one of the key ingredients to success, then having the highest quality of employee at all levels is critical to your business's success. This makes sense, right? So what do you do if your company requires many skilled laborers, but the community where you operate doesn't have enough qualified candidates? For companies in Southwest Alabama, you get involved in workforce development, and that is where SAWDC fits in.

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Strategic Growth and New Hires

Posted February 11, 2011 2:22 PM by Dylan Miyake

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. They continue to dominate the headlines and we would like to take a few minutes to talk about the current situation and how it applies to mission-driven organizations.

Right now, students and job seekers alike know it's a competitive market and are looking to demonstrate their abilities anywhere they can. Gone are the days of specialized repetitive tasks and today's job seekers know they have to be flexible.

They understand the importance of technology, business principles, as well as fluency in leading languages such as Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic. They understand the value of maintaining solid relationships and have been steadily building their professional networks.

How will you use the available talent strategically?

In light of this incredible pool of energetic, talented, and driven candidates, it may be time to review your Organizational Development Perspective. We are not saying it's time to start hiring excessively, but is your organization making strategic moves now to best utilize this abundance of talent?

Many students and job seekers are looking to gain experience through internships. Today's interns (or even externs) are not "paper pushers" but driven and eager contributors. By giving them a chance to learn more about your organization, by giving them an opportunity to contribute to your team, you get fresh minds who are excited not by money but by the chance to prove themselves. Interns are often the best people to task with new and creative tasks as they are not constrained by outdated ideas or practices. And while they don't have all the skills or experience, they are eager to run with anything you give them.

Sure, there might be a dud along the away, but for minimal costs these internships give your organization a chance to bring in new energy and start developing your next generation of leaders. And if you provide real opportunities for impact, you will find that the best and brightest are actually more attracted to your organization.

Another strategic question should be discussed through the context of the Organizational Perspective. This question revolves around productivity. As budgets have tightened while expectations simultaneously increased, have your teammates and employees had the support they need to become more efficient? Lean thinking and process improvement are buzz words around productivity, but have you really taken the time to ask your employees what is really holding them back? Is there anything you can do as a leader to reduce their daily headaches so they can focus on the real mission?

Our final thought is on personal development. Tight budgets and economic stress have caused many organizations to be stuck in their 2008 mold. A majority of employees and team members are holding the same titles and responsibilities as a few years ago and have not had a chance to move up in organizations. This status quo behavior was required through a recession, but continuing the trend will drive high-performing team members away. High performers need new challenges--not busy work, but real challenges that have opportunities for growth. Opportunities foster creativity and excitement, which are critical to a healthy organizational culture.

So while there is plenty of uncertainty left in the world, it's time to begin opening the doors to new energy and talent. It's time to reaffirm your commitment to your team's growth. It's time to achieve mission driven success!

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