Jay Jordan, OCLC President Speaks at TechColumbus Leadership Series

Jay Jordan is the fourth president in OCLC’s 43-year history was a featured speaker as part of the TechColumbus 2011 Leadership Series sponsored by Vorys. Jay came to OCLC in May 1998 after a 24-year career with Information Handling Services, an international publisher of databases, where he held a series of key positions in top management, including President of IHS Engineering. Prior to joining IHS, Jay held positions with the 3M Corporation in Europe and the United States.

This series was designed in a conversational format to create the greatest interest and value for senior company leaders. Veteran business builders share their philosophies and best business practices in an open, interactive setting.

As the picture shows the Presidents Jay referenced the foundation and legacy he was building on.  I have lived in Columbus for over a decade and had been to meetings at OCLC but had no idea of the service they provide for the world.  I am a huge fan of the concept of libraries – they seem to me to be one of the hallmarks of a great civilization – making knowledge accessible to anyone who can show up irrespective of income.  OCLC’s purpose is:  Furthering access to the world’s information and reducing the rate of rise of per-unit costs.   As Jay talked, a few things became clear about OCLC and about him:

  • OCLC is a global organization committed to creating a complete inventory of all libraries, museums and historic society documents so they are accessible now and for future generations
  • Jay is an innovative leader in many ways- he is designing and building an innovative organization that is meeting the needs of today and of the future.  Phrases like this are used often with little meat behind them; in his case the numbers tell the story.  This organization represents 72,000 in 170 countries.  They are truly serving a global population and governed by global governing councils.
  • They own the Dewey Decimal System that classifies information using numbers – it is universal across the globe.
  • They have cataloged over 2.1 billion items (books, periodicals, music scores, sound recordings, computer files and other documents) with 57.5% being in languages other than English.
  • They are innovating by leveraging their technology and also what they deliver and how they deliver it to stay relevant in a very dynamic business.  For them the adage, innovate or die is a mandate.   On the right is the image of an ap they provide that helps find parking spaces on the OSU campus real time.

After listening to his presentation about the rate of growth and his commitment to serve future generations by making this massive body of knowledge available and accessible, I wondered what set him apart from other leaders and what lessons we could learn from him.  Here are a few of the ideas he shared:

  • Understand what the future will require of us and build our technology and services to intersect that future.
  • He talked a great deal about engaging younger folks (digital natives) – bringing kids to work.  Asking questions of young people in high school who see the world differently (young people have always had an internet like many of us have had television)
  • Get out of your comfort zone – remain curious
  • Hang out with crazy people – those who want to change the world and leave a legacy.  Even if they miss the mark, they are still making an impact
  • We live our values
  • Failure is expected if you are learning and growing – keep experimenting
  • Collaboration is critical with other organizations and around the world
  • Hire diverse people with different strengths to ensure a well-rounded team
  • Measurement is important but so is realizing that there are important things that cannot be measured – stay open and aware of the value and the limitations to measurement

OCLC is a non-profit corporation.  One phrase he started with and ended with was you cannot “do good” unless you “do well”.  I took this to mean that you cannot meet your mission and help the world if you are not well run and financially sustainable.

OCLC is doing good and is doing well.  Because of their work, many generations in the future will have access to the treasures we have created during our lifetimes.  Additionally, he is leaving a legacy of an organization that is visionary – setting the bar high for leveraging technology and remaining relevant in a very dynamic world.

After reading what Jay is doing at OCLC, is there any quality he demonstrates that you might consider integrating into your own leadership approach?  What is your legacy as a leader?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Innovative Leadership Institute, Inc. Celebrated 10 Years in Business

September 12, 2011 was the ten year anniversary for Metcalf & Associates.  Before I launched the company, I spent several months thinking about what next as I was leaving Accenture, a large consulting firm.  For me, thinking about what is next means going to a cabin in the woods – off the grid where I can walk in the woods, slow my pace, read, reflect and play with my dog.  So, at the ten year anniversary I took two weekends to do the same.  I just completed my first book, The Innovative Leadership Fieldbook, which is the culmination of ten years of work.  So, it is a great time to slow down and reflect again and ask what next from here.

As I reflect on my business over the past ten years, the main emotion that comes to mind is gratitude.  I am extremely grateful to so many people who made this company and it’s successes possible.

  • Colleagues past and present who helped build the business and who served as inspiration to me every step along the way
  • Clients – people who trusted me with their business operations and their personal challenges.  I could not have stayed in business without you
  • Friends of the firm – at every turn.  I always had what I needed in the form of money, emotional support, thought partners, people to encourage me, and people to challenge my thinking to make me sharper.

As I return from a cabin in the woods again, still facing dynamic economic times, I prepare for the next 10 years.  While I do not know what will happen next, I have a few thoughts about what is important to me:

  • Running a high value and high impact business that gives great value to my clients and provides compelling work for my colleagues.
  • Building and supporting a vibrant community in Central Ohio and beyond.  One of the actions I am taking to make this possible is supporting the work of the Institute of Strategic Clarity.  They are doing research about what makes organizations (and now a community) vibrant.  If you want to learn more and take the free assessment, click.
  • Continuing to bring thought leadership to my clients and the global community in the form of coaching, consulting and writing.  Many of my papers have been published by Integral Leadership Review and are available for free.
  • Giving back to friends, colleagues, clients and the next generation.  I will continue to be involved in Boards as well as being a good friend and colleague to people and businesses.
  • Continuing to grow and develop myself.  I believe that as we face challenges, it is critical to maintain our own personal resilienceand develop at least as fast as the world around us is so we can stay current.  I am committed to taking time to tend to my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  Part of this means I work with a coach from our team to help me grow.  I have also committed to a serious exercise regimin and I make time for personal reflection and meditation.

Thank you to everyone who has made Metcalf & Associates a 10 year success!

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Innovative Leadership –Evolve your Ability to Innovate

How often have you seen organizations launch an innovative product with minimal impact because the leader running the initiative is stuck in an outdated mindset?  The goal of Innovative Leadership is to help leaders develop innovative thinking and practices that align all areas of the business and are at least as forward thinking as the products and processes they are trying to implement.

As you think about the opposite of innovative leadership and consider why it might be useful for your organizaiton, think about an improvement or change you were excited about and the organization’s leadership thinking and behavior slowed the progress.

How, I would like to give an example of innovative leadership.  A group of executives left a mid-size traditional business to start a technology company.  They are now on plan to deliver the technology services and just landed their first international client.  The leaders, who started the company, demonstrated innovative leadership qualities over the next year by launching an offering they believed in, hiring innovative people, and creating a culture and systems that supported the new offering.  The new company, Haladon Technologies, Inc is successful on all traditional business measures from financial, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and being a socially conscious business partner.

What did they do that the parent company did not?  They practiced innovative leadership.  Successful, sustainable innovation starts with the leaders taking an innovative approach to leadership as well as services, products and business processes.

We define innovative leadership as:

  • Strategic leadership that inspires individual goals and organizations vision and cultures;
  • Tactical leadership that influences an individual’s actions and the organizations systems.
  • Holistic Leadership that aligns all key dimensions:  Individual, cultural, behavioral and systematic.

Despite their collective importance, conventional applications of leadership and innovation have often proved elusive and even problematic in real-world scenarios.  For example: if the leadership team of a struggling organization drives initiatives that focus solely on innovative changes to incentives, products, and services—without also advancing  strategic purpose and team effectiveness—they will still miss the vast potential to create meaningful growth. Productivity and system improvements are undoubtedly critical, but how employees engage with their work experience is equally vital.  Implementing innovation in the areas of products and services   without also addressing the team environment and support of company culture can often result in lop-sided decision making and short-sighted leadership.

Knowing that the future of organizations is irreversibly tied to a world of erratic change, you can no longer afford to improve your systems and offerings without equally advancing your capacity for leadership. Qualities such as empathy and the ability to inspire cultural alignment offer your organization significant merit, and need to be implemented as shrewdly as strategic planning.

Innovative leadership requires you to transform the way you perceive others, your businesses and yourself as a leader. By vigorously looking into your own experience—including motivations, inclinations, interpersonal skills and proficiencies—you can optimize your effectiveness in ways that are deeply resonate with your work.  It is important to balance the technical and functional skills you have acquired with meaningful introspection, all the while setting the stage for further growth.  In essence, you discover how to strategically and tactically innovate the way you perform every part of your business.

Innovative leadership is inspiring strategy and influencing implementation through an explicit balancing of four core dimensions: Individual, cultural, behavioral and systematic.

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative leader?  If so, take this free on-line Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale.  If you are looking for tools to help develop you ability to be an innovative leader, check out the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook.  Metcalf & Associates offers assessments, coaching and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative.

By Maureen Metcalf & Mark Palmer

Photocredit:  mikeblogs

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Changing Landscape of Work Requires Changing Your Mindset

An important element of being an innovative leader is the ability to look out on the horizon, spot trends and integrate those trends into his/her personal understanding of the world, behavior, the culture of the company and the company systems and processes.

I have been working on an IT Attract and Retain Talent study for TechColumbus in Central Ohio.  While unemployment is still relative high in our region, there are many jobs open in IT and the rate is growing.  During this study, one trend that emerged as interesting to me is the change in what work looks like for many people.  While we have read about the trend of more people being self-employed or freelancers, this recent recession is making this trend an increasing reality very quickly.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, June 13, 2011:  “Freelance jobs: Half of all new jobs in recovery?  Freelance jobs are up 52 percent at Elance. The number of entrepreneurs are at a 15-year high. But the growth in freelance jobs means less security for the workforce.

As America’s jobs recovery begins to take hold, one sector is growing faster than ever: freelancing.  There’s reason to celebrate. Many Americans are bypassing the corporate ladder to strike out on their own – doing everything from graphic design to iPhone programming. But there’s also reason to worry. Others are becoming entrepreneurs by necessity, forced to take freelance jobs because they cannot find regular jobs.  Desperation, rather than inspiration, seems to be the major force behind the trend. And the surge isn’t over.”

What is a response of an innovative leader to this trend?  I suggest the first response is to think about what it means in four different basic dimensions that impact our personal and professional success:

  1. What does the high level of freelance workers mean for me?  Do I have a secure job?  For how long?  What do I believe about this trend?
  2. Given what I am seeing in the marketplace, what should I do personally to respond?  Am I taking all of the appropriate steps to manage my career proactively?
  3. How does the change in workforce align with our company culture?  Do we hire freelance workers?  Do we create an environment that supports them adding optimal value to the company?
  4. Are the company systems set up to leverage this freelance workforce to improve our market position?  Are we easy for the most talented or hard to find workers to work with?

To address #1 and 2 above, I want to reference a wonderful book by Janine Moon, a friend and the author of: Career Ownership – Creating Job Security in Any Economy.  She provides a discreet set of tools available that will help you:

  • Define your best work direction
  • Examine your mindset for sabotage
  • Map and create your own job security
  • Approach potential mentors and make it easy for them to say yes
  • Gain the confidence to move from “renting” to “owning” your career

What are you doing to look across the horizon at the trends and create your own personal security?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Leadership Innovation & Friends at Work

As we talk about innovative leadership, many people are likely wondering what this really means in concrete examples, not some theory.

One concrete example is the shift from the view that good leaders and managers ensure their employees are doing their work and not spending time on activities that take away from their focus on tasks.

Early in my career, my boss asked that I make sure my team members do not spend too much time talking.  When they talked for more than about two minutes, I was to go over and ask them if there was anything I could help them with.  If not, they were to get back to work.  Now we have interesting research that suggests that this focus on productivity at the expense of camaraderie at work is counterproductive.  I understand there is a balance in all things and this this case is no exception.

So, what changed?  As we moved from the industrial era model for many jobs to a knowledge based economy, we are now more worried about “employee engagement”.    The world’s top-performing organizations understand that employee engagement is a force that drives performance outcomes. In the best organizations, engagement is more than a human resources initiative — it is a strategic foundation for the way they do business.

Research by Gallup and others shows that engaged employees are more productive. They are more profitable, more customer-focused, safer, and more likely to withstand temptations to leave. The best-performing companies know that an employee engagement improvement strategy linked to the achievement of corporate goals will help them win in the marketplace.

One of the questions in the Gallup engagement survey asks if employees have a best friend at work.  According to Gallup, “Those without a best friend in the workplace have just a 1 in 12 chance of being engaged.  Social relationships at work have also been shown to boost employee retention, safety, work quality and customer engagement.”  So think about this – if I take time to have conversations with people at work enough to consider someone a good friend, I must be breaking the 2 minute rule.

Beyond the time, I was also taught that my personal life is private and not to be shared with colleagues.  I remember a boss who shared her struggles with this notion.  She was very private and she seemed distant and a bit uncaring.  My favorite boss was much “warmer” and more open.  She was professional and appropriate and could have a very direct approach and yet no matter how frustrated she became with the work, I always knew I could count on her to be fair.  My trust in her ran deep because I had a “friendship”.

So, this is one example of how the rules have changed in many workplaces.  If employee engagement is a differentiator, then we need to move beyond the old rules to a new and more innovative view of leadership.  This is one small example of how innovative leaders look at work and people in the workplace very differently.  They are not “human resources”, rather they are real people who have hopes and dreams and friends.

Do you have a colleague or friend at work that you trust to give you honest feedback?  Someone to help think through a challenging work situation?  Do you feel like someone cares about your career success?  What are you doing to be a “friend” at work to your colleagues?

Photo credit:  Al Abut

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.