Change and Transformation
“The Beacon Group’s program proved to be a transformational experience for our staff, and has created a new, more open culture of creativity and collaboration that has given The Globe and Mail a marked and measurable competitive advantage.”
— Phillip Crawley
“The Beacon Group was able to handle our 360 reviews across 9 offices in a manner that brought significant value to our partners, the firm and ultimately our clients.”
— Judson Whiteside
“The human capital programs provided by The Beacon Group are best in class.”
— Tye Burt
“The Beacon Group approaches very serious and difficult topics in an accessible and insightful way.”
— Eric Siegel
“The Beacon Group’s thought provoking curriculum utilizes best practice tools and interactive media for evaluation, assessment and overall learning. It has helped us raise the bar on our calibre of talent.”
— Ernst Lieb
“The Beacon Group delivered cutting edge perspectives on many human capital topics that were tailored and customized to our company in a way that we could not have obtained at more generic, cookie-cutter advising shops.”
— Doug Lord
“The Beacon Group acted as a strategic partner and was instrumental in helping us raise the bar on candid dialogue and team performance.”
— Robert Courteau
“We engaged The Beacon Group when we needed to bring two cultures together after our first major international acquisition: the evidence of their success lies in both the subsequent growth in our business and our presence in more than twelve countries on five continents.”
— Rupert Duchesne
“The Beacon Group excels in facilitating open & candid dialogue that has fostered superior team performance.”
— Mary Ellen Carlyle
“Top-level thought leadership, combined with practical, cost-effective solutions—that’s the real value the Beacon Group team brings to bear on Foresters talent challenges.”
— Suanne Nielsen
“Doug Williamson and his team were of invaluable assistance in helping our organization navigate through a completely new strategic planning process and emerge with a three year plan resoundingly endorsed by our Board. Doug’s global perspectives and ability to drive consensus was an integral part of our success.”
— Don Forgeron
“The Global HR & Communications senior team engaged the Beacon Group in shepherding us through a unique strategic planning process that involved an outside-in view of our current and future workforce and how this aligns to our business strategy. Thanks to Doug and his team it was a thought provoking process that sharpened our strategic thinking and, in the end, made our strategy stronger.”
— Sylvia Chrominska
“The Beacon Group’s customized and personalized approach fit our needs perfectly. From the initial self-discovery phase all the way to recommending solutions, the work they have done has been consistently world-class. They combine strong analytics with a wealth of real world experience. They are focused, targeted and are experts at taking theoretic concepts and making them real. We look forward to working with Doug and his team as we continue to elevate our business and improve our internal performance.”
— Don Romano
In the hyperactive and challenging world in which we all live, it is becoming harder and harder for business leaders to find time to read, reflect and gain insight from the many valuable sources at our disposal.
In "Provocative Propositions", The Beacon Group attempts to fill that void by offering our opinion, often rather pointed, on a wide array of issues we believe are relevant to leading a modern organization.
The articles are catalogued into 12 categories so you can quickly and easily find a topic of particular interest. We then offer three easy steps under the heading "In Our Opinion" to help business leaders take action on the key themes.
Simply click on the category and read away.
The Hidden Cost of Ignorance
We never really study failure. Sydney Finklestein argues in his book "Why Smart Executives Fail" that, in our minds, we simply label executive failures into seven categories...
The fact is we donít really know about corporate failure. We reason vaguely about why organizations and executives stumble on challenges, but an organization is much larger than a single leader. There are many people that could anticipate and solve problems as they arise.
The problem is that at every juncture point in a corporationís history, there is increased risk for smart executives to fail. Executives perceive reality in different ways and organizations donít always face up to whatís really going on.
The outcome is that executives see problems coming, they are aware of changes in their industry, the people around them feed them information on new trends...but they fail to take the necessary steps to adapt.
The solution is to understand how failures slowly infect corporations and develop systems to help the organization be proactive in giving accurate feedback to leaders.
How did you miss it?
Most of the time, corporate problems are fairly easy to anticipate - on paper. A brief case-study in GMís struggles. Consider the facts...
- As early as 1956, foreign car manufacturers were drastically increasing their market penetration in the US.
- In 1957, the US imported more cars than it exported.
- Environmental concerns related to the automobile first emerged in the early 1960s.
- By 1974, GM was spending $2.25 billion a year to follow environmental regulations. By 1979 that expenditure was close to $5 billion a year.
Today Ė in 2008 Ė we hear about the burdens of healthcare and pension costs and low-cost foreign competition.
You get the point... these arenít new problems. GMís troubles were a long time in the making. Why did no one pick up on them?
Even by the 1980s, when GM began to copy Toyotaís automation techniques to lower their costs, the problems persisted. Nobody there really understood what made Toyota successful. CEO Roger Smith led the company to an obsession with robotic automation without considering the "lean manufacturing" techniques that Toyota was using.
All of GMís problems were single-mindedly defined as "labour cost" related.
Another example: for years Motorola prided itself on having a "healthy dose of discontent". The organization was never quite happy with its accomplishments and always aimed for more innovation.
As the company faced change, the hints were obvious. Motorola had plenty of data indicating that the cell phone market was switching from analog to digital. They owned patents for the new digital technology and licensed them to Ericsson and Nokia. For every digital phone that was sold by their competitors, Motorola had perfect market data to track the emerging trend.
Nothing was done to adapt.
No one challenged the leaders to see the situation differently.
Thatís the point that Finklestein gets to in his book. Failures are caused by destructive patterns of behaviour. There are leaders, but they arenít the only ones guiding a company. The whole organization in involved in this process. Why is it that no one speaks out? Why is it that organization miss out on seemingly obvious trends? Where do these flawed mindsets and delusional attitudes come from?
In Our Opinion
The Beacon Groupís Keys to understanding and avoiding failure
Thereís no doubt that your organization has some of the smartest people around. However, that doesnít mean that they will not fail to recognize a problem or a solution within your organization. Failure is often not about the individual, but about a set of organizational qualities that weaken honest communication.
Three really key points to prevent your smart executives from failing...
Break the chain- A single error in judgment rarely brings down a company. The key is to break the chain of failure. A CEO can blunder, but the corporate culture and his/her leadership qualities need to be able to tolerate tough questions. Itís about the personality of the leader. Make it a rule for your co-workers to play the devilís advocate for every idea or proposal that comes through the door.
Juncture points - The failure situations described above are more likely to happen at key juncture points in a companyís history.
This is when you have to keep an eye out and ensure that you...
-Create new ventures
-Deal with innovation and change
-Manage mergers and acquisitions
-Address new competitive pressures
Look Deeper - Executives and leadership teams rarely fail because "they are stupid" or "they are crooks". Look for specific attitudes that show themselves in different situations. At the cable company Adelphia, a "Blood is thicker than business" attitude was clear among the family executives long before scandals actually hit the company.