KingChapman Blog

What Henry Cavendish Can Teach Us About Organizational Culture

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jun 10, 2019 6:23:56 PM


Organizational culture is one of the most important and yet misunderstood aspects in business today. Culture has profound impact on a business organization's performance. For example, a Harvard Business School study documented the significant impact of culture on performance. Heskett and Kotter documented the dramatic differences between companies with good cultures vs those with poor cultures on key performance measures. For example, the companies with good cultures achieved 756% growth in net income during the same time period that companies with poor performing culture saw just 1% net income growth.

Given the importance of culture on performance, one would assume that those of us in business would have an excellent understanding of what culture is. While this seems obvious, it is not the case. Most of us have an incomplete understanding of organizational culture. We assume that culture is:

  • The artifacts which can be seen in the organization. These artifacts include the behaviors which can be seen. It also includes how communication is delivered, the workplace is organized as well as how practices and processes deployed. While declaration is given that those artifacts are the culture, less consideration is given as to why those artifacts occur. Said differently, identifying what the cultural artifacts are is useful, however, meaningful change can occur only after determining why that culture occurs.
  • The values of the organization. It is common practice for executives who seek to change or improve their organization’s culture to use exercises to develop the exact wording for the desired values and principles of the organization. The assumption is that by identifying and claiming these new values that they will now occur in the culture. While this is a popular approach to culture change, it seldom works out for any length of time.
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Topics: Organizational Culture, Leading Breakthroughs, Organizational Transformation

Why the Launch is Critical in Launching Breakthrough Projects

Posted by Bob Chapman on Oct 17, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Breakthrough Projects are designed to achieve breakthroughs or a step level change in performance. A breakthrough leads to results that otherwise were not going to happen. A breakthrough requires a fundamental change, rather than simply working harder. Further, the change introduced to produce the result will also make this new level of performance sustainable over time. Launching breakthrough projects are a proven method for achieving breakthroughs, and are an essential element in organizational transformation. These projects interrupt the existing mindset and processes in order to produce breakthroughs.

While there are many elements which contribute to success of breakthrough projects, the most important is the launch. The launch involves setting up the team to be successful, and then starting it off in an empowering manner. Conversely, when teams that are operating falter, the predictable cause is some matter that was not addressed during set-up and launch.

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Breakdowns Are Roads To Organizational Breakthroughs

Posted by Bob Chapman on Sep 12, 2017 7:03:00 AM

Businesses exist to create value. Sustaining value creation usually involves substantial growth. Substantial growth is easy when the markets in which the business compete are growing, as “rising waters lift all boats”. Most businesses, however, cannot count on “rising waters” to deliver growth. Instead, they require creativity, leadership, innovation and dogged determination. In addition, they often require breakthroughs and changing organizational context.

At KingChapman, we have refined application of Breakthrough Technology over the past three decades. This approach, when deployed by leaders, has reliably produced organizational breakthroughs and improved performance.

Integral to achieving breakthroughs is effective use of breakdowns. The Breakdown Methodology is based on an invented conversation to explore what are perceived to be interruptions to desired performance and paths. These conversations identify dynamics and factors which were previously unnoticed, and hold the key to breakthroughs.

Let's discuss the importance of breakdowns, as well as the breakdown methodology.

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Creating Organizational Transformation With Breakthrough Projects

Posted by Bob Chapman on Aug 24, 2017 8:12:00 AM

Sustainable value creation in a business requires growth. Growth requires change. Substantial, sustainable growth requires transformative change. That’s well known. What’s not so well know is how to achieve transformative changes. That is the hard part, which requires leadership and breakthroughs. KingChapman has long assisted leaders design and execute breakthroughs in their organizations.

An obvious first question is what is a breakthrough? A breakthrough is step level change in an organizations level of performance. A breakthrough leads to results that otherwise were not going to happen. A breakthrough requires a fundamental change, rather than simply working harder. Further, the change introduced to produce the result will also make this new level of performance sustainable over time. This extraordinary result is achieved through intentional actions in the business, including transforming the organization’s orientation to be more externally focused.

KingChapman has found the best approach to achieving breakthrough results is through Breakthrough Projects. We have used Breakthrough Projects in many different industries around the globe. The consistent theme in Breakthrough Projects is:

  • Strong leadership from managers
  • Commitment to achieving results beyond the currently level of knowledge and practice
  • Teams that are empowered to find ways to achieve these breakthroughs
  • Commitment to sustain the breakthroughs and introduce into ongoing operations in performance beyond what is currently being produced
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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Charters Are an Essential Tool in Post-Acquisition Integration Success

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jun 7, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Seventy percent (70%) of change efforts fail to deliver the expected results, according to Changing Change Management in the July 2015 issue of McKinsey Quarterly. The low success rate is attributed in part to the limited scope of most change management techniques, which focus on control and minimizing distractions. Change management is appropriate for small, contained changes such as updating the software in an accounting department. It is not appropriate for change efforts as complicated as post-acquisition integrations, in which case change leadership techniques are required. John Kotter describes the differences in change management and change leadership as:

Change management, which is the term most everyone uses, refers to a set of basic tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control. The goal is often to minimize the distractions and impacts of the change. Change leadership, on the other hand, concerns the driving forces, visions and processes that fuel large-scale transformation.

Post-acquisition integration is a complicated form of strategic execution that requires breakthrough designs and unique organizational accountability during implementation. We think that organizing the integration as a series of well-orchestrated breakthrough projects is the optimal means of:

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs, Mergers & Acquisitions

Leadership Commitment to Charters Key to Transformational Change

Posted by Bob Chapman on Mar 14, 2017 7:08:00 AM

There is an ever-increasing demand today for transformational leaders. The rapid evolution of disruptive business models and technologies combined with intense global competition is producing this demand. The need for transformational change leaders who can use breakthrough designs to create sustainable growth strategies and execute transformational change is much larger than the supply. This has created a “gap” inside many organizations which requires leadership commitment to fill. Boards of Directors and executives are looking for ways to develop transformational change leaders within their companies like never before.

We at KingChapman have demonstrated methods for rapidly developing transformational leaders at many levels of an organization. We find that the best approach to developing these leaders combines creating and leading a Breakthrough Project in their organization with active participation in courses on Transformational Leadership. The act of creating the Charter for the Breakthrough Project is often the pivotal moment, both in forming the project and in participation in the leadership course.

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Leadership Development Should Focus On Experiments

Posted by Dr. Robert Hausmann on Feb 21, 2017 9:18:00 AM

This article was previously published in Harvard Business Review on April 12, 2016. It was co-authored by Ron Ashkenas, Partner Emeritus at Schaffer Consulting.


Leadership development represents a huge and growing investment for most organizations. Industry research, for example, shows that companies spent more than $24 billion on leadership and management training worldwide in 2013, an increase of 15% from 2012.

The question is whether companies will get a worthwhile return on this investment. In past years leadership development has always been treated as a discretionary expense or even a luxury, and therefore something that could be pared down or eliminated in hard economic times. Underlying this notion was the lack of tangible results that could be attributed to management training. Without real results, leadership development becomes at best a leap of faith, and at worst a waste of time and money.

A number of companies are starting to address this issue by reversing the traditional leadership development “equation,” which essentially posits that if you give leaders the right skills and experiences, they will change their behaviors and produce better results. Reversing this means that companies start at the end — with results. In other words, leadership development begins with a real business challenge that leaders need to solve, instead of with a hypothetical case study or simulation. In order to succeed, they have to act, reach outside of their comfort zone, and adapt their approach.

Over the past couple of years, we have collaborated with the leadership development team at Cargill, one of the world’s largest global agricultural processing and distribution companies, to apply these ideas in a program for high-potential managers called “Leading in a Complex World.” Here’s how it worked:

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

5 Essential Leadership Commitments in Communication

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jan 24, 2017 7:04:00 AM


Leadership and communication are so intertwined that they could be thought of as synonymous. It is important to remember that in this case, the term communication is shaped more by what employees feel, hear and perceive, rather than what the leader says.

People in the organization observe the verbal and nonverbal communications from executives. They look for clues as to the authenticity of these executives, and whether they can be trusted as leaders. The people also look at the congruence between what leaders say and do. They look to determine if “the walk matches the talk”.

Here are 5 essential leadership commitments that must be made in communication to transform organizations:

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Why Leadership Accountability is Critical in Breakthrough Projects

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jan 17, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Perhaps you have heard the expression: “I can’t hear what you're saying because who you are being speaks so loudly”. This implies that the 'being' of a leader is a stronger force than any words the leader uses. Consider that for leaders, accountability is an essential ingredient in their being.

For many, the previous statement will be hard to understand so let’s unpack it a bit. The role of leaders is to align people, communicate goals, seek commitment, motivate, and inspire. Empowering accountability, as created by leaders, serves that purpose. It is quite distinct from management accountability, which is designed to produce consistency, control and order. Empowering accountability is designed to enable employees to be extraordinary in pursuit of the exceptional. Empowering Accountability by leaders is essential for success in Breakthrough Projects that lead to organizational transformation.

So let's explore what Breakthrough Projects are and how they lead to transformation.

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs