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Organizational Knowledge Clause 7. Context of the organization ISMS: Continually improving performance is critical in a global business environment increasingly characterized by mounting performance pressure, constant change, and disruption, where companies will have to take on new roles, develop new capabilities, and fundamentally shift their relationships with customers and partners.
We call this phenomenon the Big Shift. Competition has increased, and it is getting harder for businesses to maintain leadership positions. In this environment, talent is the only asset that has the potential to continuously appreciate. Companies need nimble workers who challenge the status quo, pursue improved performance, and learn from market forces and trends around them.
These workers are resilient. They do not crumble under the pressure of the rapidly changing world. Instead, they view challenges as opportunities to learn and improve; they get stronger from these opportunities. However, every business has this type of worker. Businesses can learn to identify Explorers within their workforce and create work environments that elicit the Explorer behaviors in all workers.
This is essential to surviving and thriving in the era of the Big Shift. For some, domain may be narrowly defined. For example, one person might be focused on making an impact in health care broadly, while another might focus on making an impact in the treatment of dermatological diseases. Another individual may focus on establishing and growing virtual communities—not a function per se—within large companies in unrelated industries.
Because the concept of domain is somewhat nebulous, it is difficult to convey it as a question to survey respondents. To simplify, we asked respondents about their commitment to their industries, recognizing that commitment to industry does not capture other possible domains such as market or area of expertise. To test this assumption, we relaxed our filter to include those who indicated a desire to make an impact on their functional area, and the proportion of Explorers in our sample only increased slightly, to 13 percent from In future years, we will continue to refine our understanding of commitment to domain and improve how we test for it in a way that limits confusion for participants.
Any additional thoughts or suggestions on this topic are welcome; please contact the Center for the Edge. The passion of the Explorer is defined by three attributes: Each of these attributes leads to behaviors that drive sustained performance improvement and help people integrate knowledge from professional networks and lessons from difficult challenges into a disciplined commitment toward making an increasing longer-term impact. Long-term commitment can be understood as a desire to have a lasting and increasing impact on a particular domain and a desire to participate in that domain for the foreseeable future.
Commitment to domain helps individuals focus on where they can make the most impact. Having domain context enables an individual to learn much faster, allowing for cumulative learning. This commitment, however, does not imply isolation or tunnel vision. These individuals are constantly seeking lessons and innovative practices from adjacent and new domains that have the potential to influence their chosen domain.
Commitment to domain is important because it can carry an individual through the inevitable bumps and disappointments that come, even in good work environments, over the course of a career.
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For Molly Hoyt, a program manager for a green power initiative at a major utility provider, commitment to green energy allows her to persevere in the face of a multistage, multiyear process that involves numerous regulatory hurdles and sometimes challenging negotiations with stakeholders. Some industries or specializations may more naturally foster a resilient commitment. This deep commitment will cause individuals to work harder and persevere longer in the face of obstacles and setbacks. This degree of unlearning and reframing is not comfortable for most people, but those with a deep commitment to domain are more disposed to embrace it in pursuit of making a larger impact.
They are focused on performance trajectories. If they start to see performance level off or decline, they are deeply motivated to reassess their approach in order to continue to increase their impact. In fall , to explore how the attributes of the Explorer exhibit themselves in the workforce and how they are changing, the Deloitte Center for the Edge surveyed approximately 3, US workers working more than 30 hours per week from 15 industries across various job levels senior management, middle management, and front line.
This large sample size allows us to detect relatively small differences between different populations and gives us confidence in our results. Additionally, many of the findings in this report were made using predictive analytic techniques, making them more durable than traditional descriptive statistics.
To help us calibrate our understanding of the data, we selected a set of individuals from within our personal networks who we believed possessed the attributes of the passion of the Explorer and who were not CEOs or freelancers. We asked them to take the survey and participate in an interview. Interestingly, of the 10 individuals selected, only three, ranging in age from the mids to the mids, actually had all of the attributes of the passion of the Explorer.
The other seven, all high performers who express a love of their jobs and who add great value to their organizations and teams, each were missing one of the three attributes of the Explorer. In particular, four lacked commitment to a specific industry or sector. For the most part, they were committed to something broader and more aligned with personal values than making a significant and increasing impact on a particular domain. One theme that emerged was that passion can surprise a person. All of our subjects over the age of 30 told stories of starting down one path that they believed they were very interested in and then discovering—through serendipity, mentorship, and work opportunities—what they were really passionate about.
This balance varies by personality, but the conclusion is clear: The actual work matters as much as does the organization, the work environment, and the impact of the work. The questing disposition drives workers to go above and beyond their core responsibilities. Workers with the questing disposition constantly probe, test, and push boundaries to identify new opportunities and learn new skills. Resourceful and imaginative, they experiment with novel ways of using the available tools and resources to improve their performance.
These workers actively seek challenges that might help them achieve the next level of performance. If they cannot find the types of challenges that generate learning, individuals with a questing disposition are likely to become frustrated and move to another environment such as a new team or organization that does offer these opportunities. The connecting disposition leads individuals to seek out others to help find solutions to the challenges they are facing.
Although networking—connecting with and learning from others—is commonly understood as an effective way to advance, those with a connecting disposition seek deep interactions with others in related domains to attain insights that they can bring back into their own domain. Workers driven by a connecting disposition build connections, not to grow their professional networks but to learn from experts and build new knowledge and capabilities. Workers who exhibit all three attributes have what we have defined as the passion of the Explorer.
Because of their potential for dramatic impact in their organizations, management needs to get better at recognizing and cultivating passion in the workforce to transform their businesses. Passionate workers will thrive in the right work environment, and workers with some, but not all, of the attributes are key targets for internal talent development efforts to increase this limited stock of resilient workers. While this represents a 15 percent increase in passionate workers over the previous year, it is only a marginal improvement for the resilience and performance of individuals and companies.
It is possible that a gradually improving labor market is allowing people to shift into work they are more passionate about, although we lack enough historical data to test this hypothesis. Despite the modest increase, however, the survey findings show that passion is still very rare in the US workforce: However, nearly 50 percent of the workforce has one or two attributes of passion. Figure 1 shows the talent archetypes, introduced in Unlocking the passion of the Explorer , of individuals who exhibit some attributes of passion. These individuals are a source of tremendous potential if organizations can better amplify the attributes of passion they have and cultivate the attributes of passion they do not have.
The low percentage of Explorers in the US workforce is not surprising. In fact, it is expected. For decades, companies have focused on developing structures and processes to maximize efficiency and predictability. In this type of environment, passion is viewed as suspicious or too risky. What if the constant experimentation of a questing worker results in a process failure? What happens if a connecting worker accidently shares a company secret?
How can leaders convince a worker who wants to impact a domain that these opportunities exist within the company? These are valid concerns. However, the benefits associated with passion, and the downside of not realizing those benefits, increasingly outweigh the percieved risks. Importantly, workers who have the passion of the Explorer differ from nonpassionate workers in some interesting ways. Explorers are also more likely to switch jobs frequently an Explorer is 18 percent more likely to report switching jobs frequently in their careers than workers with no attributes of passion. Interestingly, however, 45 percent of Explorers report that they are in their dream jobs at their dream companies.
What is at the heart of this last apparent contradiction? Part of the answer lies in the expectations that passionate workers have about their work. By definition, passionate workers are drawn to new challenges and will seek them elsewhere if they are not finding them within the confines of a job or organization. A lucky few reported having both.
Similarly, respondents who report frequent job changes may either be pursuing more challenging roles within the same company or switching companies. Explorers fundamentally thrive on challenges and derive energy from environments that allow them to constantly quest and learn. As a result, workers with the passion of the Explorer are at a lower risk of burning out from working hard, as long as they are in an environment that supports their desire to quest. For these workers, presenting engaging challenges will be more effective motivation than simply demanding more work in exchange for extrinsic rewards.
The tactics companies sometimes use to improve overall performance may be counterproductive or frustrating for Explorers. For example, high performers are sometimes placed in narrowly scoped roles in the hope of using their expertise to improve productivity in a specific area.
This strategy may also be perceived as political, as it tends to keep everyone in their organizational lanes. What would you like to be learning or doing next? It is also important to understand that high-potential workers at risk of leaving a firm may number more than a mere handful of individuals. Overall, around half of all Explorers report being in their dream job but would rather be at a different firm, or not being in their dream job but happy at their company.
While this at-risk group represents only 6 percent of the total population, it represents half of the passionate worker population. Similarly, 54 percent of high-potential workers, who have two out of three of the attributes of the Explorer, are at risk of leaving their firms. What is the difference between a passionate worker and an ambitious one?
Is one better than the other? Both often work extra hours and are performance-oriented. Both have the potential to drive significant performance improvement in the organization. However, while ambition and drive are sufficient in a world that is predictable, it is not enough in a world of constant change and disruption. Ambitious workers tend to be motivated by external rewards and recognition see figure 2. They figure out the performance metrics needed to achieve the next level or reward and work toward those metrics.
Often, they focus more on the metric itself or on enhancing a resume in order to get to the next opportunity than on the actual work. Passionate workers, on the other hand, are internally motivated through their desire to quest, connect, and make an impact. They focus on their own learning and achieving more of their potential rather than on preset metrics or external rewards. They take on new challenges that may not advance or may even be detrimental to their careers, and as a result, pull their teams along with them to new levels of performance and to attempt promising, though possibly risky, ventures.
In the world of the Big Shift, where the need for continual change is becoming more apparent, passionate workers are the ones who can help companies build resilience and navigate the world of constant disruption. Is the typical Explorer a year-old PhD whiz at a start-up, a creative genius in an ad agency, or a midlevel professional at a Fortune firm? Almost everyone has some preconceived notion of what a person who is passionate about his or her work looks like. Many of these stereotypes about passion, however, are incorrect. One common preconception is that passion for work springs from youth.
Alternatively, some believe that passion for work can only come with age, as one gains experience and spends time developing expertise in a job. Our data directly contradict both views. Analysis shows that age does not have a statistically significant impact on worker passion. Workers exhibiting the attributes of the passion of the Explorer can be found at all ages. There is no significant difference between the average age of the Explorers It may be because different individuals follow multiple paths to developing the passion of the Explorer.
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For some, an early desire to make an impact in an industry is so strong that it compels the development of the other two attributes. She knew, based on her experience growing up in Tanzania, that she wanted to make an impact through a company that positively affected the developing world. Christopher Strieter, the winemaker, already exhibited strong questing and connecting dispositions in college. His deep exposure to the wine industry was serendipitous. For some, passion does come with experience. But others whose careers have taken them through work environments that squelched passion may discover the passion of the Explorer only when they enter a new work situation where questing and connecting are encouraged.
In fact, his experience as faculty with some vaunted academic institutions left him disillusioned by the environment. Mentors and the right type of leadership and management play a role in sparking passion. These individuals can act both as catalysts, by sharing their own passion for the industry and work, and as models, by actually demonstrating the skills and tactics for effectively connecting or for using organizational structures to open new avenues for questing. Serendipity can also be a factor in how early or late an individual discovers the domain on which he or she wants to make an impact.
The finding that passion is age-agnostic has immediate implications for businesses looking to revitalize their workforces. First, bringing in young talent is no guarantee that the new workforce will be fundamentally more passionate, and by extension more innovative or better able to improve performance, than the existing workforce. Similarly, businesses should look to older workers not only for their experience but also for their potential passion, which older workers are as likely to have as younger workers.
Businesses should pay attention to encouraging the attributes of the Explorer in professionals of all ages, as well as in apprentices and trainees, in order to deliberately cultivate worker passion and to help the workforce develop new skill sets and expertise. In the era of the overnight start-up, we tend to think that passionate workers would be concentrated in smaller firms. After all, these firms can provide freedom from rigid organizational structures and job descriptions; in fact, they often require employees to wear multiple hats and help solve an array of challenging problems that vary by the week—exactly what an Explorer might be looking for to accelerate his or her own learning.
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Our latest data do not support this preconception, however. We found that large firms are just as effective, or ineffective, at cultivating passion in the workforce as smaller firms. Of course, the survey data cannot reveal the story behind the somewhat narrower passion gap between large and small firms compared to last year.
What is clear is that smaller firms cannot assume that their size alone will make them better able to attract and retain Explorers. Conversely, large firms should not give up on competing for and cultivating talent with the attributes of the Explorer.
In fact, a large firm, if it is not hampered by too many policies and restrictions that squelch passion, can often offer more opportunities for learning and challenge precisely because of its size. However, there must be an intentional effort not to let the seemingly inevitable inertia of a large organization stand in the way of supporting questing and connecting. Wally has passion for golf, family, politics, and good movies. CSP is conferred throughout the International Federation for Professional Speakers only on those who have earned it by meeting strict criteria.
Fewer than ten percent of the 4, speakers who belong to the International Federation for Professional Speakers hold this professional designation. The National Speakers Association is an international association of more than 3, members dedicated to advancing the art and value of those who speak professionally. For more than 31 years, NSA has provided its membership with resources and education designed to advance the skills, integrity and value of professional speakers.
For that I am greatly indebted to you and will never forget what you did and meant to me during this extremely difficult period in my life. I will never forget what you did for me and what you taught me. Working cooperatively we quickly uncovered new options and Wally was able to provide the tools I needed to make positive change.
I highly recommend his approach and service. We are winning awards and achieving success in part because we invited you in to help us. We are very proud our staff thinks so highly of our organization that they voted us Top Workplace for midsize firms and we really believe you helped us get there! The Association The National Speakers Association is an international association of more than 3, members dedicated to advancing the art and value of those who speak professionally.