JLTalley & Associates

Speaking Topics


Years of experience in organizations has surfaced numerous insights about organization effectiveness.  The following are just a few of the topics that have found their way into a presentation. 

We invite inquiries about possible dates and locations.

Building the Conscious Corporation

Companies often hope to use objective feedback to motivate, focus, and reward behavior.  Unfortunately evaluative feedback is vulnerable to a whole host of ills.  Data often produces defensiveness rather than learning.  Debates focus round methodology more often than around meanings.  Procedures can easily become corrupted, so that people are performing "to the measure", even if it is not beneficial to the company overall.

What we really want is a conscious corporation, an organization aware of itself and able to make intelligent choices for the benefit of the organization as a whole.  That requires a strategy for deploying feedback that goes well beyond merely providing evaluative feedback to individuals or groups.  It requires matching the "sensing capability" of the organization with its "response capability".

It requires moving through the organization in the right sequence, and fixing problems at the highest level (vision, systems, structure) before driving change at lower levels (supervisor practices, team skills, etc.).  Done well, such an approach provides a link between strategic planning and operations.


Ill-Structured Problems

Some problems lend themselves to engineering solutions (like product design, or going the moon). problem can be well defined and parsed into manageable pieces. Once solution is found, it clear all. But some are uniquely unmanageable, ill-structured. Merely trying define seems elusive.

Even good solutions generate controversy rather than consensus.   Attempts at solution routinely backfire and change the problem irretrievably. The problem quickly provokes people to take sides rather than come together to seek resolution.  The examples are most obvious in policy areas: welfare reform, financing health care, pornography on the Internet, abortion rights.  In organizations we find that portfolio planning, cooperation across business units, or sustaining morale often act like ill-structured problems.

Treating ill-structured problems as if they were well-structured is not only ineffective, it often leads to genuine damage.  For those interested in enhancing their skills at addressing ill-structured problems, this talk provides a map of the terrain.  It suggests some strategies for facilitating those who are confronted with an ill-mannered dilemma.


Leadership Without Control:
The Implications of Systems Theory for Leadership Styles

Developments in systems theory and complexity theory are generating a new definition of leadership.  We have traditionally thought of leaders as those who set direction and implement feedback and control procedures to monitor progress toward those goals.  If we view the organization as a system, or as a complex adaptive system, we learn that executives do not lead the organization, they ride it!

Their role is no less critical, but they are only effective when they acknowledge the nature of the beast.  Systems have their own directional and control mechanisms...ones which are significantly more powerful than any human construction.


Copyright © 2004 Jerry L. Talley
169 Sherland Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: (650) 967-1444