Articles on Strategy and Design

Norman has written many articles related to the future, strategic leadership, organisational design, resilience and change. Many have been published in leading local and international journals. Here is a selection of some of the articles you can download. If you’d like to download and receive new articles regularly,  subscribe to Norman’s exclusive article service.


Leadership in A Digital Age

What could be considerations leaders seek to influence and add value to the organisation; Are the traditional approaches may still be appropriate in this digital age? …Click on this link to read our latest thinking.

Download the full article here.


Examine the DARK side of your leadership

What could be the noteworthy patterns that might be worth further reflection to see the implications of the shadow side characteristics of leadership?…


Learning from 2017 – a year of Distinctions

2017 will go down as a year of distinctions – twelve months in which we saw extreme positions vigorously pursued by people and commentators. We saw the clash of progressive vs conservative politics, the economic debate of wealth creation vs wealth sharing, the “yes” vs “no” vote, and the unending argument for and against climate change…

Download the full article here.


The Invisible Hand of your  STRATEGY FRAMEWORK 

Any framework used in the strategy process will be underpinned by a set of underlying assumptions. These “invisible forces” can shape the outcome you produce – irrespective of your intentions

Download the full article here.


Using ACCRETION to Develop Strategic Insights

Your ability to generate strategic insights can be enhanced by understanding and following the principles of ACCRETION – the process whereby stellar systems are formed.

Download the full article here.


Boost your Strategic Thinking

Identify the key elements of strategic thinking – and some practical approaches to improving your capability.

Download the full article here.


Strategy is alive and well… and living in Uncertainty

Many people claim that strategy is dead – overcome by the conditions of change and uncertainty. They prefer agility and quick response. But the obituary for strategy is premature – and is based on a series of false assumptions about strategy.  We outline how strategy is both necessary and valuable in conditions of uncertainty and change.

Download the summary article here.

Download the full article here.


Appendix Neuroscience of Mindfulness

Mindfulness creates neural pathways that strengthens the connections between different parts of the brain and that promote better self regulation.

Download the full article here.


This is the year to challenge the NORM!

The events of 2016 give us an opportunity to question our approach to leadership, strategy and organisation. This may be the time to challenge many of the traditional norms in this space.

Download the full article here.


When the going gets tough – the tough get WORSE!

Our performance deteriorates under pressure – but what can we do about it? This summary article outlines the impact of pressure and stress, and suggests some practical ways of improving our performance under pressure. Link to the full article also included.

Download the summary article here.

Download the full article here.


We’re mindful – why isn’t our organisation?

There are many reported benefits of Mindfulness. But how do we create a mindful organisation? We show that it’s quite different to simply developing mindful people.

Download the full article here.

Action is the Enemy of THOUGHT!

Do action oriented cultures provide the best response to a fast changing environment. There are a number of challenges in these organisations – they may be driving out strategic thinking!

Download the full article here.

Why can’t my people be more STRATEGIC?

Executives regularly complain that their staff don’t think or act strategically. We examine three reasons why this may occur – and what you can do about it.

Download the full article here.


The “brain” new world

We seek to understand organisations and their strategy by using the brain as a metaphor. In this sense, the organisation not only HAS a brain, but in many respects, it IS a brain.

Download the full article here.

Want to compete and win like Napoleon – think Neurostrategy!

Napoleon was known for his creative approach to strategy. Unknowingly, he used principles of neuroscience to develop significant strategic insights that tilted the scales in his favour.

Download the full article here.


Why people can’t see the FUTURE

Neuroscience offers some new insights into the challenge of change and strategy execution in organisations. This article explores why people cannot see the future as clearly as the change leader expects.

Download the full article here.

Do we need Customer-Centricity (in our organisation?)

Becoming customer-centric has achieved an almost cult-like status. But it may not suit every organisation – and there other ways of being successful through meeting customer needs. We examine the requirements of customer-centricity and suggest that customer-focus may be more appropriate in certain circumstances, and not in others.

Download the full article here.

Stay out of the DARK room (when developing strategy)

Many organisations develop strategy in the same way as the old-fashioned analogue photography. After taking the picture, the photo was developed in a dark room and we had to wait to see what we had captured. Today, we can use a digital camera, view the resultant picture immediately, and retake it if we are unhappy with the result. Using this analogy, we explore a better way to develop strategy – by involving a wider set of perspectives and views and refining it until we get the outcome we want.

Download the full article here. 

Bridging Strategy and Execution

The separation between strategy and execution is a common – but artificial – concept. While we know that both the development and execution of strategy is sub-optimised when we separate them, many practical difficulties exist in attempting to integrate the two processes. We use design thinking to offer some practical approaches and examples of how it can be done.

Download the full article here.

What our Brain teaches us about ‘good’ strategy

Hard scientific research now backs up traditional soft skills. We show why ‘good’ strategy is actually dependant on the functionality of the brain. As a social organ, the brain has some surprising things to teach us about effective strategic management.

Download the article here: What our brain teaches us about good strategy


Talent Management is DEAD

Talent Management is normally focused on the recruitment, development and rewarding of high-potential people in your organisation. But this focus on the individual may not create the value we expect in complex organisations. See how the context of a complex organisation can change this argument.

Download the article here:  Talent management is dead

Four tools to lead complex organisations

Complex organisations respond poorly to conventional approaches to performance management and control. Our work reveals new guidelines for leading complex organisations – and four tools that can be used to drive effectiveness and performance improvement.

Download the article here: Four tools to lead complex organisations

The “Management Mirage” – things are not always what they seem

Complex organisations often “conceal” the true meaning of things. As superficial look at a particular situation can give you the wrong impression and get you to pursue an incorrect course of strategy. By using the “inverted pyramid”,  we can move from the detail to the big picture and understand the whole situation – and then choose the correct course of action.

Download the article here: Management mirage – why things are not what they seem

Why “Best Practice” may NOT be best practice

Adopting “Best Practice” solutions seems a sensible approach to improving performance in your organisation.

However, our research suggests that this often fails to improve performance in modern complex organisations. Indeed, it may even destroy value and disturb the overall integrity of your organisation.

Download the article here: Why “Best Practice may NOT be best practice

How to recognise BAD strategy – and what to do about it

Business failure is strongly related to poor quality strategy. But what is “bad” strategy and how do we recognise it? How can we create “good” strategy?

Download the article: How to recognise bad strategy – and what to do about it


Has your Innovation program run out of Snake-Oil?

There is no magic snake-oil that can make your innovation program more effective. Instead, leaders should avoid the “big-bang” approach of pursuing a single big winner, and set up a program that addresses three important areas of innovation in the business.

Download the article here:  Has your innovation program run out of Snake-Oil?

How to drive Innovation through your Business Model

Leaders can create a flow of innovation that is strategic – ie directed at the source of competitive advantage for the organisation. How does this occur? By designing it into the business model for the organisation. But there are three important design elements that have to be part of the business model.

Download the article here: How to create innovation flow in your business model

How Innovation can disrupt your Market and Competitors

The drivers of growth have changed significantly in these difficult times. The quest is for disruptive approaches that change the rules of the game and produces competitive advantage. But how does disruptive growth occur? And how does innovation produce the difference that is so necessary to disrupt the market and competitors alike?

Download the article here: How Innovation can disrupt your Market and Competitors

How to drive Innovation though your Organisation

Leaders who drive creativity and innovation through their organisations don’t necessarily have to be creative or innovative themselves. They just need to understand the Creative Ecology of their organisation. Developing this Creative Ecology means focusing on four key building blocks.

Download the article here: How to drive innovation through your organisation

The Living Organisation Collection

The Living Organisation is a collection of articles, short papers and blogs I wrote during 2011. Some have appeared in a variety of publications, while others were written as part of my monthly series of Leadership Insights.
They are a collection of views and perspectives on The Living Organisation. Living Organisations are those that may be described as both adaptive and resilient in these turbulent conditions we experience post the GFC.

View the collection of articles

View the summary of key ideas


Eight Traits of Resilience

Our study of resilient organisations has revealed 8 key characteristics of resilience. Some of these were to be expected, while others left us quite surprised…..

Download – Eight Traits of Resilience

A Question of Focus – Not Balance

There is much anecdotal support for the notion of balance. We seek it in our personal lives and are drawn to it as a desirable attribute in our organisation. But the evidence suggests that successful organisations are focused. And focus implies imbalance…..

Download – A question of focus – not balance

Economy of Scale is a Myth

The drive for increased efficiencies has led many organisations down the path of centralising and standardising services. These so-called shared services are expected to reduce operating costs while maintaining levels of customer focus. Sadly, economies of scale do NOT produce efficiencies or cost savings in knowledge-based service organisations. Read why this is….

Download – Economy of Scale is a Myth

Release Your Strategic Intuition

Strategic intuition is the combination of your creative imagination and rational logic. If practiced correctly, it is particularly useful for setting strategic direction in uncertain and changing conditions.

Download – Release your Strategic Intuition

The Leadership Metronome

There is a natural rhythm about effective leadership. I use the metronome as a metaphor to explore how to improve your own approach….

Click here to download – The Leadership Metronome

Times are a changing – Why aren’t our organisations?

The successive waves of technology that have swept through he world have given rise to different organisational forms. Today, the “machine” model of organisation dominates our thinking. But the new information and communication technologies, coupled with ongoing change and uncertainty in our environment, has caused major difficulties for this organisational form. Is the prevailing form of organisation changing?……

Subscribe to Read – Times are a changing – Why aren’t our organisations?

Design Your Future – The Role of Organisation Architecture

Leaders have a somewhat indirect role in shaping the strategy of their organisation. Their major contribution is focused on the design and shaping of the organisation’s architecture – because this focuses effort and resources within the organisation. The paper outlines how the architecture is designed and the impact this has on strategy.

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There’s No Future in Predicting the Future

Conditions of uncertainty and continuous change mean that conventional business planning is quite ineffective. We need different approaches to setting strategy in these difficult times. This paper outlines 7 key principles that underpin effective planning when faced with uncertain and changing markets.

Subscribe to Read – There’s no future in predicting the future

Not Getting the Results You Want? Your Design May Be Wrong

Some 50% of strategy failure is due to poor organisation design. We know that organisation design is the ultimate expression of your strategy – so why do we often get it wrong. Explore the 7 questions you should ask of your organisation design.

Subscribe to Read – Not getting the results you want? Your design may be wrong

The Living Organisation

Living Organisations respond and adpat to their changing environments. They display five vital signs that indicate their level of health. If these are not managed correctly, the organisation can begin a decline that may even lead to its demise.

Subscribe to Read – The Living Organisation

Lift Your Organisation’s Knowledge Quotient

Your organisation’s knowledge quotient (KQ) is the manner in which knowledge is created, exchanged and used through the organisation. A higher KQ is associated with increased levels of competitiveness. The article demonstrates how leaders can lift their organisation’s KQ.

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The Future Builders

Leaders who plan for the future during periods of great change follow certain practices to embrace the uncertainty. By using an approach called FutureBuilding, they prepare their organisations for a range of conditions they could encounter in the future. Furthermore, they seem to adopt a number of interesting personal practices that assist them in creating their own future.

Subscribe to Read – The Future Builders

Competing on Thought Leadership

Australian enterprise lags much of the developed world in building the “knowledge quotient” of their organisations. While there are several extraneous factors that contribute to this lack of creativity and innovation, leadership has key role to play in the development of enterprise Thought Leadership. Several approaches are identified for leaders to foster the development of Thought Leadership in their organisation.

Subscribe to Read – Competing on Thought Leadership

In Pursuit of Personal Excellence

Are exceptional people different? Do they do different things? An observation of  people pursuing personal excellence reveals a number of behaviours that seem to stand out. This article looks beyond the more obvious factors and identifies eight things they do that often go unnoticed.

Subscribe to Read – In Pursuit of Personal Excellence

Creating Feminine Values In Organisations

Modern organisations display a (sometime unconscious) bias towards traditional masculine values, often at the cost of organisational effectiveness. Feminine values are shown to be more closely associated with the capabilities that organisations require in fast changing and competitive markets.

But organisations need a balance of both masculine and feminine values in order to succeed. Leadership strategies for achieving this balance are outlined.

Subscribe to Read – Creating Feminine Values in Organisations

Over The Horizon Leadership

Leading in conditions of uncertainty is like sailing uncharted seas – you need to ability to see over the horizon to steer your organisation safely to its destination. This suggests a range of important skills for leaders to develop.

Subscribe to Read – Over the Horizon Leadership


How to lead in an Uncertain Future

Leading in uncertain times requires a different approach to understanding the future. The paper outlines four key practices to succeed in an uncertain future

Download – How to lead in an uncertain future