E-Residency: How Estonia is Advancing Globalization

Estonia is a tiny nation in the European Baltic region. By airplane, it is about two hours north of Germany. With a population of 1.3 million people, it is the smallest member of the European Union (EU). However, despite its size, it is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU. And their progressive growth may be further fueled by a 2014 decision to offer e-Residency to you and me!

“The Republic of Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency — a transnational digital identity available to anyone in the world interested in administering a location-independent business online.”

Furthermore, their promotional materials tell us that e-residents can:

    • Establish and administer a company online
    • Conduct all the banking online, e.g. make electronic bank transfers
    • Have access to international payment service providers
    • Digitally sign documents (e.g. annual reports, contracts) within the company as well as with external partners
    • Declare taxes online

At the heart of this landmark decision to offer e-residency is Estonia’s ability to effectively leverage technology. As a result of their free Wi-Fi, immense fiber-optic infrastructure and secure data exchange system, Estonians can electronically sign almost every document. In fact, it is purported that they are so integrated that citizens can file their taxes in less than five minutes. This competitive advantage provides Estonians with secure, seamless transactions and the ability to move information quickly. It also opens the door for people around the world to make use of this same system. For example, I can establish a business in Estonia as an e-citizen because I do not need to physically be present. Estonia has realized that digital information is borderless and built an immigration system that embraces it. Furthermore, they are hoping this strategy will stimulate the economy and broaden their tax base.

A few weeks ago I blogged about two counter-trends – globalization and tribalism (See Going Tribal: When Globalization Fails). In summary, society either seems to be polarizing to one of two extremes; we embrace the complex and messy aspects of globalization, or, we look inward and protect ourselves from outside forces. Estonia has clearly placed their betting chips on globalization. Their press release materials conclude by stating, “With e-Residency, you can become part of the digital society revolution taking place in our dynamic Northern European country. You can become an e-Estonian!

Perhaps you and I will have the opportunity to become an Estonian e-Citizen next!

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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Estonian e-Residency

Photo Credit: Gadling

Gen Z Part II: 10 Facts and 5 Organizational Implications

Last week’s post about Gen Z generated a lot of traffic and follow up content (see Gen Z Just Graduated from College Infographic). As a result, I have developed an unplanned Part II as today’s post. The following content has been gleaned from a study by Universum of 55,000 high school students and recent high school graduates in 46 countries.

Ten Facts

  1. Gen Z’s will eventually total 60 million people.
  2. In a single day, Gen Z’s will often multi-task across a handful of screens, expecting “seamless integration.
  3. Due to their immersion in technology since birth, Gen Z workers may (ironically) be more focused and directed when it comes to technology than previous generations.
  4. Expect Gen Z to be more realistic about career opportunities, yet more idealistic about their employers’ social profiles.
  5. Gen Z’s will demand a diverse set of digital tools, both offered by the company and publicly accessible.
  6. With Generation Z there is less social media about oneself and more about the community (Colleen Broomall).
  7. Gen Z’s appear more savvy than Millennials regarding technology and work process.
  8. Fully 77% of Gen Z’s indicate they expect to work harder than previous (Robert Half).
  9. About 53%of Gen Z workers would rather communicate face-to-face than through instant message or videoconference.
  10. More than half of them want to start their own company. This entrepreneurial spirit exceeds that of Millennials

Five Organizational Implications

  1. Entrepreneurism is in their DNA, and workplace dynamics must support that independent streak.
  2. This generation’s is comfortable with physical mobility and mobile tools. As a result, they will create office spaces or zones which offer a variety of ways to digitally work and interact — collaboratively, individually, and socially.
  3. They are seeking a work environment where there is a lot of open dialogue, the way Netflix is run, where it’s a team effort (Colleen Broomall).
  4. Gen Z’s value their reputation and personal brand. As a result, this generation will value privacy in the workplace and demand employers respond accordingly.
  5. IT departments that invest in self-teaching tools will profit. Gen Z is adept at learning how to use applications through watching YouTube-style training videos and studying self-paced online modules.

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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, Gen X’er and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Sources: BMC.

Image Credit: Eduventures


Linking Personal Success & Organizational Culture

If you read my blogs you know that I am a firm believer in Peter Drucker’s adage that “organizational culture eats strategy for lunch”. In other words, having the best people is more important than having the best strategy (a premise that Patrick Lencioni outlines well in his book called The Advantage).

When we apply this principle personally, it also means that we need to ensure that our personal cultural preference fits the organizational culture where we work. No matter how great a company is, a misalignment between your preferred culture and you organizations culture will create challenges.

So how do we determine this fit?

Adam Grant, a professor and NY Times columnist recently tackled this issue in an excellent article. He begins by suggesting that we ask a simple question when we interview at a company:

Tell me one thing that makes your organizational culture unique.

Research shows that the responses to this question are going to be unique but will also fit into one of several broad themes”. Here are four of the most common themes to watch for.

“Story 1: Is the Big Boss Human?

The plot involves an authority figure who has a chance to act as if she’s better than everyone else. The insurance company president who takes his turn fielding calls on the company’s switchboard throughout the year: He’s one of us. The executive who doesn’t let anyone use his parking spot — even when he’s on vacation — maintains an air of superiority. This is one of the big debates about Steve Jobs: Was he a narcissist who felt entitled to special treatment or a leader who sought to bring out the excellence in all his employees?

Story 2: Can the Little Person Rise to the Top?

The uplifting version of this story is a Horatio Alger tale. Colleen Barrett begins her Southwest Airlines career as a secretary and lands in the presidency; Jim Ziemer starts at Harley-Davidson as a freight elevator operator and rides all the way to the corner office. In the more depressing variation, a low-status employee achieves great things but is denied promotions.

Story 3: Will I Get Fired?

The organization may need to conduct layoffs: What does the leader do? Contrast the former Walmart chief executive Michael Duke, who slashed more than 13,000 jobs while raking in $19.2 million, with Charles Schwab executives’ taking pay cuts to avoid downsizing — and giving employees who lost their jobs a bonus when they were rehired.

Story 4: How Will the Boss React to Mistakes?

In many organizations, employees are fired for errors. Some stories point to a different culture, like the famous one at IBM in the 1960s. After an employee made a mistake that cost the company $10 million, he walked into the office of Tom Watson, the C.E.O., expecting to get fired. “Fire you?” Mr. Watson asked. “I just spent $10 million educating you.”

Grant goes on to point out a very interesting lesson; “Take a close look at these stories, and you’ll see that they deal with three fundamental issues:

  1. Justice: Is this a fair place?
  2. Security: Is it safe to work here?
  3. Control: Can I shape my destiny and have influence in this organization?”

Understanding your own preferences for these three things will help you understand what is important to you. Some of us thrive amidst injustice. Others require a high level of security. Still others are looking for jobs where they can just do their work and clock out – they don’t need high levels of control.

If you are already employed, this is still a good question to ask yourself; what is one thing that makes your organizational culture unique? How does your organizational ‘story’ match up to your personal need for justice, security and control? The alignment of your organizations dominant story and your own needs is where you will find your employment sweet spot.

Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman an educator, futurist, consultant and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman


Adam Grant (Dec. 20, 2015). The one question you should ask about every new job. The New York Times on-line.

Priorities for University Recruitment Efforts

As new college and university students from fall 2015 settle into their classes, student recruitment offices have already shifted their efforts to recruiting the fall 2016 class. To help with these recruitment efforts, I annually highlight the fantastic e-Expectations report that Noel Levitz has conducted for the past ten years (by the way, Noel Levitz is now called Ruffalo Cody).  2015 E-expectations

This research project examines the expectations of college-bound high school students as well as how their expectations have changed. While a full read of the report is highly advisable (you can access it by clicking the graphic to your right), today’s blog provides a quick list of ten insights which should influence your recruitment efforts in the year ahead.

  1. Your college website is your most valuable recruitment tool. When prospective students need answers to their questions 71% of high school seniors go to your web site (and 58% of juniors). The next most important ways they gets answers are by emailing or calling you and contacting their High School counselor. Together, the non-website categories add up to 35% which highlights the paramount importance of your web site!
  2. Your website is also your most valuable advertisement! While we tend to think of advertising as something we pay for, I encourage you to think of your web site as your most effective ad. Are you investing in the resource appropriately?

E Expectations 2015 Web site

3. The value of print materials is declining and is being replaced by…..your website! Students want more information on the web and less information by mail.

4. About 7 of 10 high school students search for colleges on their mobile devices. Is your web site built for mobile? If not, your web site experience is likely frustrating for your potential students!

5. Search engines are your best friend. About 85% of students find college web sites by using search engines. Is your website search engine friendly?

6. Programs matter most! You must prioritize your web site content based on what students want to know! The chart below reveals what is important!

E Expectations 2015 Web site2

7. You must clearly communicate the value of a degree. To today’s students (and their parents!), a bachelor’s degree is an investment. You need to prove it!

E Expectations 2015 Web site3

8. Colleges must become social media friendly to get students attention! The top five social media channels juniors and seniors use (in descending order) are YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter. Snapchat and Twitter use is increasing when compared to previous years while Facebook use is decreasing

9. Text messaging is acceptable! A sales text messages on my phone isn’t OK but it is on my kids phones!

E Expectations 2015 Web site4

10. Conversations count! While marketing reinforces your key messages, it is conversations that really impact your audience. Which areas of your campus are engaged in these conversations?

E Expectations 2015 Web site5

Twenty-five years ago I sat behind a table welcoming freshman and their parents to my college. At that time we did not have a web site, Facebook was not invented and we were impressed by cell phones that were the size of a brick! However, in a mere quarter-century it is these relatively new tools that dominate the student recruitment landscape. Imagine what it will look like in the next 25 years!

I wish you every success in your recruitment efforts this year!


Jeff Head Shot 3.jpgDr. Jeff Suderman is a lifelong learner, consultant, professor and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman



Ruffalo Cody (2015).  2015 E-Expectations Report: The Online Preferences of College-Bound Seniors and Their Parents. Available at https://www.ruffalonl.com/papers-research-higher-education-fundraising/2015/2015-e-expectations-report



Filtering Life: Is it Need to Know or Neat to Know?

Over the past few weeks I have been repeating a phrase to several of my clients:

Is this information need to know or neat to know?

This simple principle was learned from a researcher I used to work with. As he assisted me with marketing research projects, I would often ask him to add a new question to the survey (usually many new questions!). He would consistently push back and ask me this question – is this need or neat to know?

What he did was marvelously simple! He made me re-examine my strategic goals. When I could show him how the new question related to my project goals it was added. When it did not align, no matter how cool the question was, he would strike it from the list.

This principle is incredibly important in modern society. We live in a world that is information rich. Our children have more access to information on a Kindle than ancient Alexandrian libraries ever had! However, this privilege means that our choices about what to access and what to pass on are more important than ever.

We are barraged by media who tell us everything they are saying is “need to know!”. It’s not.

We are confronted by stories in our news-feed every day that promise to tell us Three things that will _______ (fill in the blank with something that will change your life forever). They don’t.

We are presented with countless business opportunities and strategies that we must consider. We shouldn’t.


So what do you need to know? This question is best answered by examining your priorities. Information is a powerful tool. But to use it effectively, you need to use it in response to your ‘needs’. And those are much different than your ‘neats’.


Do You Work in an Organizational Anarchy?

Understanding exactly how you come to a decision is a complex undertaking. Understanding how organizations make decisions is even more challenging! However, when you understand how organizations make decisions you can lead more effectively.

Both effective and ineffective organizations make decisions. What is of interest to organizational leaders is understanding whether their decision making processes lead them to make good or bad choices. Organizational anarchy is a term used to describe organizations that have a poor decision-making environment. This model gives us a means of discovering how to avoid bad decisions. Researchers have discovered that organizational anarchies share three common ingredients.

  1. Unclear goals. The organization operates with a variety of inconsistent and ill-defined goals. In lieu of having goals, organizational anarchies are driven by a loose collection of ideas. Lacking a coherent structure, they discover their preferences after they act. They fail to base their choices and actions on intentional goals (Cohen, March & Olsen).
    • The antidote to this anarchy is achieved by goal definition. Clearly defined and consistent goals eliminate ambiguity.
  2. Non-existent or ambiguous processes. In organizational anarchies processes are not understood by members. Instead, they operate on the basis of simple trial-and-error procedures. These procedures are not intentional but rather,  are the residue of learning from the past experience or accidents, and are sometimes pragmatic inventions of necessity (Cohen, March & Olsen).
    • The antidote to this anarchy is achieved through process clarity. How, when and where things should be done decreases these harmful practices and the tendency to recreate the wheel.
  3. Poorly-defined roles. In organizational anarchies employees vary in the amount of time and effort they devote. This creates fluidity or an inconsistent state. When the roles of an organization are uncertain and changing we struggle with accountability and execution (Cohen, March & Olsen).
    • The antidote to this anarchy is role definition.  Determining who is responsible for what combats the tendency to let things slide or wait for someone else to do it.

Most of us have worked in situations that can be described as an organizational anarchy. In fact, organizational anarchy will describe a portion of almost any organizations activities (Cohen, March & Olsen). However, the model of organizational anarchy presents us with a simple litmus test to examine our decision-making culture. Understanding the ingredients of healthy organizations is not complex. However, they are much more difficult to implement. But drifting into organizational anarchy is a much higher price to pay than the cost of investing in goal definition, process clarity and role definition.


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Jeff Suderman is an anti-anarchist, consultant and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman


A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice. Michael D. Cohen, James G. March and Johan P. Olsen.
Administrative Science Quarterly – Vol. 17, No. 1 (Mar., 1972), pp. 1-25.

The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: An Agent-based Reconstruction. Alessandro Lomim and Guido Fioretti. Simulation Modelling Practice and Theory – Volume 16, Issue 2 (February 2008), pp. 192–217.



The B-Word: What BUSY really means

I encourage you to evaluate how often you say the word ‘busy’ each day. Over the past year, I have been pondering the meanings of the word busy. It has crept into our vernacular and is so common that we likely do not realize how many times we say or hear the word each day. The problem with this simple word is that it is used as a euphemism. Underneath this four letter B-word, masquerades a definition.

Here are six things that I believe the B-word really means.

1. I cannot prioritize. Therefore, I feel compelled to do everything and that makes me feel busy.

2. I need to feel important. Our culture places a high value on busyness. Therefore, if I tell people that I am busy, it must mean that I am important. Can you feel good about yourself if you are not busy?

3. I cannot say “no”. Of the many demands on my life, I feel compelled to do them all, or at the least, as many as possible.

4. I’m too busy for you. By stating that I am busy, I am really saying that I don’t want to spend time with you.

5. I don’t know how to be still. Keeping busy can be a way of suppressing things that we do not want to deal with (if I’m busy, I don’t have time to think about it). Alternately, sometimes we haven’t learned how to embrace a non-busy environment (our media rich-culture makes it difficult to be undistributed).

The last reason is really a positive use of the B-word, but it still requires you to rethink how you use of it:

6. I really love my life…and my schedule is full of things I love to do. If this is the case, you are in a good place! However, you may want to consider the different ways people interpret your use of the word. Is there a more effective way to express a full life without it being misinterpreted (hint: the body language of a person that uses the phrase to mean they love their lives is very different than the previous reasons!).

As leaders, we need to assess how often we use the word busy. If we use it often, then we need to assess why we use it. When we have schedules full of things that we love to do, we’re not busy. Instead, I believe that we are fulfilled.

Whose Call is This?: Creating Decision Making Clarity

Does your team understand who has the responsibility to make a decision?

A key source of office conflict is related to lack of clarity in decision making. When people have different expectations about who gets to make a decision, frustration often results. There is a simple principle that outlines the four types of decisions that can be made. Providing your team with clarity about which of these styles is being used will help eliminate frustration.

  1. Decisions I make

This clearly states that I am the one who will make the decision.

“We need to determine which company will cater our golf event. I would like you to compile all the proposals and I will use the results to make my decision.

  1. Decisions I make after consulting with you

This process informs the other person that you value their input. However, it also clearly communicates that you will be the one making the final decision.

“We need to determine which company will cater our golf event. I would like you to compile all the proposals for me. Then we will meet and discuss them as I would appreciate your input since you have worked on a lot of the details. After that, I will make the final decision.”

  1. Decisions you make

This provides clear instruction which inform someone that they are in charge of the decision.

“We need to decide which company will cater our golf event. I would like you to review the quotes and make a final decision. Please stay within our budget and speak with me if you have questions or problems.”

  1. Decisions we make together

This is consensus-style of decision making. Typically, all participants have equal authority in the final decision.

“We need to choose a company to cater our golf event. To accomplish this, we will meet together, review the proposals and score them. After that, we will use a voting system to decide between our top three options.”

While this seems like an amazingly simple concept, it is equally amazing how workplace conflict often stems from a lack of clarity. Consider these three examples:

o   Ryan storms out of his bosses’ office and begins ranting that he never listens to his ideas about the golf tournament. The problem: Ryan’s boss never told him that he was not a part of the selection process. As a result, he felt entitled to be a part of something that was not his responsibility.

o   Nicole is scolded by her boss for not following through on a job he gave her. The problem: Her boss never communicated that she was in charge of that decision. As a result, she was waiting for her boss to make the decision so nothing occurred.

o   The Marketing department is stuck in a meeting that won’t end because no one is making a decision about the upcoming golf tournament. The problem: No one communicated that the final decision was going to be made by the entire team. As a result, people are waiting for the boss to make a decision.

Do you have any examples of how this has played out in your workplace? Have you discovered any other simple ways to reduce workplace conflict?

Calculating Meeting ROI

In an earlier post (Meeting Bane or Benefit?), I noted that having a clear meeting purpose helps limit attendee frustration and conflict. At times, cancelling a meeting may be the best way to do this! Sometimes meetings are unnecessary.

In their book Rework, the authors contend that many meetings are preventable. Before hosting a meeting, consider the following questions:

  • Why am I hosting this meeting? Is it necessary?
  • Does everyone on this list need to attend?
  • Is there a less time-consuming way to achieve the outcomes of this meeting?

Another interesting way to view meetings is by considering ‘Meeting ROI’.[i] To calculate a meeting-return-on-investment, total the participant hours spent in a meeting and then multiply it by their average salary. For example:

Meeting Value Formula

Fried and Hansson provide a few other interesting meeting ideas. Take a look and see which ones look helpful for you:

  1. Set a timer. When it rings the meeting is over – period!
  2. Invite as few people as possible.
  3. Always have a clear agenda.
  4. Begin with a specific problem.
  5. Meet at the site of the problem instead of conference room. Point to real things and suggest real changes.
  6. End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it.

I’d love to hear of your insights about ways to make meetings effective.

[i] Fried, Jason & Hansson, David (2010). Rework. New York: Crown Publishing. P. 110.