Managing the Distributed Workforce

After acknowledging unemployment, the most obvious problem created by COVID’s disruption of work-as-usual is the complexity of the sudden disarray in time and location commitments by individual workers.

We are already getting accustomed to managing this problem by attending to three “channels” of availability seen as the source of workers for co-operative functions. These same channels are also expected to have different characteristics as environments for working.

The onsite / hybrid / remote trio of channels presupposes that each has a compelling reason to be selected. …

The role of control is changing in the face of market dynamics, employee cultural diversities, and innovation both expected and unexpected.

In the following, we walk through these related aspects of control:

  • Managing control itself
  • Controlling Management
  • Distribution of Control
  • “Organization”, defined
  • Risk versus Opportunity
  • Prioritization
  • Coordination
  • Technique
  • and finally, a logical model defining and distinguishing Control
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What can Change?

In the context of organizations, the default circumstance is that included persons see their individual presence as both a cause and an effect of the character of the organization.

From one person to another, the main kind of variation in that lies in how the two influences are felt (perceived), on balance. Some people need the cause/effect balance to be weighed differently than what other people need. (More cause? More effect? Equal?)

Yet in all cases, the individual arrives at their felt position in the following way.


We currently caution against taking a default position that managed change is done with projects.

This caution is important because it is necessary to acquire and exercise management versatility in producing solutions to the problem of change.

Companies must understand the difference between the success factors of a change and the success factors of a project. And they must be able to determine if and why a project would be the best use of time and resources to pursue a needed solution.

In that light, it is also necessary to be able to determine whether a project that has failed…

What is enablement?

We normally don’t spend any time debating what is meant by “UN-able” or “DIS-abled”.

Conceptually, our interest is on having the ability to get something done, even without specifying how.

Consequently, our view is sensitive to things that prevent or inhibit required (productive) activity.

Logically, then, “enablement” consists of things that are provided (permission, influence, methods, support) to create and maintain required (productive) activity.

Three key enablement principles

Enablement always presumes the presence of a Producer — a willing, able and ready party that will be the intended “doer”.

Key principles of enablement are that the environment, the willingness, and the ability should each…

Recently I’ve been testing out the idea that the word “change” is becoming ineffective at anything much more than contrasting with
performance” and “operations”.

How does that make sense? After all, the unifying aspect of the three is that they are why management is deemed a “requirement”. And that requirement is based on the presumption that without management, all three things will happen anyway, just not necessarily in a way that we want them to.

Completely ignoring any political correctness, then, the punchline is that we intend to control enough variables so that the likelihood is raised that we will…

ITIL: From Change “Management” to Change “Enablement”… Why?

ITIL — the IT Infrastructure Library — is the “gold standard” collection of recommended best practices in managing “IT Services” for businesses. Its recent evolution from version 3 to version 4 was a globally anticipated event; most often, practitioners in IT management are encouraged, if not required, to join the discipline with a familiarity, and adoption, of the way ITIL labels and describes things.

The version 4 rollout of ITIL had the interesting twist of re-labelling what had previously been called Change Management, to Change Control. …

We need a handful of principles to use when considering Design Thinking. They don’t exist yet. I’ll begin.

#1 — For hardcore male performance managers, Rogaine, Viagra, and Design Thinking may seem to belong in the same category. They don’t.

#2 — Design Thinking helps to discover problems worth solving, and then discover solutions worth using. Design Thinking does not apply to all problems. The best proof of this is that Design Thinking does nothing at all to stem the relentless tidal wave of… unvetted articles about Design Thinking. …

Perhaps spurred on by experiencing the limitations of analytics, sense-making erupted as a “thing” when it got that portable name, freeing it from being restricted to any one or two special domains.

Given the name, it immediately seduced like the discovery of a new planet, and the mini-industry of codifying its practice was underway on two paths: a religious one (truth!), and a scientific one (proof!).

In the next few minutes, we’re going to undo it on both paths, after which we will all go back to doing what interests us the most — following our preferences — as we…

With so much of daily work life now being unusual for so many people, one of the biggest questions of all is about which kinds of businesses will be permanently changed from now on and which kinds will continue to try to revert to the previous “normal”.

As strategists, some of us want to aim at that question by determining the pros and cons of going either way, then correlating business models with those pros and cons.

The correlation should leave us with “profiles” that categorize businesses.

Then, in any category or profile, some companies will actually be in better…

Malcolm Ryder

Malcolm is a strategist, solution developer and knowledge management professional in both profit and non-profit companies across business, IT and the arts.

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