Steve Spear - Participant

All organizations share a common challenge, regardless of sector. This is managing the contributions of people—sometimes a few, other times many thousands—towards shared purpose, which ranges from upstream conceptualization and discovery, through development, design, and ultimately delivery. Sometimes shared purpose is pursued as idiosyncratic ones-off and other times as repeatable undertakings.

As common the challenge, a few achieve shared purpose better, faster, and more effectively than is typical. In doing so, they generate outsize rewards for all stakeholders. Steve Spear’s work—expressed in sound theory, influential publications, and impactful proofs in practice—explains why the few are so much better and helps others become distinctive standouts in their own right.

The explanatory theory is straightforward. You win by ‘discovering your way to greatness’ faster than anyone else. How so? If our teams pursue similar ventures (or confront each other adversarially), and if you succeed and we don’t, it is because you knew better what to do and how to do it and had the requisite skills to act on that knowhow, whereas our side had insufficient capability. Those capabilities are not innate, of course, they need to be developed, often from scratch, so higher velocity, broader-based, more persistent learning gives you an edge in terms of being more resilient, reliable, and agile.

How you organize complex collaborative systems for rapid learning, structure organizations that overlay them, and imbue powerful learning dynamics is the focus of Spear’s writing, which has appeared in an unusual range of venues. “Fixing Healthcare from the Inside” won a McKinsey Award from Harvard Business Review. The High Velocity Edge earned the Crosby Medal from ASQ, and five of Spear’s articles won Shingo Prizes. “Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System” is a leading HBR reprint and part of the “lean” canon. Medical journals like Annals of Internal Medicine, Academic Medicine, and Health Services Research have run his work, as have general outlets like the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Fortune, and USA Today. New material is under review at the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings, with another piece submitted to a pharmaceutical research journal.






Follow On