XPLANE’s Partner Rackspace Helps Navigate Your Journey to the Cloud

Big businesses need to rethink the way they work if they want to avoid extinction. Now, winning companies are ones that can quickly respond to market changes, adapt to business fluctuations, and ensure that the entire org is all moving toward the same goals. To provide companies with these skills, our partners at Rackspace are proud to announce their newest venture: Global Solutions and Services.

As Rackspace’s Vice President of Global Solutions and Services, Rachel Cassidy says it, “IT transformation is critical for companies that want to stay ahead of disruptions while accelerating growth and innovation, but it’s not easy. Rackspace is here to help as little or as much as our customers need at any point along their cloud journey, including up-front planning, assessment, design, migration, management, and continuous optimization.” Many companies don’t currently have the skills available to dedicate to this type of transformation, the experience and lessons learned from doing these types of transformations every day, or the tools and methodologies to help streamline processes and provide best practice support for this type of transformation. Rackspace’s new professional service package helps businesses begin their transformation.


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Why Organizations Need to Innovate Their Business Model Now


An Interview with Innovation Junkie Saul Kaplan

Over the past year I’ve been learning more and more about business model innovation through the masters, Business Innovation Factory (BIF). It has changed the way I see business innovation, differentiation, and competitive advantage. In hopes of sharing this view with our community, I interviewed BIF’s Founder and Chief Catalyst, Saul Kaplan.

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The Barrier to Company-Wide Innovation



This month, XPLANE founder Dave Gray was interviewed on the Fjord Fika podcast with Andy Polaine discussing the corporate push toward innovation. How do large companies create a culture of innovation and successfully make it stick? The innovation lab trend of Silicon Valley might be a good start, but most of the time it doesn’t address the real barrier to innovation: the mindset of your people.

Here are my four takeaways from Dave and Andy’s discussion to get your team on the right path and in the mindset of corporate innovation.

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A Business Within The Business: Aligning Your Employees, Managers, and Owners

A lot of problems in business could be solved if we could align the interests of employees and managers with owners. Is there a way to get everyone to act like owners? The answer is yes, but not without changing the structure of your company in ways that might make you a bit uncomfortable.

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Becoming a Values-based, Purpose-led Organization: Lessons from XPLANE’s Journey to Become a B-Corp


XPLANE has been a values-based and purpose-led organization since our founding in 1993, and I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve just become a Certified B Corporation as well. We have joined over 1,900 other businesses in over 40 nations that believe business can serve society, as well as shareholders.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with B-Corporations, we are a community that believes business can be a force for good and deliver “triple bottom line” results—delivering profits while also making positive impacts for our environment and our society. To earn the credential, XPLANE was certified by the non-profit B Lab for meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. We were evaluated on how our practices impact our employees, our community, the environment, and our customers.

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Conscious Business Practice: Vision and Strategic Planning for Non-Profits

Did you know that if Wal-Mart were a country, its GDP would be larger than 157 of our world’s nations? Dozens of Fortune 500 companies are larger than the GDP of many nations, and the Global 2000 accounts for over $38 Trillion in annual revenue, nearly half of the Gross World Product. Do you want to change the world? Well, changing the world of business is clearly the place to start. Business, as a force of change around the globe, is more concentrated, and more impactful, than at any time before us in history. 

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Why Flat Teams Need Nurturing in Work Magazine

"In today's complex and evolving business environment, many companies are creating flat teams..." 

XPLANE consultant Nina Narelle was interviewed for a short piece in Work magazine this winter in response to her piece The Silent Killer of Flat Teams The article reads...

"Without any one member directing the others, “these teams hold the promise of agility, innovation and speed – the magic trifecta in a rapidly shifting market”, says Nina Narelle. But flat teams often fail to liveup to this promise because businesses treat them like machines, applying rules and processes as inputs and expecting predictable outputs. Describing tensions between the horizontal nature of the teams and the hierarchical businesses in which they operate as “growing pains” in the evolution of new ways of structuring work, Narelle predicts that one day companies will continually move along a spectrum of organisational structures. Meanwhile, members of flat teams need to develop new ways of working. “To truly leverage the potential, each member must be willing to show up with all of their insights, curiosities and hesitations,” says Narelle. “They must be willing to hold each member of the team accountable, as well as be willing to be held accountable themselves.” Business leaders, she adds, can help flat teams succeed by explaining why horizontal structures require new behaviour and modelling this themselves."

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Creating Collaboration in a Room Full of Opinions

If the smartest person in the room is the room, it’s important to give the introverts and extroverts an equal voice.

The average person spends about one-third of the week in meetings. It will come as little surprise that in a typical group of eight, three people do 70% of the talking.

When meetings are full of a mix of loud extroverts and shy introverts, communication is uneven, and often only the opinions of the loud people get heard.

We always say the smartest person in the room is the room because the collective insights of the group are always superior to a few loud voices. How can you foster a culture of collaboration among a group of people with different backgrounds, different comfort levels, and different seniority levels of your org? We’ve gathered four exercises we use in our meetings and sessions (internally at XPLANE and with our clients) to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard equally and the room is as smart as it can be.

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The Smartest Person in the Room

Most meetings are full of blah, blah, blah; they’re speech-heavy and one-directional. We use agendas to give meetings structure. Within this structure we all have our own agendas. We want to convey our personal beliefs and judgements about the best route towards a common direction. We count on our words and our PowerPoint presentations to move our agendas forward. We assume that they are enough to create shared understanding. But are they really?

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Design Thinking vs. Visual Thinking

At XPLANE we pride ourselves on bringing clarity to complexity. We usually do this for clients, but sometimes the need strikes closer to home. This happened recently at a social event when I heard the terms “design thinking” and “visual thinking” used interchangeably (not for the first time—and definitely not for the last). Now, most people who work in business strategy, innovation, or problem-solving can tell you that design thinking and visual thinking are not the same, but not everyone can easily articulate the difference. So in the interest of clarity and some serious cred at your next post-work cocktail hour, here’s a quick explanation of the difference between the two.

Simply put, design thinking is a method for problem solving.

IDEO popularized the method in the early 1990s by applying it to product design. Since that time, a variety of design thinking approaches have been applied to an ever-increasing range of challenges. Think of it as a constellation of iterative steps and best practices rather than a specific process. Most of these approaches share the same basic activities:

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