Increased Diversity Helps Resolve Complex Company Problems

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark LaScola. He is the Managing Principal of ON THE MARK (OTM), the global leader in collaborative…

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark LaScola. He is the Managing Principal of ON THE MARK (OTM), the global leader in collaborative organization design solutions. After 28 years in business, Mark has completed design projects for companies like Nestle, American Express, FitBit, and more. OTM’s depth and breadth of expertise is hard to beat. Its team has completed over 400 successful redesigns around the globe, in over 35 different countries for every type of business function, corporate function and enterprise across most industries. OTM owns one of the industry’s most comprehensive, integrated and holistic org design solutions.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I stumbled into organization design work and then followed what I loved doing. I had my first organization redesign experience in 1987. It was then I knew I wanted to do this work. Leveraging my facilitation and group process skills received during the completion of my MS in Marriage and Family Therapy (San Jose State U, 1985) and my work in community and economic development, I started ON THE MARK in July of 1990 and haven’t looked back since. In our 28 years in business, we have completed over 400 redesigns around the globe. With offices in London and Phoenix, Arizona, OTM is one of the top boutique providers of this solution.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

A funny one, since laughing is one of my favorite things to do: I was introducing myself and my company, ON THE MARK, at an American Express Sales Conference in the mid-nineties. In the middle of my introduction, a voice shouted out, it’s a good thing “my name wasn’t John!” That cracked me up. Of course, not to be out done, I replied, “just imagine what my tag line and brand logo could be…

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Three things: 1) Our unparalleled depth and breadth of experience modernizing operating models — from strategy through implementation, 2) our truly collaborative approach based on the principle that the answers are within a company, and 3) our comprehensive and integrated step-by-step methodology.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

We recently launched OTM’s Organization Design App that contains all our step-by-step methodology and know-how. There is nothing on the market like it. We are excited for our customers too, since now they will have the solution at their fingertips via their tablets and hand-held devices.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Stop the artificial engagement activities in your business and truly engage your staff in solving real business problems and issues.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Too many to name but here is one of them: Brenda Henderson. My line leader at one job I had. She was generous with her time for me and helped me develop into a better colleague and person. Thank you, Brenda!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Two ways: Since I started saving for retirement (30 years old), I only invest in socially responsible funds and stocks. This was way before it was popular — a real badge of honor for me. The second way is how the design work we do results in people blossoming right in front of our eyes. I can think of the hundreds of professionals who went back to school, got promoted, and found a job they loved because of the work we’ve one with them and the businesses they were part of. It’s very inspiring.

Can you share the top five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line? 

This is directly related to our work. Having a diversity of perspective and thought is core to solving complex problems. In our work, we modernize operating models and transform work. To solve these complex and complicated issues, we make sure the room is filled with representation of the entire work system including customers and vendors. Having that 360-degree view of a big hairy problem makes it easier to solve. Remember, the more diverse the room is, the more robust the solution. Tapping into this “collective genius” can be difficult for leaders to get their head around, but once they see it in action, they are changed leaders.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

Freedom comes through discipline. I am not sure who said it, but it is true. It applies to money, social and political issues. I have tried to live this way. I’ve preached it to my daughters, since they were youngsters.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Having a big name has little to do with an interesting life, emotional intelligence or wisdom. Give me someone with depth, good conversation skills and authenticity, a big California Cab Sav and a good meal, then I am a fulfilled.

Jilea Hemmings CEO & Co-Founder of Best Tyme. She is running a series on how diversity can increase a company’s bottom line

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