Another candidate for EBFAS?

“EBFAS” was Boyd’s German acronym from the elements of his organizational climate. I’m very glad to learn that we have visitors who aren’t familiar with it. Certain to Win has a chapter on a simplified version, “EFAS,” in Certain to Win, and there’s a description of the complete version in the presentation Boyd’s Big Ideas, which you can download from the Articles page, beginning on chart 66. The simplification, incidentally, was Boyd’s suggestion. Certain to Win is available from Amazon and other online book sellers.

Briefly, the idea is that successful organizations fire up the creativity and initiative of all their members and then harmonize this power to accomplish the purposes of the organization.  In a competitive environment, successful organizations do this better than their competitors.

So my first recommendation to leaders in a turnaround is to get the culture healthy, get the engine firing again.  If you know what you’re doing, it doesn’t have to take long. Dean Lenane tells how he did it in The Turnaround, also available from our Articles page.

Apply this to Mattel. Today’s Wall St. Journal features a front-page analysis of their turnaround effort, “Floundering Mattel Tries to Make Things Fun Again,” (paywall) and as is the case with so many of these stories, there’s lots on finance and new products and a little on organizational climate. The bridge is sexier than the engine room, I guess.

This is a ship that’s about to slip under the waves — Mattel lost a third of its market value in the past year, amid a booming market for stocks. It’s hard to know what’s going on from just one article, and there are signs of life:

In October, a vice president dreaming up new packages for the 2016 line of Hot Wheels toys planned to present his ideas to his new boss at the end of the week. But first, he had to review the changes with product, marketing and design teams. Mr. Down, the new head of Hot Wheels, pulled managers from all the needed levels into one meeting and got the decision made. “We’re in a different era,” Mr. Down says. “There is a cultural detuning we need in certain parts of the company.”

This has a little of the flavor of Auftragstaktik. A very little, because in mission-oriented culture, meetings do not make decisions. But it might be a start.

On the other hand, to illustrate the depth of Mattel’s new cultural emphasis, the article leads with “edicts” from on high about how to conduct meetings.  We up here on Mt. Olympus see all and know all.  I’m not sure this will really go along way towards stoking up creativity and initiative, except, perhaps, on how not to get caught violating the new “three meetings” rule.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 thoughts on “Another candidate for EBFAS?

  1. Increasingly, I get the impression that perhaps to an extent it’s inevitable that organizations tend to arrange themselves in a manner that minimizes the incentives for someone to step out of the box.

    It is true that some things need to be done from top down, including most of all the tone. If for example, leadership is not ethical, it’s going to be obvious and it will trickle down the company. But other things need to be bottom up. That and it depends on the quality of the leadership too.

    Hmm … it’s a complicated question I think.

    – Chris

    • Chris,

      It sure is. Boyd saw several roles for commanders, including:

      • Determining what is to be accomplished, the “commander’s intent” (Patterns 76)
      • Exercising personal, moral leadership, as suggested on Patterns 118
      • Nurturing the EBFAS climate itself

      We might include ethics and tone under both the second and third bullets. They are absolutely fundamental because it’s hard to establish mutual trust with people you can’t trust.


    • Dear Nanna,

      Sure — it’s a German abbreviation Boyd used to summarize his organizational climate: Einheit, Behendigkeit, Fingerspitzengefühl, Auftragstaktik, Schwerpunkt.


  2. And the point is, that the English language morfs, evolves, and changes, much faster than
    any other on earth. Sound familiar ?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.