December 15, 2016 / Articles We Like / Leadership / Strategy

On “What Great Managers Do Daily”

We’ve all read the numerous articles highlighting the must-have qualities of an effective manager. Beyond the personal traits – what is it exactly that makes a manager great on a day-to-day basis?

Inspired by a Gallup study that found that about 70% of people in management roles are not well equipped for the job, Ryan Fuller and Nina Shikaloff’s recent Harvard Business Review article “What Great Managers Do Daily,” highlights employee engagement results from two Fortune 500 companies. Their conclusion is that most companies understand the importance of having highly effective managers, but few understand how to make them more effective. This article provides five key findings about what makes great managers different than the rest.

What do you think about their results and recommendations?

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December 2, 2016 / Strategy / Wise Talk

WiseTalk Summary on Defining Your Edge of Disruption

On November 28, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted Julie Williamson, Chief Growth Enabler for Karrikins Group. Julie is a leading voice in how organizations create sustainable growth by linking communication, design, strategy, sales, marketing, and service. Julie and Sue discussed her newest book, co-authored with Peter Sheahan, Matter: Move Beyond the Competition, Create More Value, and Become the Obvious Choice.

Favorite Quote:

“Change is not an event it simply is how we are.”

Insights:

Successful leaders need the courage to challenge tradition, the optimism to envision opportunity amid change and the curiosity to explore new territory. These leaders’ cutting-edge knowledge and flexibility at “the edge of disruption” give them an “elevated perspective” on the market. Their deep connections result in “elevated relationships” and their value-based work create an “elevated impact.”

Julie’s interviews with worldwide leaders show they share similar strategies for building businesses that “matter” to their industries, employees, customers and communities. They consider their companies’ distinctive capabilities and reputations, and they work with their clients to learn what issues are most important to them and what problems they need to solve. Established companies are afraid of disruption. The process of discovering your edge of disruption goes beyond looking internally. When you are standing on the edge of disruption you are escaping the “gravity” to who you have always been and you are starting to look out towards what you can be. Julie believes that there is a thrill that come along with standing at the edge and asking “What else could we be doing?”

The “edge of disruption,” which leads to an elevated perspective, marks the collision of new and old technologies and strategies. People who believe passionately about what they do are able to create a spark and light a fire for an entire industry. These leaders are inspired to help companies grow by creating more value and not just by taking costs out of the business.

Elevated Perspectives – It takes courage, optimism, and curiosity to have an elevated perspective. You need to know what is going on outside of your own “organization container.” As a leader you need to model the way. If others don’t see you looking around the corner, asking questions, being curious and being optimistic they are going to model your behavior. You need to figure out how to make time for your people to think, read, listen, and participate in things that take them out of their day-to-day.

Elevated Relationships – In today’s interconnected world there is no major problem that matters that you can solve on your own. When you start to solve problems that require interconnectedness then you are really starting to tackle the big issues for your industry. You need to rethink your current relationships and leverage them to solve the biggest problems that are out there.

Elevated Impact – An elevated impact aligns with an elevated perspective and elevated relationships. The leaders who’ve built companies that matter share certain personal attitudes. This includes a belief that they can negotiate win-win outcomes to benefit their companies, employees, clients, industries and communities. They all share an “authentic commitment to doing well by doing good” and taking a stand for the best interests of their customers and community.

What we found most interesting:

The desire to control and anticipate and dictate the future is something that scientific management has always emphasized (predictability, patterning, etc.). In today’s world, things happen too quickly for this to be too relevant or useful. Things are also not as linear as they once were. Julie says, “We are seeing the need for people to be comfortable with ambiguity. You need to have the confidence to know that you have the courage, skills, knowledge and expertise to step forward even when you don’t know exactly what you are stepping into.”

To learn more about Julie Williamson, listen to her WiseTalk recording.

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November 1, 2016 / Strategy / Wise Talk

WiseTalk Summary on How to Win in the Age of Disruption

On October 20, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted Terence Mauri, a highly regarded leader speaker, author, and Entrepreneur Mentor In Residence (EMiR) at London Business School. He is an Inc. Magazine columnist, and advisor to executives and entrepreneurs around the world. Terence discussed his new book, The Leader’s Mindset: How to Win in the Age of Disruption, and spoke with Sue about how to inspire new leadership thinking to help you disrupt your industry, your organization and, ultimately, yourself.

Favorite Quote:

“If we are lucky, we get about 960 months (80 years) on this planet. Use that number as an energizer. We often accommodate what we should not accommodate for far too long.”

Insights:

Disruption is a word that can easily lose its meaning. Disruption means thinking and doing what others are not doing. Every disruption is innovative by virtue of it being a disruption, but not every innovation is a disruption. An innovation is an incremental improvement, where a disruption is when you do something big and bold that is 10x different or 10x faster. Many companies are still doing things the old way. According to Mauri, “It is time to upgrade, let go, and refresh.”

Thinking Big Mindset – Most of the time we think too small and think in incremental change. Thinking big is about imagination. Thinking big is also about acting small (disciplined) to execute on the details. The big problems that exist in the world are not going to be solved with incremental thinking.

Acting Bold Mindset  – To get ahead you need to have courage and resilience. You need Sisu – a Finnish word that means resilience, courage, and fierce tenacity. It is a mental toughness that happens in the face of adversity. Acting bold is also about having a voice and having the confidence to speak up. We can teach that by modeling that behavior. You need to give others permission and a signal that they have a duty of care and responsibility to speak up when they have an opinion, idea or contribution to make. That is how we grow and develop as a society. People are more courageous when they have a clear purpose and passion in life.

Learning Fast Mindset – The speed of change is breathtaking in the age of disruption. Unless you are constantly learning you are going to become the status quo very quickly. The learn fast mindset is about becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Reading, connecting, networking, putting yourself in new situations, and asking yourself – When was the last time I learned something new? You need to be passionate about your business and industry and the trends that are both exciting and scaring you. Learn fast is a survival skill in the age of disruption.

On Moonshot Thinking  – Moonshot thinking is about reimagining the future and trying to think 10X bigger rather than 10% bigger. The idea is to disrupt your thinking and take yourself out of the status quo. You need to shift your perspective so you can have the breakthrough ideas. Moonshot thinking demands you to rethink assumptions about what is possible. If you don’t have a strategy for changing the status quo at a personal or professional level you end up becoming it.

The 3 Box Tool for Disruption

  • Box 1 – Is about optimizing the present. Putting your best foot forward and doing the basics brilliantly. That’s what we are good at and where we spend most of our time.
  • Box 2 – Is about selectively letting go of the past. Let go of things that are holding you back. We need to be more courageous in doing this.
  • Box 3 – Is about creating the future. You need to have a plan and vision for your future. This is very difficult because we live in a time of constant noise and distraction. Too much information can lead to a poverty of attention. We have an attention crisis. Most managers and leaders struggle to focus on what matters every day.

What we found most interesting:

“Most successful people are self-confessed failure pioneers.” They are adept at failing faster and using failure as a learning tool. Failure is not the opposite of success; it is the stepping stone to success. Failure is a fundamental part of innovation and creativity. We need to look at failure as a way to get a step closer to success.

To learn more about Terence Mauri and his thoughts on disruption, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

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October 1, 2016 / Strategy / Wise Talk

WiseTalk Summary on Embracing Disruption for a Competitive Advantage

On September  22, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted Cat Lee, Head of Partner Marketing at Pinterest. Known as one of the most innovative shopping platforms in the world, Pinterest has revolutionized how people discover products and content, and how customers engage with businesses. Cat gave WiseTalk an insider’s view on how Pinterest has become an extremely disruptive social media powerhouse while building a marketplace of 100 million users.

Favorite Quote:

“Authenticity is about not holding back your point of view and saying what needs to be said in a skillful way with warmth and respect.” 

Insights:

On How Pinterest is a Disruptor in Advertising
At its core, “Pinterest is about exploration and discovery. The big opportunity for businesses on Pinterest is that there is no trade-off between the experience it provides to users and businesses.” Pinterest customers are open-minded to the ideas that come from businesses because they are native to the Pinterest experience. 75 percent of the ideas on Pinterest are from businesses because they are useful, actionable and relevant to users.

What’s unique about the Pinterest platform audience is the intent that can be modeled out based on user actions. The way that people search on Pinterest is based on exploration.  If you look at the consumer journey through a partner’s point of view (business), it closely resembles the marketing funnel. The consumer starts with casual browsing, then moves on to engagement (pinning), and then finally the consumer moves to the mindset of wanting to take action.

The Importance of Talent and Processes to Disruption
Cat believes it is important to focus on organizational health in addition to organizational smarts. Through both, you get efficiency and speed in how the teams can work together and ultimately disrupt the market.  A key component is communication. If all employees have the same information it empowers everyone to do their best and be in alignment of what’s most important to the company. Macro level processes helps teams go faster.

Cat also believes, “you are doing your best work when you are leveraging your strengths and making sure that they are well balanced.  You don’t need to worry about weaknesses as much as helping people to do their best work.”

What We Found Most Interesting:

  • The Four Values of Pinterest Knit: The best products come from “knitting,” where everyone works together— from engineering and design to marketing and community. Innovation happens when disciplines “knit” together.
  • Put Pinners First: If something doesn’t work for Pinners, it doesn’t work for Pinterest.
  • Go: The best way to find out if something works is to try it and learn as you go.
  • Be Authentic: Being honest and open (and sometimes saying the hard thing) is a core value.

To learn more about Cat Lee and her thoughts on disruption, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

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September 29, 2016 / Articles We Like / Strategy

On Inspire Change: A Step-by-Step Guide to Disrupting an Industry

Disruption involves taking big risks to solve big problems that have never been solved before. If you are looking to know when and how to disrupt a market, take a look at Kevin Rands recent Business article Inspire Change: A Step-by-Step Guide to Disrupting an Industry.

Kevin thinks you need to start by listening to consumers and checking the pulse of your industry. Are there pain points and frequent complaints in social media?  Does the industry lack creativity and innovation? Is there a lack of customer loyalty among the market leaders?  Is it a fragmented market? If there are market issues, you just might be in the right position to change, redefine, or take the lead.

What do think about Kevin’s five recommendations?

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August 30, 2016 / Strategy / Wise Talk

WiseTalk Summary on the Disruption Dilemma

On August 18, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted economist, Joshua Gans, the Jeffrey Skoll Chair in Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and author of The Disruption Dilemma. Gans discussed his new research on innovation theory and the range of actions that leaders can take to deal with disruption.

Favorite Quote:

The disruption dilemma is “do we go for gold now or do we settle for silver every year?”

Insights:

  • Why do companies that are at the top of their game seem to get into trouble with disruptive innovations? Successful firms have trouble deciding what path to pursue because at first, their customers reject innovation, but eventually they begin to embrace it and the new entrant becomes a real business threat. That creates a real dilemma for an established firm.
  • Sometimes something new comes along that in addition to being innovative, is put together in a new and completely different way. Blackberry is an excellent example of this supply side disruption. They just didn’t have the right organization to be able to do what Apple and Samsung were doing. Often, the incumbents are handicapped by the operation and structure that made them successful.
  • You need to pay attention to the warning signs: A) a new product comes along and your organization dismisses it without evaluation, and/or B) situations where different parts of an organization have no idea what other parts of the organization are doing.

Tips for managing supply-side innovation:

  1. Your customers don’t know everything: You need to be actively monitoring new technologies and keep track of what’s going to be the next thing. You need to be strategic and anticipate the needs of the future.
  2. Acquire new disruptive entrants: Most firms have dealt with innovation by buying the firms that bring the new innovation to market. You must not only acquire them, but you also need to absorb them and their way of thinking and doing. Developing procedures is one way to make these acquisitions successful.
  3. Have very focused teams on rapid innovation and improvement: There is a cost to this, as you might have a very short time at the top of the industry, but there is the potential to make a lot of money in the short-term.
  4. Choose the life of the firm: By sacrificing rapid innovation you can lag a bit behind. This does come with a cost as you won’t have as many sales and you won’t be the leader in your industry. But, doing so will make your organization more flexible by breaking up silos and making sure that people rotate across teams. This doesn’t guarantee that a company will survive the next big disruption, but it does increase the odds quite a bit.

What we found most interesting:

Do you want to be gold or silver? Historically, when you choose to be gold you are choosing to be there for a short period of time. When thinking about disruptive threats, it is worthwhile to bring different parts of your organization together to identify and decide how you will deal with them.

To learn about Joshua’s theory and research on disruptive change, and more interesting insights about companies that have fallen to disruptive innovation, listen to the recording here.

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August 1, 2016 / Strategy / Wise Talk

WiseTalk Summary on Transformation for the Digital Age

On July 20, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted David Rogers, professor at Columbia Business School and the author of the recent book The Digital Transformation Playbook. David is a globally-recognized leader on digital business strategy. David talked with Sue about why traditional businesses need to rethink, adapt, and learn from todays’ digital disruptors and innovators.

Favorite Quote:
“The reason that digital technologies matter so much to businesses is because it matters to customers. Through technology, customers can discover, learn, interact, and influence each other. It’s changing the relationship businesses have with their customers.”

Insights:
Digital transformation is a question — How does a business that was started before the digital era need to adapt in order to grow, thrive, and reach its next stage of profitable growth?
According to Rogers, digital transformation really isn’t about technology, it’s about changing strategic thinking and organizations’ need to upgrade their thinking across these five domains of strategy:

  1. Customers – Businesses need to shift from thinking about their customers as targets (who they market to) to thinking about them as networks. We need to look at customers as active and dynamic participants and partners. Technology is changing the customer relationship with businesses and with each other. There is now a much more reciprocal dynamic relationship with customers and it is important to understand the ways that they (customers) are interacting with each other and making decisions. Businesses now have better insight into the customer’s very rapidly changing path to purchase.
  2. Competition – We are shifting from a world where traditional competition was very much a zero-sum game. We are now not only dealing with rivals within our industry, but also with competitors from outside our industry (for example, Uber and the auto industry). We are now in an environment where companies are dealing with “co-opetition”. The same company may be your fiercest rival and a critical business partner.
  3. Data – Traditionally, data was expensive to obtain and was primarily used in an organizational silo fashion to manage processes and forecasting. Basically, businesses used data to operate more efficiently and effectively. Now, data is everywhere. There is an incredible sea change in unstructured data which is commonly called “Big Data”. We are now seeing businesses that can bring this data together in an integrated fashion. Instead of just improving operating efficiency data can be used to create new value and to innovate and drive the business forward.
  4. Innovation – There is a big shift from the traditional model of innovation that is based on senior organizational leaders making tough decision and placing big bets. We are shifting to a model that is based upon a process David Rogers calls “rapid experimentation.” The role of leadership is very different in this model. Instead of trying to figure out the answer, leaders set the goal and the question of innovation and enable their organization to figure out how they can effectively learn as quickly and rapidly as possible. Digital technologies now enable continuous testing and experimentation so that business leaders don’t sink everything into one big bet that may or may not work.
  5. Value – The last domain of digital transformation is the value a business delivers to its customers. Industry definitions and borders are becoming much more fluid and evolving. As the environment changes, businesses need to shift from taking a static view of who they are. Every business should look at every change and new technology and ask itself, “How can this create a new opportunity for me to deliver value to my customers that I wasn’t able to deliver yesterday?” It is important to be thinking about how to be as relevant to your customer today and going forward as you’ve been in the past.

On Data Sharing:
Certain industries are more comfortable with sharing data and there are certainly key differences among age groups.

  • Brand Trust – Even when an individual is hesitant to share data, if there is a particular brand where they thought they had a trusted relationship with for more than six months they were more likely to share their data.
  • Creating Value – People are really influenced by the perception that there is value being exchanged. When they feel that by giving the data to your company they can see that it allows you to serve them better, they are much more open to the idea of sharing data.

On Learning to Experiment:
Experimentation is really just an iterative process of what does and doesn’t work. Thinking about innovation as a series of experiments is about organizing your innovation process around learning.
There are a couple of different types of experiments and as a manager it is important to understand the distinctions.

  • Convergent Experiments – You start with a specific question and you are converging on an answer (example: an A/B test). In the ideal situation, these experiments can actually be designed using a scientific method.
  • Divergent Experiments – There is not a single specific question like an A/B test. You are posing an unknown set of questions that require a different process design. This is where you might be putting a prototype in the hands of customers or discovering through an iterative process what may be most meaningful for the business. The process may actually generate new questions for each stage. The ultimate goal is to test as many assumptions as possible behind a general idea of an innovation.

What We Found Most Interesting:
Businesses must understand the importance of strategies to build platforms, not just products. In the digital era, the competition shift is being driven by the growth of platform business models – a business that creates value by facilitating direct interactions between different types of customers. So, instead of the business creating the value – the business is creating value by bringing together different parties that are each contributing and exchanging different kinds of value themselves.

To learn more about David Rogers and his thoughts on digital disruption, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

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July 29, 2016 / Articles We Like / Strategy

On “Embracing Change Means Disrupting Your Day”

Can positive change be achieved without disruption? Is your mindset about accepting change and seeing it as a wonderful opportunity or does the “newness” of change seem like a disruption to the comfortable and familiar that you’ve created at home and at work?

In this recent HBR article Embracing Change Means Disrupting Your Day, authors Kate Sweetman and Shane Cragun explore the idea of “growth mindset” and why it is needed to achieve success in today’s environment.

Are you embracing change in this tumultuous and global environment?

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June 30, 2016 / Articles We Like / Strategy

On “3 Stages of Successful Change Management”

Whether you are in a disruptive market environment or not, real change doesn’t happen without the support and buy-in from those you lead. As a leader you need to take the time to share your vision and prepare your culture for change.

In his most recent Forbes article, Mark Murphy, outlines his 3 Stages of Successful Change Management. It’s a quick read with some valuable and practical insights for getting the support you need to go through with a change effort.

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May 31, 2016 / Articles We Like / Strategy

On “3 Stages of Successful Change Management”

Whether you are in a disruptive market environment or not, real change doesn’t happen without the support and buy-in from those you lead. As a leader you need to take the time to share your vision and prepare your culture for change.

In his most recent Forbes article, Mark Murphy, outlines his 3 Stages of Successful Change Management. It’s a quick read with some valuable and practical insights for getting the support you need to go through with a change effort.

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