May 7, 2016 / Strategy / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Leading Change – Are you a decider?

On April 21, 2016, Sue hosted Nick Tasler, CEO of Decision Pulse, a global management-consulting firm, and an internationally acclaimed author of three books including his latest #1 best-seller, Domino: The Simplest Way to Inspire Change. Nick revealed his surprisingly simple framework to align teams around change and achieve new goals quicker than ever before.

Favorite Quote:

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”


  • When managers try to make a change the natural approach is to talk about the new things they are going to do but they don’t get rid of the 10 old priorities.  Team members are all on board and understand why the change is happening but they just went from 10 priorities to 20 priorities.  This is “change by addition”.  With “change by addition” people become unsure about what they should prioritize and everybody gets spread thin.
  • There is confusion between collaboration and consensus. Collaboration is a good thing but collaboration should not be used as an excuse for abdication. In the very well intentioned goal of being a collaborative team nobody can move forward until every single person has signed off.  You need to change your mindset.  What exactly is the point of a decision? What exactly does collaboration mean and what does it not mean?
  • An “Aha! moment” for many leaders is “I really do have the authority to make the decision!” Most leaders try to be inclusive and collaborative because that is what we say good leaders should do. It is up to the leader to make the decision when there is no natural alignment among team members. Under the guise of not being a micromanager, leaders don’t make a decision and that is just as problematic as being too authoritarian.
  • ADAPT is a useful “change by decision” framework. Anticipate – You have to notice the change before you can do anything about it. Decide – The latin root of decide is “to kill” or “to cut”. To decide is to know what to kill.  Align – The easy way to operationalize the decision is to come up with a 90-day sprint and a 90-day waitlist and ask your teams to do the same thing. What are the three things you are going to sprint on and three things you are going to hold off doing for 90 days?  Alignment is really about aligning waitlists. Permit – It is important for people to know that they will not be punished for not working on the things on the waitlist. Test – Whatever the decision, it is only a hypothesis.  The whole point of test is to let people know that when a new direction is announced,  it is possible that it might not work.  Testing is a reminder that this is a hypothesis until the reality proves differently.
  • We always hear about old lumbering organizations who are too short-sighted and get disrupted. Within a disrupter or a startup, the goal is often to be visionary. Disrupters risk getting too far ahead of the industry and too far ahead of what customers want. This farsightedness is hyperopia. It is the opposite of myopia.

Try it:

Host a session or a day-long strategic planning workshop called a “Decision Day”. The whole point of the day isn’t to come up with a plan or a list of priorities. The point is to arrive at a decision of what the team is going to do and what they are not going to do. The name Decision Day changes the mindset of participants to prime them for the purpose of the day.

What we found most interesting:

Leaders often go right into communication mode when they make a major decision.  The equivalent analogy to driving is turning on the hazards and getting everyone’s attention but nobody in the organization knows what’s going on.

A blinker is different. It signals a change and a specific direction. The thing that gets everyone’s attention is taking something away and not adding something new. The questions is – what do you take away? It has to be something that is important and will get people’s attention.

To learn more about Nick’s research, listen to the WiseTalk recording.


May 7th, 2016|Categories: Strategy, Wisetalk|
April 28, 2016 / Strategy

On “Go Disrupt Yourself”

There has never been a more interesting, exciting time to work in technology-fueled companies. Technology is advancing at an exponential pace, and it’s changing the way the world does business. But it’s extremely hard for companies to disrupt their own market while moving full speed ahead.

Daniel Gross, author of the recent Strategy + Business article, Go Disrupt Yourself, reminds us that with every successful disruption story, there are always more that failed.

April 28th, 2016|Categories: Strategy|
March 30, 2016 / Strategy

On “Does Your Business Model Look to the Future or Just Defend the Present?”

Today’s best technology-driven companies (think Netflix or Uber) are using transitional business platforms to learn and react quickly, even if it can potentially threaten the company’s traditional core.

In the Harvard Business Review article, Does Your Business Model Look to the Future or Just Defend the Present?, Robert C. Wolcott provides four characteristics distinguishing transitional business platforms and how they allow a company  to ‘get in the game’ for driving change in the future.

March 30th, 2016|Categories: Strategy|
February 2, 2016 / Articles We Like / Leadership / Strategy

On "The Wild West of Measuring Corporate Sustainability"

Many companies have made sustainability measures part of their corporate goals. The impetus to do so might be driven by cost reduction measures, the need to ensure a future supply of materials, or a desire to make a positive impact on the communities they serve. Reporting on progress of sustainable development is a fairly recent business trend, and as such, varying degrees of standards exist, with varying degrees of transparency. At the same time, investors are becoming more savvy about the information they want from their portfolio companies.

In this Stanford Social Innovation Review article, The Wild West of Measuring Corporate Sustainability, author Eric Nitzberg builds a case for why executives ought to stay ahead of sustainability reporting trends to meet the expectations of modern investors. He also cites key sustainability reporting resources leaders can leverage to inform their sustainability strategies moving forward.

January 28, 2016 / Articles We Like / Strategy

On “Shake It Up: How to Identify Industries That are Ready for Disruption”

Innovation is a top priority for all companies, with the unicorn of innovation being “disruption”. Possibly the easiest way to innovate is to disrupt an existing industry (think Uber or Airbnb).

Many executives we work with are tasked with innovation as part of their jobs, and need a strong strategic thinking toolkit to do so. We share this article because it provides a framework for thinking about industry trends, to spur new ideas on where disruption might be possible.

In the article by Anna Johansson, Shake It Up: How to Identify Industries That are Ready for Disruption learn about the telltale signs of markets that are ready for disruption, and read some examples of markets the author believes are poised for disruption. Add this to your strategic thinking toolkit!

What are your favorite tools for spotting industry trends?


January 28th, 2016|Categories: Articles We Like, Strategy|Tags: , , |
July 16, 2015 / Strategy / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

On June 25, 2015, Sue hosted Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Leadership and Learning, the Chair of the Organizational Behavior department, and the founding director of “The Leadership Transition” executive education program at INSEAD. Herminia is the author of the new book, Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader and was named a Thinkers50 most influential business guru. Herminia helped us understand the common traps that get in the way of stepping up to bigger leadership positions. She explained how change really works when we are attempting to grow professionally, and how applying the “outsight” principle reshapes our image of our selves, our jobs and our potential.

Favorite Quote:
“Until you can feel it in your bones, it’s very hard to have thinking drive your behavior.”


  • The “outsight” principle means learning by going outside the norm. It’s an external perspective that you get from doing new things and experimenting, by interacting with new people, going outside your past experience, outside your usual network of contacts and getting a more external perspective to open your eyes to a different reality.
  • Traditional leadership development methods tend to emphasize learning through introspection, which is the opposite of the outsight principle. Sue inquired about this juxtaposition. While there is a place for introspection in developing leaders, Herminia’s research showed that behavior that drives attitudes and thought processes as opposed to other way around, particularly when the end state is unclear. When transitioning from A to B, and B as the end state is known, it’s easier to plan the steps to get to B. But when the end state is unknown or murky, all the thinking in the world is theory and likely to not match reality. When transitioning to a leadership role for the first time, Herminia explains the only way to aspire to that goal in a way that’s motivating, is to get closer to it through experimentation. Only then will you have fresh material for reflection afterwards.
  • To gain outsight, Herminia suggested three areas for aspiring leaders to create some experiments: redefining your job, extending your network away from the usual suspects, and being more playful with yourself. Getting started with experiments in these three areas, especially with job activities and network building, will help you gain positive momentum. The people you meet along the way make a huge difference because they become kindred spirits or people who can guide you or you can bounce ideas off of because they are going through something similar. The more time spent thinking about it and conceptualizing this concept, the slower the learnings will come. But those who take action even if they aren’t sure where they are going, or because it feels unnatural, will learn more quickly.

What we found most interesting:
As people try to step up to leadership, they sometimes experience the authenticity trap. Things that don’t feel comfortable for people tend to feel inauthentic. But Herminia explained authenticity can be a defense against learning and a defense against getting out of your comfort zone. Authenticity can be defined in a number of ways, but when people hide behind it they tend to mean, “being as I’ve always been.” Which is not great, because you can be authentic and change a lot. She says, “The way you actually become really authentic is by changing and adapting and by doing so, mean you remain true to yourself in an evolving way…we all want to be ourselves at work but we want to be ourselves in a way that takes into account growth and evolution.”

To learn more about Herminia’s experience, listen to the Wise Talk recording.

May 29, 2015 / Articles We Like / Strategy

On “Are You Solving the Right Business Problem? Here Are 5 Ways to Get to Your Question Zero”

Are you solving the right problem for your customers? The most strategic leaders we know understand the importance of surfacing their customers’ core issues, and offering the right solutions to address them. That’s why we share this article on a technique practiced by IDEO:  question zero.

Leaders can use the question zero technique to understand what the problem is, why it is the problem, and how you can mobilize resources to solve it. Check out the Fast Company article, written by Ana Andjelic, SVP, Global Strategy Director at Havas LuxHub, Are You Solving the Right Business Problem? Here are 5 Ways to Get to Your Question Zero, for tips on using question zero to get closer to the essence of the core challenge your customers face.

What other strategic thinking techniques do you use to get to your customers’ core issues?

May 2, 2013 / Book Reviews / Strategy

Article Review: Strategic Thinking – Exercises and Tools for Creative Thinking and Strategy

BZ-blogStrategic Thinking – Exercises and Tools for Creative Thinking and Strategy
By Mike Brown, The Brainzooming Group

Strategic thinking is not a one-time event.  It is an ongoing process, involving critical thinking skills, creativity and an overall perspective all organizations must cultivate and apply daily to successfully innovate and compete in business.  Defining and implementing a successful organizational strategy relies on a solid strategic thinking approach, and the online resource, Strategic Thinking – Exercises and Tools for Creative Thinking and Strategy, outlines the characteristics of strategic thinking and contains tips, tools and tactics to help readers think strategically and creatively on an ongoing basis.

The content of Strategic Thinking – Exercises and Tools for Creative Thinking and Strategy includes:

The 4 Characteristics of Solid Strategic Thinking

  • Strategic Thinkers Seek Perspectives from Multiple Sources
  • Strategic Thinking Goes Beyond Today’s Reality
  • Strategic Thinkers Question Both the Familiar and the New
  • Strategic Thinkers Display Both Patience and Impatience

Applying Strategic Thinking Daily

  • Using Rich Strategic Questions
  • Anticipating Future Issues
  • Finding Ideas with Intriguing Connections
  • Generating Many Ideas Quickly
  • Innovating Amid Constraints
  • New Thinking with Old Ideas
  • Addressing Unknowns
  • Focusing on Efficiency and Results
  • Envisioning Possibilities
  • Telling a Strategic Story
  • Working Across and Up an Organization
  • Managing Challenging People

The Brainzooming Group is a catalyst for business people needing to successfully identify and implement strategic, innovative ideas.  Mike Brown is the author of the extensive Brainzooming daily blog, including the Strategic Thinking article and the free eBook, Taking the NO Out of Innovation.


April 23, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills / Strategy

Ask Mariposa: Top 4 Executive Coaching Focus Areas


Daniel asked: Can you share the most frequent areas that you help clients improve on with coaching?

Regan Bach, Executive Leadership Coach, responds:

Great question Daniel and you are not alone in wondering what actually occurs during a coaching engagement.  There is a great deal of customizing that occurs with each client’s needs, but here are the Top 4 most frequent areas of coaching focus:

1) Vision/Strategy/Execution

Whether it be for CEOs or new managers, setting a clear vision for yourself and your team is mission critical.  From there it’s all about articulating that vision to others, identifying an “actionable” strategy to execute on the vision, mitigating roadblocks, and tweaking the roadmap/trajectory given inputs over time.  A good coach helps leaders to a) get very clear on strengths and areas of opportunity to improve, b) articulate personal/team/company vision, and c) helps identify action steps to begin executing on a trajectory for success.

2) Going Slow to Go Fast

In today’s fast paced work environments, leaders jump from task to task, project to project, and initiative to initiative.  Rarely do they take time to slow down, unplug, assess the Big Picture, and reflect on what’s working, what’s not working, and what they want to do DIFFERENT moving forward.  Coaches act as a forcing function to help support leaders in unplugging, assessing themselves and their environments, and then identifying areas that need their attention.  What’s critical is helping today’s leaders not only identify where to show up, but also how to show up.

3) Influencing

This is an area where almost everyone can improve.  I have found that individuals, regardless of title, greatly underestimate (and thus under-utilize), their ability to influence others.  I spend a great deal of time working with clients to help identify effective and efficient ways to influence both vertically and horizontally throughout an organization.

4) Feedback, Communication and Relationship-Building

Organizations exist because humans create them.  Thus, many leaders continually struggle and are challenged by behavioral and/or human-centric issues.  At the core, business is all about communication and relationships.  Coaches help leaders create clear lines of communication, implement durable feedback loops into their work, and get clear on how and when they message things to others.

April 12, 2013 / Blog / Strategy

Strategic Narrative and Telling Stories


I am often asked if there is a difference between “narrative” and “story”  when it comes to strategy and organization.  While these words are used interchangable they aren’t the same. Story conveys insight.  Narrative creates a world.  Read more.

About the Author:

Dave Ancel, Ed.D., is co-founder at Emergent Solutions, Inc. (ESODL) and a Strategic Partner with Mariposa Leadership, Inc. For more articles by Dave, visit the ESODL Blog.

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