January 2, 2014 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Why Innovative HR Leaders Prototype

Prototyping is not just for product design. Prototyping can also be used for intangible services or experiences, including human resource initiatives. Redesigning your high potential development program? That can be prototyped. Got an idea for branding your talent recruiting experience? A prototype can be done for that as well.

Why prototype instead of using PowerPoint to present your ideas? Tim Brown of IDEO often refers to prototyping as “building to think.” By making the intangible tangible through 3D modeling, ideas are bridged with innovation by using the right brain to liven up the solution, creating space for fresh thinking. The 3D models then become a symbol that can be tested with your employees to gather feedback through interviews and observation. Prototyping also offers a quick and cheap way to “fail fast,” one of the key principles of design thinking. In “failing fast,” more feedback can be gathered upfront and used to refine your idea before investments are made in HR program pilots.

For an experience with prototyping your human resource or talent management ideas, join us in our NEW Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop or download our Executive Guide to Design Thinking for prototyping tips.

December 18, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Better Brainstorming for HR Innovation

As an HR leader, you need to come up with innovative ways to energize, develop and retain your workforce.  You need fresh ideas – many useful ideas – as well as an new method for cultivating those fresh ideas.

In a design thinking process, brainstorming plays a key role in cultivating a plethora of fresh ideas. But we aren’t talking about your average run-of-the-mill brainstorming session, with everyone in the room (hopefully) contributing a single idea out loud, one by one.  This is a frenetic, fast-paced process which sets the stage for creativity!

Here are our tips, based on our Breakthrough! Model:

  • Clarify the specific problem upfront. Set the problem for the group before you begin to guide the brainstorming process.  Examples: How might we redesign the entire end-to-end employee experience of performance reviews? How might we create buzz about our company to a certain demographic, so they know us and know good things about us? How do we ensure that non-comp recognition and rewards are tied to retention? How might we redesign our current leadership development program with Millennials in mind? With multi-generational audiences in mind?
  • Encourage imagination.  Ask your team to think broadly and creatively.  The sky is the limit for ideas!
  • Start alone. Give each person some time to write down a bunch of ideas on individual sticky notes by themselves and post for the group.
  • Break into small groups. With smaller groups generating ideas at the same time, groupthink can be avoided, one person can’t dominate the conversation, and idea generation potential multiplies.
  • Each small group member produces an idea…and another…with limited time.  In a small group format, have your team write ideas on sticky notes and share them aloud one by one without comments.  Challenge your team to produce more ideas after a period of time.

This brainstorming process will result in a broad, creative list of ideas, from which to cull further.

For additional tips on frenetic brainstorming and culling the list of ideas, download our Executive Guide to Design Thinking or join us in our NEW Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop.

December 12, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa | Becoming a T-shaped Leader

Danielle asks:   I was promoted about a year ago and am leading an HR team at a small but rapidly growing company.  My boss recently mentioned I need to broaden my perspective and skill set to be more effective, especially as we continue to grow.  I was surprised to hear this considering my role and background in HR.  What do I need to do?

Tawny Lees, COO of Mariposa, responds:

Great question!  Often times, depth of business expertise can lead to a promotion, but the skills required for leading at the next level change.  Effective HR leaders in rapidly growing companies possess a balance of both vertical and horizontal skills, referred to as being“T-shaped.”  The vertical piece refers to the depth of your specific functional business expertise (like Benefits/Comp/Recruiting, etc. for an HR Manager.)  The horizontal piece refers to your skills, experience or perspectives that help you contribute and collaborate across the company, outside of your particular area of expertise.  The combination of vertical and horizontal skills increases your ability to adapt and flex to change, and collaborate, which is key in environments which are constantly changing or require constant innovation.

T-SHAPEDAsk yourself:

  • What factors are impacting your business, thus driving change for HR?  Of those, which do you need to know more about?
  • Do you have prior experience that could lend an empathetic view, if not skills or abilities?  You might have knowledge or skills but may not have leveraged it in your role yet.
  • Can you participate in any committees or special projects to broaden horizontally?

T-shaped leadership is cultivated over time.  You might want to consider outside conferences, courses, travel or community projects while you build skills on the job.

Good luck, great question!


December 11, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / HR / Talent Management

2 Ways Empathy Can Help HR Drive Innovation

In most companies today, innovation is expected from all areas of an organization – including groups not traditionally known for driving innovation agendas, such as Human Resources. Success for HR and Talent Management leaders lies in opening up to new approaches for developing fresh ideas for difficult issues. Here are 2 ways that empathy – a key element of design thinking and one facet of our Breakthrough! model – can help HR & Talent Management leaders go from idea-to-innovation more quickly.

  • Empathy provides context for solutions. Too often, leaders of all types come up with an idea for a product, service or experience in isolation, then implement it. This approach fails to lead to innovation. Developing empathy through various methods of observation and interviewing puts HR leaders in their customer’s shoes, experiencing what they do and how they feel. Thus, HR leaders stand a better chance of developing solutions that work for the customer.
  • Empathy develops T-shaped HR leaders. HR leaders who develop an ability to empathize with their customers have both the vertical skills in human resources and are able to broaden their horizontal perspectives, leading to an ability to look at a problem from multiple dimensions.

For more information on empathy, download our Executive Guide to Design Thinking or join us at our NEW Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop.

October 31, 2013 / Articles We Like / HR / Talent Management

On: "7 Hottest Trends in HR Technology"

Because advances in HR technology have historically changed the way talent is managed, we suggest this article, by author Meghan Biro, CEO of TalentCulture Consulting Group, as she looks at technology trends to help HR make smart decisions.

In the article, 7 Hottest Trends in HR Technology, published in Forbes, Meghan predicts companies will become more selective about their technology investments, opting for those which are easy to implement, are user friendly and deliver targeted results. Read it now for more, including her trends in analytics, social media and mobile applications.

What trends are you seeing in HR technology? What are your predictions on how they will impact talent management processes?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

November 20, 2012 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: Understanding the Culture of Your New Org

Will asked:

How can I help a new employee understand the culture of our organization?

Barbara Baill, Senior Leadership Consultant responded:

The first step is to be able to verbally describe the culture of the organization. We all intuitively know the culture of the organizations in which we live, but it can be challenging to articulate that knowledge and articulate how the organization demonstrates its beliefs, values, underlying assumptions, attitudes and behaviors.

Here are some questions to think about:
• What stories demonstrate the culture? Can you describe situations where individuals have gotten themselves in trouble by unintentionally violating cultural norms?
• What have successful employees done that demonstrate the company values and attitudes?
• If your company has articulated a set of values, what specifics behaviors demonstrate what those values really mean in terms of winning behaviors/successful performance?
• Where is the decision making power in the organization?
• How risk adverse/risk taking is the culture?
• Does communication flow hierarchically (formally) or democratically (informally) across, up and down the organization?
• In what ways and for what reasons do people really get recognized and rewarded?

It’s a good idea to ask multiple people for their input on describing the culture of the organization. You can also give your new employee the task of asking these questions to a list of others that you believe would be honest and open about the culture and who are also highly regarded across the organization.

Over time, continue to mentor your new employee on the cultural realities of your organization. As he or she gains experience in your organization, their contextual understanding of the cultural nuances will grow. Your coaching will help accelerate the integration of the new hire.

Share your thoughts on this response in the comments section below, and ask us anything here: http://blog.mariposaleadership.com/ask-mariposa/

October 16, 2012 / Ask Mariposa / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: An Executive Resistant to Coaching

Lance asked:

My executive is resistant to the idea of coaching. What steps can I take to change this?

Tawny Lees, COO responded:

I like the way this was asked in terms of “steps” because there is no silver bullet approach to this challenge. Executive coaching only works with a willing and ready participant, and there could be a wide variety of reasons for the resistance. You’ll need to get clear on what the resistance is about. A fear of facing tough feedback? A perspective that coaching indicates weakness? A concern that it takes too much time/energy? Try to get clarity and then put yourself in this leaders’ shoes (empathize) so you can best address the issues. And you need to make sure that coaching is the right approach. Coaching works best under certain conditions – the executive’s performance and potential are highly valuable to the organization, the particular challenge or developmental need is a fit (executive wants to learn how to be more effective via behavioral change), there are key people in the organization ready to support this executive’s efforts to grow and change, and most importantly – the executive is willing.

Some specific ideas/steps might include: you help the executive get feedback from a trusted and credible source, you have a credible peer describe the benefits he/she obtained from coaching, a valued direct report starts coaching first so the executive gets more familiar with the process and its impact, you brainstorm with the executive about he or she can continue to grow as a leader (self-assessments, 360 feedback, high-level training, mentoring, reading, etc. and discuss whether/how coaching could fit in.) The bottom line is likely repeated, open and honest conversations that get to the heart of the resistance and help the executive to see the value and opportunity in taking stock of his/her current leadership effectiveness and seeking expert help to become even more effective.

Share your thoughts on this response in the comments section below, and ask us anything here: http://blog.mariposaleadership.com/ask-mariposa/

October 2, 2012 / Ask Mariposa / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: Renew Reputation and Shift Perceptions

Claire asked:

At my last review, I received negative peer reviews and since then I’ve been taking steps toward making a significant change in my behavior and working relationships. It’s been a really difficult process. Can you advise as to how can I renew my reputation and shift the perceptions of others in my organization?

Tawny Lees, COO responded:

The first thing to remember is patience! People formed a perception of you over time and won’t necessarily immediately notice or trust new behavior on your part. Remain consistent in your new behaviors and not get discouraged. There a few things you can pro-actively do to move the process along. Apologize and admit to your not-so-great behavior if appropriate. Have candid conversations with a few key people – describe the changes on which you are working and enroll their help to observe you and give you regular feedback for 6-12 months. Make sure to ask for the feedback, at least once a month. Establish one specific supporter with whom you can check-in and talk through any obstacles. Your boss? A peer? An HR business partner? Again, commitment and consistency are the keys – don’t give up!

Share your thoughts on this response in the comments section below, and ask us anything here: http://blog.mariposaleadership.com/ask-mariposa/

September 25, 2012 / Articles We Like / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: Empowering Tools & Techniques


Jeremy asked:

What tools and techniques can I use to empower members of my team that I recognize are not living up to their potential?

Tawny Lees, COO responded:

There are lots of ways to tackle this challenge. First off – get curious and observant. Have candid conversations about what is working/not working for them. Observe them carefully, looking for their genius. Look for strengths that can be better leveraged and roadblocks that you can remove. A great tool that we use is StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Individuals and teams use it to identify talent themes and then generate specific ideas to turn these talents into strengths in action. Another great resource is the HBR article “The Power of Small Wins” by Theresa Amabile and Steven Kramer – which describes how to engage people by enabling them to make progress in meaningful work every day. Whatever resource you may use, the fundamental exercise is for you to partner with the team member to uncover specific actions to try, and then be consistent in your support and follow-up.

Share your thoughts on this response in the comments section below, and ask us anything here: http://blog.mariposaleadership.com/ask-mariposa/

September 13, 2012 / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / News

ITM Coaching™ in Action

What, When, and How to Coach in Interrupt-Driven Cultures

“Work” is people having conversations with one another to get things done. Conversations drive innovation, change, and results. And coaching conversations, in particular, sustain the results leaders want. Mariposa Leadership, Inc. has worked in high-tech and financial services organizations for the past 16 years. In that time, we have developed and taught ITM (In-The-Moment) Coaching™ — a practical model that helps leaders sustain change and make results stick in fast-paced, interrupt-driven companies. People get interrupted frequently in the course of a day. This is the norm. ITM Coaching™ works because managers leverage the learning opportunities that present themselves and interrupt people to give feedback. Managers are leveraging a system that already exists. An effective leader looks for opportunities to coach “anytime, anywhere.” This perspective flies in the face of the typical manager who says, “I just don’t have enough time to coach.”

ITM Coaching™ is a simple, yet powerful approach. The skills associated with the approach form a user-friendly acronym: RAR.

Rapport – Get into behavioral rapport quickly

Assess – Understand the situation

Re-frame – Help others solve the problem with a new insight or action

As simple as these three steps may sound, usually one of the steps is left out. Here are three examples of the same scenario in which one of the crucial steps of RAR is missing. Also included is the impact to the situation and possible remedies using RAR.

Scenario: An individual is in the middle of a crisis situation and runs to his/her boss to get coached on how to solve the issue.

Situation missing “Rapport”: Despite the explicit contract the boss has to coach the individual on business issues, it does not appear on the surface that the boss cares about the issue because he is distracted by his email. Remedy: Relationships are built over time; behavioral rapport must take place at any given moment and in every conversation. The boss needs to not only make eye contact, he needs to match the direct report’s body language. For example, if the direct report is sitting down and leaning back in his chair, then the coach should do the same. This will signal to the direct report that the coach is truly “with” him/her.

Situation missing “Assess”: The boss doesn’t fully understand the situation and jumps in immediately to tell the individual what to do and is off target on a couple of attempts. Remedy: To effectively assess, the coach must slow down to listen and ask relevant questions. Once the coach fully understands the situation, then it’s appropriate to offer a relevant response.

Situation missing “Re-frame”: The boss asks lots of questions but doesn’t close the conversation and allow the opportunity for the direct report to take a next action step. And, in the end, the conversation takes longer than necessary. Remedy: It is important to get to the “gem” that is going to help the direct report re-frame the problem. A “re-frame” is a new way of thinking about an issue that leads a direct report to a new action, behavior, or perspective about the situation. The direct report must walk away with a “distinction” — something tangible that they can do differently.

With the hectic and fast-paced nature of organizations, we find the simplicity of the ITM Coaching™ model something that managers can easily refer to and practice. Leaving out any one of the 3 crucial steps will significantly minimize the investment already made in having the conversation in the first place. By remembering to incorporate all three practices, you are increasing the likelihood of success and return on your time and energy invested.

For more information about ITM Coaching™ and to register for our October workshop, visit our website.

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