October 31, 2014 / Articles We Like

On: "Free Your Strategy from Annual Planning"

How does your company define strategy? For many, the answer is through planning, budgeting, vision or metrics, among others. And that’s why we suggest reading this blog post by Ken Favaro.

In the strategy+business article, “Free Your Strategy from Annual Planning,” the author reminds us that strategy and planning are distinct and separate activities. Yet most companies merge them. Yes, strategy is hard, but combining it with planning creates a mess out of what ought to be a positive driving force for the health of your business instead of capturing opportunities. In this article, you’ll find three key tips for unlocking the true power of strategy in your organization. Read it now.

How does your company approach strategy?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

September 26, 2014 / Book Reviews

Book Review | Customer Experience 3.0

customerexp30Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service
By John A. Goodman

Head: (5 out of 5)
Heart: (3 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (4 out of 5)

A top notch customer experience relies on more than providing great customer service. Customer experience management involves the entire company, setting and managing customer expectations from end-to-end and removing barriers along the way.  Companies also need to be able to quantify their customer experience strategy because as the author likes to cite, if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.  This book addresses all of this and more.

The content of Customer Experience 3.0 delivers a framework and strategies for creating a successful end-to-end customer experience:

  1. Meet reasonable customer expectations the first time and warn of product limitations.
  2. Make communication channels effortless for customers who want help.
  3. Empower employees to handle customer service issues and allow them to emotionally connect.
  4. Build a full lifecycle Voice of the Customer (VOC) process, with financial analysis.

This book is based on decades of research by the author, John A. Goodman, one of the original pioneers of the customer experience industry. This practical guide addresses many service, marketing and technology myths and offers tips on using the best tools available to enhance the customer experience. Leaders interested in understanding how to create a successful end-to-end customer experience that can be measured and quantified will want to read this book.   Buy it now.

November 25, 2013 / Articles We Like

On: "15 Innovative Strategic Planning Questions to Prepare for 2014"

We share this article by Mike Brown, founder of The BrainzoomingTM Group, and author of its popular blog on strategy, creativity and innovation, because the executives we work with want to make a strategic impact in the year ahead.   Mike Brown delivers 15 unique strategic thinking questions executives can use to gain a fresh perspective on these thorny strategic planning topics:

  • fostering innovative, disruptive ideas
  • identifying innovative strategic opportunities
  • creating competitive advantage
  • prioritizing market strategy opportunities
  • addressing professional development

Read it now.

August 20, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Decision Making Strategy

Janice asks: Our department needs a new operational process. We have some options. I’ve been doing this for 15+ years and I’m leaning towards just making a decision and announcing to my team. But I sense there may be some push back if I do that. How can I approach this so I have team support but can move quickly?

Tawny Lees, COO, responds:

I commend you on giving the decision making strategy some thought!  Every decision is unique in its impact on stakeholders, therefore might need a different decision making strategy.

With each decision facing you, start by taking a look the stakeholders involved.  Who will be affected by the decision? Who cares whether and how you implement? Who might block it from being implemented?  If many key stakeholders are involved, you will want to engage them in the process of decision making in order to increase buy-in and to inform the best decision.

In your situation, it sounds as if being the sole decision maker is not optimal as you risk low engagement and buy-in for the decision.  Here are two alternate decision-making strategies you can use.

  • Sole decision maker with feedback:   One person is accountable for the decision but takes input from stakeholders to inform it.  Gathering input takes more time than making the decision on your own, but stakeholders feel more involved in the process, thus their level of buy-in and empowerment in implementing it is higher.
  • Group Consensus:  When you drive for group consensus, the group is empowered to come to agreement, leading to high support of the decision.   As you can imagine, this takes more time and is best saved for decisions that require a high degree of support.

Either way you go, may it clear to others how you intend the decision to be made. Good luck!

July 25, 2013 / Blog / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Wise Talk

July 2013 Wise Talk Recap with Sue


Click here to listen to and download the full audio recording of July’s Wise Talk with NY Times bestselling author Kevin Kruse (@kruse) and Mariposa CEO @suebethanis!  Kevin’s practical advice and insights will help you get started on building and executing an employee engagement plan.

July 2, 2013 / Book Reviews

Book Reviews: Employee Engagement 2.0: How to Motivate Your Team for High Performance and Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work

book_cover_employee_engagement_20-187x30013Head: (4 out of 5)
Heart: (4 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

A disengaged workforce can wreak havoc on the best business strategies.  Low productivity, decreased customer service, high turnover, low sales and margins are a handful of symptoms a business might experience as a result. The good news is creating engaged teams doesn’t take a lot of time or money, according to author Kevin Kruse, a former Best Place to Work winner, serial entrepreneur and Top 100 Business Thought Leader. Combining research and real-world experience, he explains how to quickly create engaged teams.

Employee Engagement 2.0 is an easy-to-read and practical guide targeted at managers and leaders.  The author draws on simple yet timeless principles that form the crux of employee engagement: managers are the key influencers of engagement and communication, growth, recognition and trust are the key engagement drivers.  This book outlines the process he used to build and sell several, multimillion dollar technology companies, winning both Inc 500 and Best Place to Work awards along the way.

In this busy leader’s guide, you will learn:

  • The definition of true employee engagement (not just happy or satisfied)
  • How engagement directly drives business metrics like sales and profits
  • A recipe for making anyone feel engaged
  • How to quantify engagement
  • 7 questions to identify your engagement weakness
  • How to facilitate a team meeting on engagement
  • Communication that ensures a rapid, two-way flow of information
  • How to make your strategic vision “sticky”
  • How to implement a complete engagement plan in only 8 weeks

employeeengagement for everyoneWhile managers are key influencers of engagement, individual employees also assume responsibility for fostering a fully engaged environment.  Managers and employees need to work together to build a thriving culture. His new book, Employee Engagement for Everyone is a guide targeted for individual employees, to help them understand what employee engagement is, why it’s important and how a thriving company benefits them personally. The four key engagement drivers – communication, growth, recognition and trust – are reviewed from the perspective of the individual.  The book is rich with tips to increase individual employee knowledge and understanding of how to drive engagement on their own in these areas.

The content in these books is actionable, without theories or long-winded language, and includes additional resources for more information.   Leaders with business growth strategies will definitely want to read Employee Engagement 2.0, and perhaps give their employees a copy of Employee Engagement for Everyone.

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.

April 1, 2013 / Book Reviews / Strategy

Book Review: Reinventing You

ReinventingYou-Dorie-ClarkReinventing You:  Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future
By: Dorie Clark

Head: (4.5 out of 5)
Heart: (3.5 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

Professional branding is not just for the job seeker.  At some point, executives at all stages of their careers face the need to reinvent themselves to keep up with the pace of corporate change.  In Reinventing You:  Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, author and marketing expert Dorie Clark offers a strategic road map and do-it-yourself exercises for professional branding.

Both insightful and practical, this step-by-step guide is rich with advice anchored by case studies and anecdotal tips.  The exercises and reflection points help readers define their unique value and ultimately cultivate and communicate that value to others.  Readers will learn how to:

  • Understand the starting point
  • Research the destination
  • Test-drive the path to determine fit
  • Develop and refine skills for reinvention
  • Identify and engage a mentor
  • Leverage points of difference to stand out
  • Create a narrative that makes sense
  • Reintroduce the new brand
  • Concretely demonstrate expertise and prove worth
  • Monitor perception of the new brand

As the author notes, professional branding is taking control of life and living strategically, by defining career goals and taking steps to reach them.  The applicability of professional branding goes beyond simply landing a new job.  It can aid in breaking through misconceptions about capabilities which are preventing a promotion, transitioning to a different area of a company and building a compelling case for an unusual background as an asset in a career change.

In an age in which competition for jobs is fierce and one cannot simply rely on being noticed because of hard work, staying relevant and competitive through reinvention is important to fit into the new context of work.  Buy the book.

March 4, 2013 / Book Reviews / Strategy / Wise Talk

Book Review: Playing to Win

playing-to-win-cover-newPlaying to Win: How Strategy Really Works
By A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin

Head: (4 out of 5)
Heart: (3.5 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (4.5 out of 5)

In Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, authors A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin draw from their years of experience working at Proctor & Gamble and the Rotman School of Management to explain the strategy behind one of the most successful corporate turnarounds of the century. They address how leaders of companies, big and small, can use simple techniques in their own organizations. The authors set out to right the wrong thinking about strategy.

Strategy is not about having a vision, and it’s not about having a plan. For the authors it is about winning. Winning requires a strategy that is managed and joined by a set of five questions. Playing to Win provides a provocative definition of strategy as the answer to these five questions – the same five questions no matter what your industry, size or situation:

  • What is our winning aspiration?
  • Where will we play?
  • How will we win?
  • What capabilities must we have in place to win?
  • What management systems are required to support our choices?

Strategy is boiled down to two key factors: 1) Where to play? and 2) How to win?  “These two choices,” write Martin and Lafley, “are tightly bound up with one another, form the very heart of strategy and are the two most critical questions in strategy formulation.” Playing To Win answers these questions in a winning way through a simple framework that’s both easy to understand, use, and makes it accessible to all.

Strategy begins with making choices and tough decisions. If this does not happen, you will never have a genuine strategy. But as the book points out, developing a strategy is not difficult, provided that those involved are prepared to address key questions and welcome a diversity of views to identify the best direction for the business. Buy it

February 15, 2013 / Book Reviews

Book Review: Build, Borrow, or Buy


Build, Borrow, or Buy:
Solving the Growth Dilemma
By: Laurence Capron and Will Mitchell

Head: (4 of 5)
Heart: (3.5 of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (4.5 of 5)

Build, Borrow, or Buy draws from two decades of research into how some companies succeed in developing powerful new business capability, while many others fail. Authors Laurence Capron and Will Mitchell provide us with powerful and essential tools to help leaders decide whether to innovate within (build), work with joint ventures (borrow), or expand (buy) when they need to acquire new resources for growth.

The book provides examples from large corporations, such as HP, Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Cisco, as well as smaller companies (from all over the world), which have created sustainable growth strategies reflected in the pathway framework:

  • Build – When should you develop internally?
  • Borrow – The untapped potential of strategic partners and joint ventures
  • Buy – Mergers and acquisitions strategy

The authors argue that there is no one sure fire way of growing, and that firms at different times, and for different reasons, should pursue whatever is most suitable, using their framework to help make the right decisions. Nevertheless, many firms rely on only one model for growing, and suffer accordingly.

Build, Borrow or Buy provides valuable insights for all decision makers. They all have a vital leadership role to ensure that the resource pathways framework will deliver powerful benefits to the success of the business.

Click here to learn more or join our February Wise Talk with author Laurence Capron and submit your questions.

We welcome your thoughts in the comments section below.

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