Category Archives: From The Founder’s Desk

Knowledge, insights, tips, ideas, innovation—All of our Founder’s wisdom and experience of over a decade shared here.

CUSTOMER FOCUS

HOW TO EXECUTE ON THE PROMISE OF CUSTOMER FOCUS by Ranjay Gulati

To fight commoditization, companies in many industries are shifting their marketing focus from products to solutions — packages of previously stand-alone offerings. But this change requires significant structural change in order to release and leverage the knowledge and expertise that traditionally reside in silos. Four sets of activities are necessary to break through common organizational boundaries:

1. Coordination. These activities allow employees to concentrate more on the needs of their customers than of their silos. Coordination may involve the creation of new functional or geographic units, but a less disruptive approach is to layer boundary-spanning, customer-centric structures over existing ones.

2. Culture. Cultural elements like metrics and incentives play an important role in fostering a cooperative environment. For example, people should be evaluated and rewarded based on customer-focused behaviors. Service to the customer should be included among key organizational values.Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 7.08.34 pm

3. Capability. Coordinated, cooperative environments require both multi-domain skills (ability to work with multiple products and services) and boundary-spanning skills (ability to forge connections across internal boundaries). But because such generalist capabilities are not widely rewarded or developed, it takes a deliberate effort to create generalist training opportunities and attractive career paths.

4. Connection. The final component in the silo-busting effort is to forge new links externally. For instance, it may be possible to cut costs by outsourcing, or to create even higher-value solutions by working with a complementary partner.

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COLOR Q PERSONALITY SYSTEM

THE COLOR Q PERSONALITY SYSTEM: ITS FOUNDATION AND HISTORY

The idea of defining and describing personality types is as old as civilization itself. Famously, in 400 BCE, Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen believed humans were dominated by one of four “humors:”Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 00.57.18

1. Sanguine people were cheerful and confident

2. Melancholy people were pensive and gloomy

3. Phlegmatic people were calm and steady

4. Choleric people were mercurial and ill-tempered

The field burgeoned when Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung theorized that humans engaged with reality using predominantly four “functions,” which he identified as thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition. In the 1940s, Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers, avid students of human behavior, used Jung’s theory of types to develop a personality assessment model; they believed that understanding the needs, behaviors, and motivations of workers would help wartime employers more effectively and successfully match people new to the workforce — primarily women — to jobs that would suit them best. Since then, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) assessment has become one of the most widely used and extensively tested personality assessment instruments available. Other type-based assessment models exist, with the best of them (notably the Keisey Temperament Sorter) based on or drawing heavily from both Jung’s work and the MBTI model. The Color Q personality assessment instrument also draws on the seminal work of Briggs and Myers.

Zichy’s Color Q personality assessment divides the population into four groups and assigns a color name to each of these dominant personality preferences:

*Greens — 17 percent of the population. “Creative” Greens are empathic, humanistic, and compassionate theorists with highly developed written and verbal communications skills. Happiest in egalitarian, idea-oriented, supportive environments, they embrace change and pursue it enthusiastically.

*Reds — 27 percent of the population. “Action-oriented” Reds resist rigidity, schedules, and hierarchies, preferring to act on instinct, follow their impulses, and rely on their ability to remain calm and capable in crises. Excellent negotiators and troubleshooters, they value flexibility, variety, and fun, collegial work environments.

*Blues — 10 percent of the population. “Visionary” Blues excel at dealing with complex, theoretical issues, developing new systems, and strategic thinking. Competitive, precise, and unfailingly logical, they value knowledge for its own sake. They prefer setting their own high standards and benchmarks to explaining or maintaining someone else’s procedures and systems.

*Golds — 46 percent of the population. “Grounded, realistic” Golds excel as administrators and protectors of systems, people, goods, services, and schedules. Detailed list-makers and organizers, they appreciate procedures, respect chains of command, happily rally the team and lead the effort, and gladly accept responsibility. They resist change and dislike abstractions, hypotheticals, and untested ideas.

Each of the four colors can be further refined by the addition of a “backup” personality style, a set of secondary characteristics: Greens can have Gold or Red backups; Reds can have Blue or Green backups; Blues can have Gold or Red backups; and Golds can have Blue or Green backups. In addition to falling into one of these eight subcategories, people will be further classified as either extroverts or introverts.

THINKING PROCESS

THE GATEKEEPER OF THINKING

People who think positively outperform better-trained, pessimistic workers by more than 50 percent. The prevailing thinking pattern of a team or an organization defines what it is and what it does. The boundaries that the leader sets determine the type of thinking that prevails.Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.54.41 pm

Naysayers can influence everyone around them in negative ways. Anticipating negative and positive outcomes causes distinct chemical reactions in the brain. The threatened brain freezes up and works at diminished capacity. Anticipation of good outcomes causes the brain to produce dopamine, which makes it more alert and interested. Leaders should model the philosophy that action produces positive results.

In contrast, those who are negative in their thinking have learned to be helpless. Rather than taking action to banish pain, they believe that no matter what they do, the pain will remain, so they do nothing. The brain learns to be passive and shuts down. This style of thinking has three stages, known as the three Ps:

1. Personal: People blame themselves, thinking they caused the problem because they were bad.

2. Pervasive: People generalize that the problem from a single situation applies to every situation, believing nothing can go well.

3. Permanent: People believe the problem can never change for the better. Nothing will be different, so why try?

One important role of leadership is eliminating negative thinking when it seeps into the organization. Find-a-way thinking separates people whose circumstances overcome them and people who overcome their circumstances. As long as leaders set strong boundaries that do not allow negative thinking, employees will find a way. The belief that success is within reach is one of the strongest predictors of goal achievement.

Feel Connected with teams

POWER THROUGH CONNECTION

Improving performance by learning new skills is not the only way to heighten production. Sometimes, improving performance depends upon changing the emotional atmosphere and improving employee relationships.

When people feel connected to others, they experience less negative stress. Relationships change brain chemistry, making people less vulnerable to negativity. To foster a feeling of connection in the workplace, leaders have to set aside the right kinds and amounts of time for interacting.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.54.58 pmMore meetings build connection and unity. They should involve talking about work, behaviors, roles, and responsibilities, so people can see the different ways their experiences connect with those of others.

Leaders should have several types of meetings with their teams:

*Daily check-in: 5-10 minutes.

*Weekly tactical: 45-90 minutes.

*Monthly strategic: 2-4 hours.

*Quarterly off-site review: 1 to 2 days.

The most important ingredient for successful meetings is having a predictable schedule and structure.

Another way leaders can set boundaries is by creating connections. Factors that neurologically build connection among coworkers include:

*A shared purpose that is clearly defined within the meeting.

*Awareness that allows everyone to operate from the same facts and realities.

*Nonverbal cues, such as turning off cell phones, that indicate a willingness to actively engage with others.

*Collaboration in an environment where people are physically and mentally present and engaged in problem solving.

*Coherent and relevant narratives that engage the brain more fully and illustrate people’s roles in the company story as it moves forward.

*Conflict resolution that confronts those interpersonal issues that hinder high performance.

*Emotional regulation that results from connecting with others for feedback and empathy.

*Emotional reflection that focuses on the present and leads to insight and openness within the group.

*Emotional repair that occurs in a group bound by mutual trust.

*Listening that is active and intentional so that each member of the group knows and understands the others.

FIRST TIME MANAGER – PART 1

SScreen Shot 2015-11-10 at 7.20.26 pmtep-by-step advice to middle managers about how to become better leaders and help their organizations succeed. He illuminates the unique nature of middle management — the opportunity it affords to influence both those in positions above and below — and teaches those working at this level to hone their skills for both the good of their organizations and their own future advancement. In this “how to” manual, Baldoni provides nine strategic steps for the committed, dedicated, and passionate manager who wishes to engage in this style of managing up that he aptly labels “leading up.”

STEP 1: LEADING UP

“Leading up” is becoming a person a boss can depend on to think, act, and be accountable for results. Baldoni opens with general advice on how to approach leading through others:

*Energize Yourself. A person who wishes to inspire others should know where their energy comes from, what they can do with that energy, and their limits.

*Think Like a Boss. A good leader keeps an ear to the ground, comes out from behind their desk, and interacts with team members and customers.

*Persuade Up. All leaders, whether political or corporate, need to be compelling. They must be well versed in the facts when they have big ideas (for example, how do their ideas improve the bottom line?), present these ideas well, sell them, get involved with planning, channel their passion, leverage their customers, and keep pushing even if an idea is rejected the first time around.

*Assert Yourself Diplomatically. While there are times, like in an emergency, when leaders need to act overtly assertive, in general a quiet confidence gets better results than a “hey, look at me” attitude. Effective leadership means listening to others, speaking calmly, and acting decisively.

STEP 2: THINKING AND ACTING STRATEGICALLY

Baldoni explores how to successfully lead up, emphasizing talent development, teamwork, and using one’s influence to achieve good for an organization. To this end, he offers advice on how to disengage from moment-to-moment activities and look at the big picture:

*Strike the Right Balance. Middle managers need to take a step back and consider broader strategies and possibilities.

*Rip Up the Box. Managers leading up need to do more than just ask people to think “outside the box.” They must set clear, realistic expectations. It may also be helpful to look at a problem from an alternative viewpoint. When team members come back with ideas, it is important to hear them out; even if the idea is not exactly what the manager had in mind, it may be the kernel on which to build.

*Unlock and Apply Creativity. Managers should attempt to stimulate discovery. They might do this by inviting outsiders to speak to their teams, or conversely, by sending their teams out to work in the community. Managers should also reflect on their own actions.

*Encourage Imagination. Managers have an opportunity to lead by example, emboldening their team members. They must give their people time and space to engage in experimentation, and combat the resistance to change that often comes from those in the middle.

*Innovate at the Edge. This means challenging convention, encouraging ideas that reflect new realities, finding a home for these ideas, appreciating incremental innovation as well as big ideas, and celebrating creative efforts.

*Inspire Hope and Innovation. According to Baldoni, hope can be a building block if it is linked to tangible results. It is critical to have a vision — such as where does the organization want to go? Once that is established, it is necessary to market the vision both inside and outside of the organization and then to execute it.

*Promote Strategic Idea Gathering. Baldoni advocates looking outside of an organization, and even an industry, for ideas on how to improve function.

*Apply What You Learn Strategically. The challenge for those who lead in the middle is to figure out how to apply information strategically, but first they have get on top of its flow. Managers can assign people internally to monitor the flow of information. Other team members can be tasked with going out into the world to observe competitors and customers. Then all team members come together to share and apply.

*Think Counterintuitively. Sometimes doing the opposite of what is expected is effective. Managers can think ahead to what obstacles their teams might face and brainstorm unconventional solutions.

*Hold to Your Values. Acting counter to expectation has its pros, but in the end, leaders’ actions need to remain in keeping with their true characters.

*Leverage Peer-to-Peer Networks Strategically. Facilitating peer-to-peer communication ensures appropriate knowledge transfer. Managers can encourage functions where members of networks mingle. They can also appoint ambassadors to visit functions of the supply chain and report back. Finally, they can promote the use of e-channels to foster communication.

*Ensure Credibility. Middle managers must rely on peer-to-peer networks, but in doing so, they must vet their sources to ensure that they do not become mired in gossip and innuendo.

All of this aside, the larger point is that the boss needs someone who can think first, and then act from a position of knowledge.

Team Effectiveness

HOW MANAGEMENT TEAMS CAN HAVE A GOOD FIGHT

By Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Jean L. Kahwajy, and L.J. Bourgeois III

When performed constructively, conflict among team members helps teams make high-stakes decisions quickly and effectively. Through their research, the authors found that teams can successfully leverage constructive conflict and limit interpersonal conflict by:Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.55.15 am

1. Focusing on the facts. Teams must acquire a wealth of objective and up-to-date data about their businesses and competitors so that team members can have informed debates about critical issues.

2. Multiplying the alternatives. Having only two options can polarize a team and create destructive conflict. To avoid this and encourage a healthy debate, managers must offer four to five options for team members.

3. Creating common goals. Leaders must frame strategic choices as collaborative rather than competitive exercises so that members feel as though achieving the best solution is in everyone’s best interest.

4. Using humor. Teams with low levels of interpersonal conflict use humor to relieve tension and provide a collaborative spirit among members.

5. Balancing the power structure. Interpersonal conflict is low in “balanced power structures” where the CEO has the most power, but other management members have substantial power in their own areas of responsibility and can participate in strategic decisions.

6. Seeking consensus with qualification. Conflict is managed in the two-step process of “consensus with qualification.” First, executives discuss an issue and try to reach a consensus. If they cannot, the most relevant senior manager makes the decision with the input of the rest of the group in consideration.

VIRTUOSO TEAMS

VIRTUOSO TEAMS

By Bill Fischer and Andy Boynton

Although “virtuoso teams,” comprised of top experts in their fields, are best at managing high-stake situations, leaders often settle for ordinary project teams to avoid the egocentric nature that “virtuoso” members are notorious for. Consequently, they get ordinary results. To put together a high performing virtuoso team, managers must:

*Assemble the stars. Hire the people with the best skills who are willing to dive into risky challenges. Virtuoso teams blend their collaboration with a sense of competition.

*Build the ego of the group. Managers must help team members break through their egocentrism to become a powerful, unified team by cultivating a single-minded focus on a common goal.

*Make work a contact sport. Instead of allowing members to debate and discuss remotely, managers of virtuoso teams must facilitate face-to-face conversations in order to foster impassioned dialogues.p2

*Challenge the customer. Managers of virtuoso teams must foster the belief that customers want more, not less, and encourage members to deliver solutions consistent with this higher perception.

*Herd the cats. Virtuoso teams do not emphasize consensus and compromise, but use goals and strict deadlines to balance members’ needs for individual attention and intellectual freedom.

WHEN TEAMS CAN’T DECIDE

WHEN TEAMS CAN’T DECIDE

By Bob Frisch

The trouble with cross-functional team decision making is the process itself. To improve their teams’ decision-making processes, leaders must first acknowledge that decision making is problematic because each member has constituencies in the organization they are vying for. Leaders can improve the decision-making process by:

*Clearly articulating the outcome. When the outcome the team wants to collectively accomplish is unclear, individual members can choose options based on unspoken assumptions.

*Providing a range of options for achieving outcomes. Leaders must ensure that there is a broader range of options beyond “accept the proposed plan,” “reject the proposed plan,” and “defer the decision.”

*Testing fences and walls. When team members encounter a presumed boundary, they must take the time to determine if it is an immovable “wall” or a “fence” that can be moved.

*Surfacing preferences early. To focus a discussion, leaders must survey team members before meetings and identify their preferences.

*Stating each other’s pros and cons. Leaders should make sure both sides of every option are thoroughly voiced. This often requires assigning a devil’s advocate to make counterarguments and depersonalize the discussion.

*Devising new options that preserve the best features of existing ones. If a team has reached an impasse, it is often necessary for it to reframe its options in a way that preserves the original intent.

EI in groups

BUILDING THE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE OF GROUPS

By Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff

Although group Emotional Intelligence (EI) can help skilled teams reach their highest potential, it is far more complex than individual EI and therefore more difficult to cultivate. To build group EI, a team must be aware of and constructively regulate the emotions of:Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.54.50 pm

*Individual team members. To understand the sources of individuals’ emotional behaviors, members can perform role-playing exercises and adopt the opinions and styles of others. To regulate individual emotional behavior, teams must learn how to constructively confront others.

*The whole group. Teams must use self-evaluation and feedback from others as norms that cultivate group self-awareness of their emotional states, strengths, and weaknesses. To regulate group-level emotion, teams must establish norms that create resources for working with emotions, foster an affirmative environment, and encourage proactive problem solving.

*Other key groups. Teams can cultivate awareness of the emotions of other key groups by having team members act as liaisons to important constituencies. To regulate the emotions of other key groups, it is necessary to develop cross-boundary relationships in which appreciation is shown.

COACHING MODEL

Coaching modelsFullSizeRender-3

A coaching model is a framework; it does not tell you how to coach but, rather, it’s the underlying structure that you can use when you’re coaching someone. It’s like having a high-level strategy that allows you to “see the battlefield,” therefore increasing your ability to respond adequately to whatever situation you’re faced with.

Two popular coaching models are the FUEL model and the GROW model. The FUEL model finds mention in the book The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow, by John H. Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett. John Whitmore popularized the GROW model in Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose — The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership.

Let’s take a brief look at both these models.

FUEL model

The four steps in the FUEL model are:

  1. Frame the conversation — Set the context for conversation by agreeing on purpose, process, and desired outcomes of the discussion.
  2. Understand the current state — Explore the current state from the coachee’s point of view, expanding his or her awareness of the situation to determine the real coaching issue.
  3. Explore the desired state — Articulate the vision of success and explore multiple alternative paths before prioritizing methods of achieving this vision.
  4. Lay out a success plan — Identify the specific, time-bound action steps to be taken to achieve the desired results, and determine milestones for follow-up and accountability.

Frame the conversation. Framing the conversation ensures that the coach and the coachee agree to be in the same conversation and makes explicit what the conversation is about. It is important to remember that the coach owns the process, whereas the coachee owns the content of the conversation.

  • Identify the behavior or issue to discuss.
    • I’d like to talk about this issue . . . [if the coach initiates the conversation]
    • What is the most important thing for us to focus on? [if the coachee initiates the conversation]
  • Determine the purpose or outcomes of the conversation.
    • By the end of conversation, I would like to accomplish . . .
    • What else would you like to make sure that we address?
  • Agree on the process for the conversation
    • Here’s how I thought we could proceed . . .
    • How does that sound?

Understand the current state. As the coach begins to understand the current state, he needs to maintain a curious mind-set. As a coach, you play two key roles during this stage of the conversation: acting as a mirror and being a great exploration guide. Asking open-ended, nonleading questions allows greater insight and clarity to both the coach and the coachee. It is important to understand that people will not change until they feel a need to change. The coach needs to offer his or her perspective only when it adds to the conversation and creates greater awareness for the coachee.

  • Understand the coachee’s point of view.
    • How do you see this situation?
    • What is happening?
    • What is working well?
    • What makes this challenging?
    • How might you have contributed to this situation?
    • How might others see this situation?
  • Determine the consequences of continuing on the current path.
    • What impact is this having on you? On others?
    • What are the consequences if the situation does not change?
    • How does this influence your goals and what you are trying to accomplish?
    • What are the long-term implications?
  • Offer your perspective.
    • Could I share some observations I made?
    • Could I offer some other consequences to consider?

Explore the desired state. It is of utmost importance that the coach does not rush the coachee into problem solving — it needs to be slow and deliberate to create the ideal vision and generate alternatives for achieving the vision. The coach must negotiate and influence as to what would form part of the minimum measures of success. If the coachee gets stuck, the coach should step to his or her side and become a brainstorming partner.

  • Understand the vision for success.
    • What would you like to see happen here?
    • What would your ideal state look like?
  • Set goals and performance expectations.
    • What are your goals? What would you like to accomplish?
    • Here’s how I see it . . .
  • Explore alternative paths of action.
    • What might be some approaches you can take?
    • What else might work?
    • Could I offer a couple of thoughts? You might want to consider . . .
  • Explore possible barriers.
    • What are the major barriers preventing this change from happening?
    • Where would the biggest resistance to this change come from?

Lay out a success plan. In the last step, the coachee needs to articulate specific action steps to gain clarity as to what needs to happen next. This will provide the coachee with a clear vision on the goal to be achieved. The coach assigns timelines to the action points for follow-up and accountability. The coach finds creative ways to support the coachee in achieving his goals.

  • Develop and agree on an action plan and timeliness.
    • What specific actions will help you achieve your goal?
    • What will your first step be?
    • Who can help hold you accountable?
    • How long will you stay focused on your goals and plans?
  • Enlist support from others.
    • Who can support you in moving forward?
    • How can I support you?
  • Set milestones for follow-up and accountability.
    • Let’s review the plan.
    • When should we touch base on this again?

GROW model

The GROW Model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring your coaching or mentoring sessions. GROW stands for Goal, Current Reality, Options, and Will or way forward. A good analogy about the GROW model is to think how you would plan a journey. You initially decide where you are going (goal); understand where you currently are (current reality); explore various routes to your destination (options); and finally proceed on the journey (will), successfully overcoming any obstacles you may have along the way.

Like most coaching models, the GROW model assumes that the coach is not an expert in the client’s situation. He only acts as a facilitator, offering advice and helping the client choose the best option of his own volition.

Establish the goal. First, the coach and the coachee need to look at the behavior that they want to change and then structure this change as a goal  to achieve.

With respect to setting goals, it is important to distinguish between end goals and performance goals. An end goal is the final objective — become the market leader, be appointed a sales director, win the gold medal, etc. — which is seldom within your control. A performance goal identifies the performance level that will provide a good chance of achieving the end goal. The performance goal is largely within one’s control and generally provides a means of measuring progress. Examples could include “95 percent of production to pass quality control the first time,” “Reduce weight by ten pounds by December 2013,” etc. An end goal should, wherever possible, be supported by a performance goal. The end goal may provide the inspiration, but the performance goal defines the specification.

Besides supporting an end goal with a performance goal, goals need not only be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound) but PURE (Positively stated, Understood, Relevant, Ethical) and CLEAR (Challenging, Legal, Environmentally sound, Appropriate, Recorded).

When doing this, it’s useful to ask questions like:

  • How will you know that you have achieved the goal? How will you know that the problem or issue is solved?
  • Does this goal fit with your overall career objectives? And does it fit with the team’s objectives?

Examine the current reality. The coachee is asked to describe his or her current reality. Too often, people try to solve a problem or reach a goal without fully considering their starting point, and often they are missing some information that they need in order to reach their goal effectively. It is in the reality phase that the questions should most often be initiated by the interrogatives “what,” “when,” “where,” “who,” and “how much.” How and why should be used only sparingly or when no other phrase will suffice. The reality answers should be descriptive, not judgmental, to ensure honesty and accuracy. The answers must be of sufficient quality and frequency to provide the coach with a feedback loop.

Questions include:

  • What is happening now (what, who, when, and how often)? What is the effect or result of this?
  • Have you already taken any steps toward your goal?
  • Does this goal conflict with any other goals or objectives?

Explore the options. The purpose of this stage is not to find the “right” answer but to create and list as many alternative courses of action as possible. The quantity of options is more important at this stage than the quality or feasibility of the options. It is from this broad range of creative possibilities that specific action steps will be selected. The coach would need to create an environment in which the participants feel safe enough to express their thoughts and ideas without inhibition or fear of judgment from the coach or others. Once a comprehensive list is prepared, the Will phase of coaching may be simple, selecting the best from the list. However, in certain complex cases, it may be necessary to reexamine the list by noting the costs and benefits of each course of action.

Typical questions include

  • What else could you do?
  • What if this or that constraint were removed? Would that change things?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  • What factors or considerations will you use to weigh the options?
  • What do you need to stop doing in order to achieve this goal?
  • What obstacles stand in your way?

Establish the will. The purpose of the final phase of the coaching sequence is to convert the discussion into a decision.

Useful questions to ask here include:

  • So what will you do now, and when? What else will you do?
  • Will this action meet your goal?
  • What could stop you moving forward? How will you overcome this?
  • How can you keep yourself motivated?
  • What support do you need?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, what is the degree of certainty you have that you will carry out the actions agreed?
  • When do you need to review progress? Daily, weekly, monthly? 

Finally, decide on a date when you’ll both review the coachee’s progress. This will provide some accountability and allow for a change in approach if the original plan isn’t working. Thanks scrumalliance.FullSizeRender-3