“The ability to win hearts before minds is not easy. It’s a delicate balance of art and science – another coincidental grammatical construction. Why is it that things are not a balance of science and art, but always art before science? Perhaps it is a subtle clue our language-impaired limbic brain is sending us to help us see that the art of leading is about following your heart. Perhaps our brains have been trying to tell us that WHY must come first.
“Great leaders and great organizations are good at seeing what most of us can’t see. They are good at giving us things that we would never think of asking for. [Note: Henry Ford once summed it up best. ‘If I had asked people what they wanted,’ he said, ‘they would have said a faster horse.’]…Products with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the world who they are and what they believe. Remember, people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. If a company [or a leader] does not have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than the WHAT the company does [and the leader asks them to do].
“In business, like a bad date, many companies work so hard to prove their value without saying WHY they exist in the first place. You’ll have to do more than show your résumé before someone finds you appealing.”
The same is true of leaders.
I highly recommend Simon Sinek’s Start with WHY: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, published by Portfolio/Penguin Group (2009).
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What are the signs that innovation in a company is set up to fail? Wouldn’t it be great to have a checklist on this? Unfortunately, innovation is too complicated and company-specific for one standard rule.
It is possible, however, to become better at spotting the signs of failure.
Here’s a list (in no particular order) of the red flags I look for when I talk with executives and innovation leaders trying to get an understanding of their corporate innovation capabilities.
[Here are five.]
• The lack of an innovation strategy: Executives and innovation leaders have failed to link innovation with overall corporate strategy. As a result, the innovation efforts have no clear direction, and there is not the necessary mix of incremental and radical innovation. No strategy, no focused effort, no results.
• No definition of innovation: Innovation means different things to different people. Every company should develop its own definition that fits its situation and should use this definition to build a common language for innovation initiatives.
• Too much focus on internal capabilities: The future of innovation is open and global. Who will understand this first? You? Or your competitors?
• Too much focus on open innovation: Yes, you need to go open, but open innovation is not the Holy Grail. A key to innovation success is the ability to combine internal and external resources and be in a position to act on opportunities.
• Internal silos are too firmly ingrained: If you cannot make innovation happen across your own business units and functions, how could you possibly expect your innovation to sing beyond your company borders?
* * *
To read the entire article, please visit: http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/mar2010/id20100330_141589.htm.
Stefan Lindegaard is a Copenhagen-based speaker, network facilitator, and adviser on open innovation and intrapreneurship. He is the author of the book, The Open Innovation Revolution.
(note: seldom do I write overt “commercials” on this blog. Here is one. It may be worth your time).
As journalists, when we start to read successive reports that come up with similar conclusions, we call it a story. When the results are this conclusive and this notable we may even call it a headline.
Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success
You should consider hiring us (Creative Communication Network) to conduct a business writing workshop in your company. Really.
Here’s the headline.
E-Mail Can Be A Great Source Of Confusion, and Frustration.
Everybody is having trouble handling e-mail. They spend too much time reading it, and way too much time writing and then re-writing it — and then with many e-mails they receive, they spend too much time deciphering them, trying to understand the writer’s point.
It is time consuming, and frustrating.
Well, my colleague Karl Krayer has created a terrific and incredibly useful/valuable business writing workshop. He teaches the principles in workshop format, and then we provide one-on-one coaching to individuals, critiquing their actual e-mails, and helping them write using the format we teach.
The format requires a half-day workshop, and a 30-minute coaching session later in the day with each individual from the morning workshop. (Karl leads the workshop – we both provide the individual coaching sessions).
We have done this in a number of large companies, and what prompted this post was this report from our most recent experience. This is a company that is seeing tangible results as more and more of their people receive this training, and more importantly, now write their e-mails using the principles we teach. Here is what the company’s Manager of Training & Development had to say:
Thank you so much for delivering the fourth Business Writing Workshop this past week.
Feedback sheets from the participants have some of the highest scores we have seen in recent memory for a training activity. In speaking with participants, it is clear they enjoyed the class and learned valuable writing skills. The only criticism was that the class itself was too short!
I appreciate your taking us on as a client. The Model is now beginning to be discussed amongst at least a segment of our employee population. I use it, my team uses it, and we discuss it when creating e-mails and communication that we send to our client base. And now, our client base is embracing it.
I look forward to the next two scheduled sessions. The July session already has a waiting list and the November session is nearly fully subscribed. Word of mouth about this workshop is now helping to create a critical mass of interested participants.
This approach really does help people learn to write clear, easy to understand, to-the-point e-mails. And this can be an incredible time saver. Just consider how many e-mails are not clear, thus communication has to be deciphered, clarified. The time wasted from unclear e-mails adds up in a hurry.
Contact Karl to schedule one of these business writing workshops in your company. It will be worth your time and investment. (Call Karl Krayer at (972) 601-1537 for details).
According to Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith, the single most important factor contributing to superior business results is how supported employees feel and that is determined by their organization’s people practices. “Our guiding question then became, what would help employees feel more supported by their organization’s people practices and enable a consequent improvement in business results?” After extensive research, “we surmised that the single biggest improvement organizations could make would be to become directly relevant to employees’ unique needs and circumstances…hence the ‘workforce of one’ was born.”
The exemplary companies that Cantrell and Smith discuss include Best Buy, Microsoft, Accenture, Procter & Gamble, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, The Container Store, Harrah’s, Sprint Nextel, Google, W.L. Gore, Taleo, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Men’s Wearhouse. All of these companies have recognized and then responded effectively to several trends “that are driving the workforce of one” initiatives: technology as an enabler of customization, employees viewed as customers, knowledge management’s impact of HR, C-suite focus on workforce performance, increasingly stronger competition for talent, and a highly diverse and independent (“free agent”) workforce that becomes moreso each day.
In different ways and to a varying degree, each of these companies took one or more of four basic approaches to customize its people practices while maintaining control and alignment with business strategy. Here are the approaches:
1. Segment the Workforce (e.g. Accenture and Capital One): “Just as organizations group customers based on shared preferences and needs and [then] create tailored experiences for each group, organizations can likewise group employees based on shared preferences and needs and [then] tailor people practices for each group.”
2. Offer Modular Choices (e.g. Deloitte Touche Tohmatzu and Tesco): This approach “lets employees or their managers select from a list of predefined, limited choices [perhaps requested by employees or their managers] based on what suits their needs and preferences best. Cafeteria benefit plans or allowing employees to select their own rewards from a set established by the organization are common examples of modular choice.”
3. Define Broad and Simple Rules (W.L. Gore and Best Buy). “Applied to human resources practices, a classic example of a broad and simple rule would be a broadband compensation scheme that collapses the organization’s job worth hierarchy into fewer, wider, yet more flexible salary ranges.”
4. Foster Employee-Defined Personalization (e.g. PepsiCo and Google) “The three customization approaches we have discussed thus far involve HR or some other central organizational group clearly defining people practices. With an employee-defined personalization approach, however, the employee or her manager largely defines the practice.”
Although the exemplary organizations are large and complicated, the Workforce of One concept is relevant to almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. How could your organization benefit from the approach? Cantrell and Smith provide a self-audit diagnostic on Page 51, followed by a Scoring Guide. Based on what the results of the self-audit suggests, now what? The material in Part Three offers some tools and ideas to help you build and manage your own workforce of one organization.
The material shared by Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith is best viewed as an anthology of insights, observations, lessons to be learned from real companies in real-world situations, and suggestions. What they provide enables their reader to possess a framework for innovation and improvisation, not an architectural blueprint or an operations manual. Obviously, those who read this book about customization must customize what they have learned.