February 21, 2016


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs

1. Going Fast To Go Slow

Ten years after first reading it, consultant Susan Cramm is still taken by an article on The Neuroscience of Leadership by David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz. It advised “large-scale behaviour change requires a large-scale change in mental maps,” which in turn requires “some kind of event or experience that allows people to provoke themselves, in effect, to change their attitudes and expectations more quickly and dramatically than they normally would.”

She therefore urges leaders making change to go slow to go fast — give people time to provoke themselves and change. In strategy+business, she sets out a three-part framework for change: Capturing attention, securing approval, and orchestrating adoption.

“Investing sufficient time and effort to gain attention and secure approval will increase the likelihood that organizations will adopt change. Rushing through these first two steps in order to get to the active part of change is tempting. And it is often one of the reasons the promise of change remains unfulfilled,” she notes.

In the first stage, as you seek to be noticed and heard, you must take time to tell a simple but captivating story, whose importance is clear to all.

Gaining approval requires making the story personal to each constituency. “While every organization has a few ‘formal’ approvers, it also has many informal potential disapprovers,” she says. So work throughout the hierarchy for support.

Setting that groundwork, slowly, you are now more likely to succeed at orchestrating adoption.

2. Top 10 Causes of Leadership Derailment

What causes leaders to fail? A recent survey of top leaders reported in Chief Executive came up with 10 factors:

  • Lack of team orientation: The leader is driven by personal ambitions rather than team success. Or the leader neglects to cultivate a supporting network.
  • Insufficient training/development: The leader may fail to activate the talent at his or her disposal. A commitment to learning is missing, and the leader lacks a formal training process.
  • Ego/arrogance/micro-management: Leadership may be overwhelmed by the ego of the leader, who fails to recognize or reward the team and is more interested in themselves than their reports.
  • No clear strategy or vision: The leader doesn’t develop or execute strategy, or simply lacks business acumen. The leader may also act in ways that conflict with organizational values.
  • Lack of leadership qualities: The leader is incapable of managing such key elements as leading, developing, inspiring and engaging.
  • Inability to change: There is a lack of innovative thinking or a failure to adapt to change.
  • Poor talent selection: The leader hires poorly or aligns people and jobs inappropriately.
  • Lack of trust: Nobody trusts the leader or the leader doesn’t trust others. Integrity and loyalty are absent.
  • Emotional intelligence/self-awareness: The leader is not effective at making hard people decisions.
  • Inability to deliver results: The leader fails at setting priorities, managing time, and delivering on accountabilities.

Do any of these hit close to home? If so, it’s time to deal with those weaknesses before they derail you.

3. Improving Your Marketing Bit By Bit

You should eat a pie one bite at a time, not gobble it down. The same approach will work wonders for your marketing, says consultant Drew McLellan.

On his blog, he suggests looking at everything you have been doing consistently for the past 12 months. Then rank them in effectiveness. If you can’t measure a tactic’s usefulness, put it at the bottom of the list. Whatever tactic is last should be eliminated, with time redirected to more effective approaches.

Supplement that by calling up five former clients who were once strong, steady supporters but have fallen by the wayside. Ask them why they aren’t doing business with you anymore and be prepared to probe a little deeper to reach the truth.

“If you hear the same thing more than twice, consider addressing that issue or missing element. If you resolve that issue somehow, make sure your entire client base and past client base knows about the change,” he advises.

None of that is earth-shattering. But if you haven’t done it recently, perhaps you should give it a shot.

4. Michelin’s Retention Strategy

We all know Michelin for its tires. But the company also has a highly effective employee engagement strategy, with a 97% retention rate.

The key element is a willingness to encourage people to move around frequently in the company, which counters the tendency to quit or become unproductive when they feel stuck or bored in their roles, Business Insider reports.

Employees each have career managers, who begin discussions by asking: What are you really passionate about? “You can’t always satisfy that passion,” says David Stafford, chief human resources officer for North America. “But it’s good to know what they want.”

5. Zingers

  • When negotiating salary, focus on the present. Instead of asking about the individual’s desired remuneration, ask what the current salary is and increase it by roughly 15 per cent. That counters the likelihood the candidate will “over ask” if given an opportunity to state preference, recruiting specialist Ken Sundheim says. (Source: Personal Branding Blog)
  • If you seek to please 90% of your potential customers, all you need to do is the usual thing, advises entrepreneur Seth Godin. To please half the remaining market, he estimates you will need to work at least twice as hard. And for the next half, twice as hard again — which is why organizations that please everyone are so rare. (Source: Seth’s Blog)
  • If you lead others, try issuing fewer orders and asking more questions, advises consultant Art Petty. Aim for a 10:1 ratio — 10 questions for every order. Keep score. (Source: ArtPetty.com)
  • Take a tip from the company that screened candidates for a part-time job, only to have the best person decline their offer after a few days’ consideration, saying she wanted a full-time job. The interviewees had asked, “Are you looking for a part-time job?” Instead, they should have asked, “Why do you want a part-time job?” In this case, it was only because nothing full-time seemed to be available. But for many people, a part-time job is the perfect fit for their life right now. Go after them. (Source: SFGate.com)
  • Blogger Laurie Ruettimann was taken by the closing line in an essay, The Busy Trap, by Tim Kreider: “Life is too short to be busy.” She reminds you that busy is a choice: “Start today. Reclaim your right to five minutes of idleness. Say no to something stupid and say yes to the untapped potential in your life. And maybe stop telling everyone around you that you’re busy. Busy means that you are not in control, and busy-ness undermines your credibility and authority.” (Source: LaurieRuettimann.com)

6: Q&A with 8020Info: Productivity Books Are Hot

Question: What’s hot in business books?

8020Info Associate Harvey Schachter responds:

In our final zinger above, Laurie Ruettimann talks about the busy trap. And today that theme is driving authors and publishers, who are responding with a surprising number of productivity books to lead off the year. Here are some new titles to look for:

  • Deep Work by Cal Newport: A blogger and professor of computer science, he looks at how to set aside time in your life for the deep work that can be so rewarding but difficult to fit into your schedule. Work less and accomplish more with his ideas.
  • Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg: The best-selling author of The Power of Habit turns his attention to eight concepts critical to higher productivity in a book out in March.
  • The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey: The University of Ottawa graduate tested most of the popular ideas for better productivity, and teases out the most effective ones for you.
  • The Daily Edge by David Horsager: Thirty-five tips to increase your efficiency.
  • Organize Tomorrow Today by Jason Selk and Tom Bartow: The two performance coaches offer eight ways to retrain your mind to optimize performance in work and in life.
  • How To Be A Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott: Initially published in Britain, this book by the well-known productivity trainer will be available in Canada in April.

No time to read a book? The promise behind them is that you will gain back considerable time by putting their ideas into action.

And while on the topic of books, the year opened with excellent books by two prominent authors — Dartmouth College Management Professor Sydney Finkelstein’s look at Superbosses, about leaders who draw an inordinate number of leading lights in an industry to work for them, and Wharton School Management Professor Adam Grant’s Originals, on people who move the world with new ideas. Both academics are gifted story-tellers and researchers, resulting in absorbing books.

7. From Our Water Cooler:  Breaking Down Your Value Proposition

A recent incident illuminated for us the strategic importance of knowing differences in what your customers or clients value.

A hair stylist decided to leave the salon downtown where she had worked for more than a decade and made plans to join another operation in mid-town. Calls were made to advise her clientele, letting them know they could either continue with her at the new salon or remain with her former group and have someone else take care of their hair needs. The hope, of course, was that they would all follow her.

Reactions were varied. For instance:

  • In one case, a client decided to stay with the relocating stylist since their warm, trusting relationship provided a type of value that trumped location, look or atmosphere of the salon.
  • Another client loved the staff, personality and designed environment of the downtown salon — she decided to stay and find a new stylist there.
  • Meanwhile, a third found the new location inconvenient (distant from her place of work) and decided to try a new, nearby salon that had good word of mouth on their styling.

In this mini-case, we see that stylist relationships, technical strengths, salon environment and convenience of location all factored into client decisions, but with various types of clients ranking them in different priority when making choices. One stayed with the stylist, one stayed with the salon, and one chose a third alternative (a new stylist in a different but conveniently located salon).

The lesson: When you make a major, strategic change in how you offer value to the market, carefully consider and manage all the individual elements that may have a significant impact on your business. How are they intertwined? Which pieces, if any, are pivotal for core clients? Are you overestimating your customers’ loyalty? What might you do to ease the transition and retain your client base at a time when they are most likely to leave?