September 28, 2022




In this 8020Info Water Cooler we go from funnels to flywheels to neuroscience, from optics to decision rights through to six leadership dimensions and how to use meetings to develop your team. Enjoy!

1. From Funnels to Flywheels

Adding customers and clients has traditionally been best described by the model of a sales funnel.

The notion is that many people enter the wide lip of the funnel — awareness of your organization, product or service — and over time progress through stages like consideration, evaluation,  signing on and making a purchase.

Columbia Business School Professor Rita McGrath says that model highlighted the importance of building awareness. It also allowed some calculation of how many customers you might have in future depending on how many recently entered the funnel and the normal rate of conversion to a sale.

But in a digital world, she argues, we need to rethink that assumption since both getting information and making comparisons between various offerings is radically different.

“The relationship between buyers and sellers began to resemble a continuous flow of interactions. In many modern models, the sale isn’t even the end of the process — it’s somewhere in the middle,” she writes in her newsletter.

She thinks a better model is a flywheel, a virtual circle of dealings with prospects and customers, one action leading inevitably to each of the other steps, over and over again.

Popularized by Good to Great author Jim Collins (see Water Cooler 305), the idea is that additional force applied to any part of the model creates multiplicative effects throughout the business.

“Eventually the flywheel takes on momentum of its own and begins to turn without any particular effort from you,” McGrath writes. “So much for the sales funnel. Bring on the flywheel!”

2. Neuroscience Lessons to Incorporate into Life

Writer Charlotte Grysolle listened to five hours of a podcast between neuroscientist Andrew Huberman and ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink, and shared these lessons:

  • Deliberate Decompression: Try 10 to 30 minutes of decompression every day, especially after deep work or intense learning. Avoid any sensory input, including meditation, which requires focus and effort. Just sit still or lie down and close your eyes. “You might fall asleep, and that’s fine, but even if you don’t, you’re still resetting your nervous system by relaxing the sensory system,” she writes in Better Humans.
  • Negative Visualizations: Don’t rely just on positive visualizations, since often they become fantasies we don’t act on. Consider the negative consequences of doing X or not doing X, and write them down. This can emotionally push you to take action.
  • Morning Sunlight: Go outside for 10 to 30 minutes, as close to waking up as possible. Bright light — ideally natural sunlight — triggers a sequence of hormone releases in your body that will help you through the day. Don’t wear sunglasses.
  • Reframe friction: Learn to think about friction like a Navy Seal: Friction = Discomfort = Growth = Good. “It’s a simple mental shift,” she says.
  • Random intermittent rewards: Train yourself to see the work and the learning you do as its own reward. But reward yourself once in a while, randomly, to boost dopamine, which helps you to feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation.

3. Include Leadership Development in Meetings

Successful leaders develop leaders. And it can happen naturally, as a regular part of your team meetings, executive coach Dan Rockwell explains on his blog.

Start by identifying the top two or three strengths of everyone on your team. Then schedule the team members – one at a time, over upcoming meetings – to talk briefly about a strength to help others improve.

He gives as an example Mary, who is adept at encouraging others.

  • She would take three minutes at the meeting to kick off a discussion on encouraging, perhaps talking about the mindset of an encourager and what makes encouraging important to her.
  • She also should suggest three behaviours that express encouragement.
  • Allow time for questions, and then ask each team member to choose one behaviour they will intentionally practice before the next team meeting.
  • Have one or two report at the next meeting, to keep them accountable.

He calls it a free, 10-minute leadership development program.

4. It’s the Decision, Not the Optics that Counts

Optics —how people view your actions and policies— are important. But consultant Kevin Eikenberry warns not to get overly preoccupied with them.

“People’s perceptions of a decision matter. But if we worry about that more than the decision itself, we may make unwise decisions,” he writes on his blog.

Have you included the right people? Did you look at all the implications? Gather the right data? Consider enough possibilities? Is your intention around the decision in the best interest of the stakeholders or interested parties? Does it match the values and culture of the organization?

Worry less about optics and more about your actions themselves.

5. Zingers

  • Beyond Comfort Zones: Move out of your comfort zone. The more people see you’re out of your comfort zone, the more they’ll be encouraged to get out of their own comfort zones. That can lead to innovation and growth, says Charlene Li, chief research officer at PA Consulting. (Source:  LinkedIn).
  • No Mistakes in the Message: Advertising expert Roy H. Williams says he has never seen a business fail due to reaching the wrong people. Businesses can fail because they say the wrong thing. You need the capacity to write strong ads and other promotional material. (Source:  Monday Morning Memo).
  • Hybrid Advice: Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford economics professor who studied remote and hybrid work arrangements for years before the pandemic, says the biggest mistake is ceding full control over choice of days to employees. Employees, when they come in, want to see their coworkers, and managers must organize that effectively. (Source:  CharterWorks).
  • Make Appreciation Clear: In her research, leadership consultant Liz Wiseman says, she has been struck by the number of managers who admit that they’ve never communicated to the people who work for them what they most and least appreciate about what they do. One tip: When someone does something to make your work easier, say, “When you do X, it’s easier for me to do Y.” (Source:  strategy + business).
  • Why Win? The odds are that the latest office debate isn’t worth winning, says author James Clear. Most arguments are only tangentially related to your end goal. (Source:  JamesClear.com).

6. The List: Six Dimensions of Leadership

In The Six Dimensions of Leadership, author Andrew Brown said that to be successful, leaders must be consummate actors, convincing heroes, brokers of shared power, self-confident immortalists, effective ambassadors, and willing victims. Here is his list:

  • Leaders as Heroes: Heroes are characters with whom others naturally identify, and that diminishes the anxiety, fears and loneliness of followers. They make success seem attainable and symbolize organizational culture.
  • Leaders as Actors: Managing and leading are performance arts that must hold the attention of the workplace audience. Leaders act as poets, rhetoricians, storytellers and masters of showmanship.
  • Leaders as Immortalists: Immortals stand as visionary beacons of confidence for their followers. They embody the vision, whether as rebels or virtuosos, imprinting their ideas and personalities on the organization.
  • Leaders as Power Brokers: Whether they are despots, manipulators, conductors or leaders who empower, they accomplish goals by mobilizing and directing the energies of others, coaxing, cajoling, and reconciling differences.
  • Leaders as Ambassadors: They build external relationships, make deals, forge empathetic relationships with employees and, being highly sensitive to their environment, absorb significant amounts of information.
  • Leaders as Victims: In this role, and with confidence, they take the blame even when they aren’t directly responsible for the problem. It shows the organization how to learn from mistakes or take criticism and keep moving on.


7.  Around Our Water Cooler


DARE may be better than RACI

How do you manage all the roles and inputs in making a decision?

Some of our clients like to clarify decision rights using the RACI model, an acronym for four roles stakeholders play in decision-making — those who are Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.

But McKinsey & Company says there are difficulties with that model in practice — they see problems with a lack of clarity about who is making the decision, poor delegation, weak coordination of stakeholders, and ineffective management of decision meetings.

They propose their own alternative framework for stakeholders involved in the decision process:

  • Deciders: They make the decisions — they have the vote(s) but need to determine whether and how the roles of others will be included.
  • Advisors: They have a voice in the discussion and influence the decision, often by virtue of their special relationships or expertise (but can delay decisions by asking for ever more data, analysis and discussion).
  • Recommenders: They explore and identify multiple alternative options, conduct analyses, and illuminate and/or encourage debate of the pros and cons.
  • Execution stakeholders: They carry out the decisions, so they must be kept informed. They often ask clarifying questions or spot challenges when the decision is being made.

While counterintuitive, McKinsey says it can be helpful to involve more people in making a decision — but only when roles are clearly articulated. They sum up their advice: Give more people a voice, but fewer people a vote.


What We’re Reading:

  • Harvey’s Pick: Getting Along by Amy Gallo is the most sensible book I’ve seen on dealing with jerks and other difficult people. She admits her advice may not work and urges you to keep your goals for improving the situation realistic. The eight types of difficult people she focuses on includes ones we are likely to encounter and her nine overall principles for getting along with anyone are very helpful.
  • Rob’s Pick: This breakthrough classic came to mind recently in discussions with clients:  Information Anxiety by Richard Saul Wurman. Famous for how he reorganized the San Francisco Yellow Pages, Wurman brings the lens of a designer and architect to the problem of how best to sort and organize information. He shares a useful framework with the five main methods for structuring content, and we have often quoted his advice on how to give directions. He helps us bridge the black hole between data and knowledge.


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8020Info helps senior leadership teams and boards develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support strategic planning and change processes, marketing communications and research / stakeholder consultations. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.

8.  Closing Thought

“The greatest pleasure is obtained by improving.”

Ben Hogan, legendary golfer