Close your mind! avoid these questions!

questions.answers

We are often automatic with how we think –not always open-minded. That is because we don’t ask ourselves or others the important questions. Opening your mind with “opened-ended questions that cannot be answered with a yes or is a necessity for growth. It starts with an exploration of what you might be taking for granted. When you do this, you begin to delayer things and get to the truth.

• Why did we see the need for this decision in the past?
• What if we do things differently?
• What if our biggest competitor were in this room; what would he or she say about us?
• What if we re-imagine things radically? What if we create a new market segment?
• What if I owned this business? What would I do differently?

Source: Think To Win: Unleashing the Power of Strategic Thinking

Wisdom — Who Do You Go With?

We can probably count the “true people” who are confident in sharing everything they know –who will help others with the assurance that he or she expects nothing in return. How fortunate are we to meet individuals who are truly giving! Is there anyone who comes to mind?
I have, and many others who have been fortunate to come across his path also have someone in mind! – his name is Peter Klein. I first met Peter in the spring of 2001 while working at Gillette. He was an officer of the company who was an important part of Gillette’s turnaround story. As a trusted advisor and confidant to many of us, he was the “go to guy” when you needed help thinking through an issue. There were no title constraints or turf issues as he was genuinely concerned about doing the right thing for the business and the people in the organization.
After I left P&G in 2006 to start my company, I again turned to Peter for help. His guidance in how to start and grow a consulting practice was invaluable. I also really learned not to take myself so seriously as his sense of humor helped ground me. I owe much of my success to his support.
I grew to know him even better between 2010-2015 when he collaborated with myself and John Manfredi on our book Think-to-Win. His library of content, insights and experience in business were invaluable. Through Peter, we could reach some of those most successful leaders in organizations and tap into their minds. It was remarkable how people were willing to share their stores with us. Most likely because Peter had been part of them.
Peter has a saying “with whom you go is more important than where you go.” I am lucky that I have been able to go with Peter for these last 15 years!
To learn more about Peter and see his wisdom and humor on display, go to www.pkassoc.com and also see the 2015 interview conducted by Gary Vaynerchuck, founder of VaynerMedia and a digital/social media icon. It was tweeted to over a million people and viewed by thousands more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yjwe3K89ENs

Reach Paul Butler at Pbutler@globaledg.com

Hurricane Harvey – Everyday heroes collaborating to save lives

Evacuees_Sun_night_MS_TT (1)

The destruction caused by Hurricane Zachary is staggering.  I cannot begin to comprehend what people must be going through. Amongst this devastation we should not forget the victims and their families. Please consider donating to a charity such as the Red Cross www.redcross.com

In the midst of this tragedy, we should give a shout-out and recognize those everyday heroes. There are hundreds of stories of how rescue workers and volunteers worked together to save lives. What we should pay close attention to is how they did it — AUTOMATIC COLLOBATION!  First, they did not let “stuff” get in the way. Regardless of job title, race, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation everyone could contribute. Secondly, they quickly assessed where help was needed and only used the tools and resources that were at hand. The result was saving thousands of people and getting them to a safe place.

We can all learn from this. While we might no be saving lives, we could be changing them.

 

What the hell does “I have to go to work” mean?

ATT00015 pexels-photo-510391Who among us has walked around on a Sunday night with that “pit in our stomach” feeling? Last weekend I was having this very conversation with two close friends; both professionals, one a lawyer and the other a schoolteacher. They both expressed to me they were feeling a little blue and continued to explain they were “dreading” going to work the next day. The whole conversation centered on why they were feeling this way on a Sunday night and why the anticipation of starting a new workweek stressed out so many people. Maybe it’s how our culture talks about and defines “work” today. Does any of this sound familiar…

· Are you still at “work”?

· How many hours did you “work” this week?

· Unfortunately, I must “work” this weekend.

· I have been working too hard lately.

You can add to the list!

One definition even defines work as “an exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.”

As our conversation continued, we shifted from the when and how, to the “why” of work. That’s when the conversation became more meaningful allowing us to look at “work” in a different way. In their book, The Why of Work, David and Wendy Ulrich refer to the “Why “ as the human search for meaning that finds its way to our office and factories; a search that motivates, inspires, and defines us. George Washington University professor Neal Chalofsky also writes in his book , Meaningful Workplaces, that learning is the most critical human function to reaching your purpose and potential. Learning new skills and applying them in some way allows you to raise the bar for yourself and others.

As my friends and I concluded our conversation, we agreed to adopt a better way of thinking about work; more as a meaning maker rather than as a laborer. I suggested they capture, declare and write down how their work provides meaning and refer to it on the Sunday nights when they were feeling that “pit” in their stomach.

This past Sunday, I also took time to reflect on the “why” of my work, and in doing so, found myself really looking forward to the week. I was coming off an intense facilitation of an executive retreat, one where the group was wrestling with the future of the company. The session I facilitated provided them with an opportunity to shape the future of their organization; building a new kind of company where they help saves lives and attract the best people to join and stay with the company. It was a privilege to be there working with these executives. I learned, I was inspired, and I was making a difference! It reinforced “why” I love the “work” I do.

Every time I learn something that makes me a better coach and leader it brings more meaning and purpose to my “work”, so much so, I don’t think about it as “work” anymore, but as a chance to learn and grow and be part of something that is truly making a positive difference in peoples lives.

Whether you are on an assembly line or working in a corner office, try to remember, going to “work” really does make a difference in someone’s life; it does have meaning. Write down your “why” and continue to shape it as you grow and learn. Only then can you know “what the hell going to work means!”

Burned-out or Bored-out

Knowing the difference will change your life!

Try this on and seeNew Life Old Life if it fits. Do you have a hard time focusing—or are you putting less energy into focusing? How about: Trouble sleeping? Decreased motivation? Tired more often than feeling rested? Do you feel that there are just too many things for you to get done—no matter how long or hard you work—you never seem to get ahead?

Symptoms of burn-out include a dysfunctional attitude towards work, feeling less motivated, and a general apathy towards the job as a whole.

I have worked with too many senior leaders over the years to not recognize it: burn-out. Unfortunately, it has defined many leaders over the years, and I have seen enough successes and failures to know that this is a real problem.

It is only recently that my thinking around this began to expand and I noticed something very important:  Many people who experienced these symptoms were NOT burned-out, they were actually bored-out. Somewhere along the way (I have noticed) people often hit a wall. It is then, at that point of deep reflection when they ask themselves, “Can I do this any longer?” I especially see this when an individual crosses that threshold of where they have created something that they then have to manage on a day-to-day basis. Boredom invariably follows.

This theory was first expounded in 2007, in Diagnose Boreout, a book by Philippe Rothlin and Peter R. Werder. They found that the absence of meaningful work is for many individuals the chief problem.

Boredom expert Dr. Sandi Mann says workplace boredom is a growing problem and a “significant source of stress” for many people.

On the flip-side, when people find themselves in a new role, or new job—working just as hard and as long—the symptoms start to subside! What gives?! My guess is that they were suffering from being bored-out. I now see it and I am able to name it. And, it has made a tremendous difference in how I work with executives and leadership teams.

Last week I floated this idea to a c-level networking group. It resonated right away! When does experience become a burden? We all want opportunities for new learning, continued professional and personal growth, and knowing that we are making a difference. When we feel this does not exist in our current situation we no longer feel challenged, and therefore miss the opportunity to be our best self at work. Surprisingly, it usually happens after a major success has taken place.

Here are four suggestions to identify and defeat a bored-out situation:

  1. Challenge your assumptions. Being open minded can help to determine what is really happening here. As clearly as you can, write down in one or two sentences what you believe the big issue is. The purpose is to identify and articulate what you are trying to solve.
  2. Create a list of wins and what you felt most excited about and challenged by at work. Did you deliver a big win that made a difference for your organization? Or, was it something outside of work that was impacted?
  3. What are the TWO things you are most passionate about? It doesn’t have to be just one thing! Now, can you combine them to create something new in your life? Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most passionate CEOs I have come across. In motivating business people today, he nails it for me. Check out his blog post: https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/askgaryvee-episode-113-do-you-have-to-choose-between-two-passions/
  4. Now, declare it! Admit you are bored and you need a new challenge. It is time to pivot. Pick a mentor or close friend to hold you accountable and to help facilitate creating your own personal growth plan. This plan should have three important elements: The Situation, The Action, The Impact.

Address bored-out and grow that list of wins!

The ONE Question All Winners Must Answer

Runners Running Competition Race Winning

I am a runner…well, sort of. I do belong to a couple of running clubs; one meets on Saturday morning and the other on Thursday nights. On Saturday mornings we run races and eat big breakfasts with lots of coffee. On Thursday nights we run, eat big dinners and sample lots of beer.

It was at one of those Thursday night gatherings back in April of 2008, that I informed the group that I had signed up to run my first marathon: The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., that would take place in October of that year.

Someone joked, “You can probably win!”

Well, she was right. I could win if I first answered this important question, “How would I defining winning for me?” So, considering my age, ability, and time available to train I set 3 goals for myself:

  1. Finish the race…all 26.2 miles
  2. Complete the race in around 4 ½ hours
  3. Have Fun

I knew it would not be easy. I had only just participated in and finished my first half-marathon a few weeks earlier. The thought of running twice as far was a little overwhelming, but I believed I could WIN.

With some help, I created a rigorous training schedule. By September, I felt it would go well, and as it turned out—I WON! I finished the marathon, my time was 4h 40min and (looking back now) it was fun.

The Big IDEA: You must define ‘winning’ in and on your own terms! In your life, both personal and professional, defining winning on your own terms is the key to success.

CASE STUDY

At one of my clients, a new VP of sales inherited an organization where they had missed an assigned quota 8 quarters in a row. The former GM had set and communicated unattainable goals by consistently promising to deliver on double-digit sales growth in a declining market. It required that the organization invest in areas that they could not win. The results dragged on the business, created bad decision making, and lowered morale. No wonder the business was failing.

This new VP was not yet confident in changing the goal—with the assumption being—everyone from the president on up had supported a double-digit increase. When the next quarter came up short, he knew they could not WIN by staying the course. After doing his homework—he recommend a different path—growing at 3% would be considered a win in this market. Once he presented it, he was pleasantly surprised that the senior leaders agreed with him; as he was able show a different path to growth.

He communicated the targets more realistically and redefined the expectations of a win. With better planning and focus on more realistic decisions, resources were reallocated to the right place, morale grew, and the business began to thrive.

Think about a major challenge you are facing, now or in the near future, personal or professional, and answer: How do I define winning?

Believe this Myth and Never Unlock Your Value

One persistent myth about the strategic thinking process: it is long and cumbersome. Even if that were true in the past, it’s not so now. More importantly, it should not be! Strategic thinking is not “protracted thinking”—the kind that eventually coughs up a 500-page, door-stop-style plan that is shelved upon completion. If learned correctly, strategic thinking helps to create plans that are living documents—guiding decision-making on a daily basis. Strategic thinking becomes real, actionable, and accessible. Done collectively it is the kind of thinking that quickly galvanizes individuals, companies, and other organizations to produce positive results. Try it—answer these questions for yourself or your team—see what happens!

Source: Think to Win, McGraw-Hill, 2015

Unlock and Unleash to Add Value

How small is your world?

viewAlthough I have an office in town, I often intentionally don’t go directly to “work” every day. I have developed a practice of occasionally finding a place to have a coffee and that allows me to do some reading, reflecting, and writing. Today is one of those days. I pulled into the local Starbucks, ordered a coffee, and found a quiet place in the corner to read a new book.

A few weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with Joseph Jaworski, one of the world’s best authorities on leadership. Jaworski has dedicated his life to building the capability of leaders for the betterment of organizations, as well as society in general. While we discussed a variety of topics, it is his work on innovation that interested me most. I told Joseph that I had ordered his book, Source: The Inner Path of Knowledge Creation, and was really looking forward to diving into it. The book is his story of experiences with scientists, physicists, artists, entrepreneurs, and spiritual leaders on finding their sources for creativity and purpose.

This morning, this was the book I was reading. In the chapter, “The release of limited belief systems” – something really jumped out at me:

“Over the years, my worldview has shifted. I had released my limiting belief systems, which has been inculcated in me over a lifetime, and discovered that a profound shift had occurred in my metaphysics – my philosophy of being and knowing.”

He goes on to write, “…many leaders operate under obsolete assumptions and inner mental models of which they may no longer be aware. These limiting belief systems inhibits leaders at all levels from pursuing and discovering novel opportunities. The result is repeated strategic failure even in enterprises that are exceedingly run well.”

Since we founded our company 10 years ago, the world has changed in ways that are breathtaking. Throughout this period, I have seen and have experienced people doing remarkable things in their organizations. We have worked with thousands of people at all levels in over 50 different organizations. They have taught me to challenge my own assumptions about how great companies work—people who think about possibilities: big not small thinkers—making a difference in the place they work and for the customers they serve. Because of this we have been able to pivot, grow, and innovate to better deliver the value clients deserve.

When I limit my belief system and don’t pursue new and different ways of being, my world gets much smaller—and less personal and professional growth occurs. This happens when I fall into that trap of over activity that we all often find ourselves in. We need to be reminded to step back and see how we are growing and learning. I suggest selecting a special space where you can stretch your own thinking. Ask yourself, “How have my views have changed over time? Who influenced me in a positive way? How did they help my world get bigger? Where can I focus my attention to help me learn and expand my own world view?” And finally, “How can I use what I have learned to make a difference in the world?”

www.globaledg.com

Unleashing the Power

A Channel to Innovation

power-training-barbell-muscles-hands-39613A few years back I was called in to work with a new Product Development team that had been experiencing several setbacks and delays. The cause being new technology; an important part of the firm’s overall growth strategy. It was designed to fill a gap that existed in the new product pipeline. I spent a few days with the marketing executive who was leading the team. He suggested that I spend some time with individual team members before meeting with the collective team. After initial conversations, I called the leader and said, “This team has a group of experts who do all of the things a high-performing team can or should do, except knowing how to think collectively and dialogue appropriately in a way that provides true breakthrough.”

We agreed as a team that an intervention—a new approach—was needed as they couldn’t get to a new product launch—literally stuck on a situation for over 6 months, and the organization was bleeding dollars.

In one of the most inspiring leadership books, Synchronicity: The Inner Path to Leadership, renowned author, Joseph Jaworski, writes ….

If people were to think together in a coherent way, it would have tremendous power. If there was an opportunity for sustained dialogue over a period of time, we would have a coherent movement of thought, not only at the conscious level we all recognize, but even more importantly at the tacit unspoken level which cannot be described. Dialogue does not require people to agree with each other, instead it encourages people to participant in a pool of shared meaning that leads to aligned action.”

One of our (GlobalEdg’s) core principles of Strategic Thinking is creating/developing the ability to openly dialogue and challenge underlying assumptions. And, being able to do this in a way that allows people to be heard and empowered to find solutions. Learning to effectively Challenge Assumptions is defined in Think to Win: Unleashing the Power of Strategic Thinking by Butler, Manfredi, Klein. An excerpt from the book:

“Having an open mind is a necessity. It starts with an exploration of what you might be taking for granted. Peel away any built-up layers of assumptions by asking how they came to be accepted, and envisioning what would happen if they were not.

Begin by asking the “What If” and “Why” questions:

  • Why did we see the need for this decision in the past?
  • What if we do things differently?
  • What if our biggest competitor were in this room; what would he or she say about us?
  • What if we re-imagine things radically? What if we create a new market segment?
  • What if I owned this business? What would I do differently?”

By applying the Think to Win strategies, the team began to master the ability to dialogue more effectively, they learned to collectively think and produce results. This allowed for accountability and cross-functional collaboration in a different, more authentic way. The results—the team accelerated its work and delivered the new product to market ahead of schedule. That product is still in the market today and doing well. Just as important, the organization gained and replicated this capability with future product launch teams.

 

Paul Butler

President, GlobalEdg

Think to Win Cover web

Tread Lightly

slip-up-danger-careless-slipperyIndividual Development Plans Can Sabotage Team Effectiveness

It is hard to believe that I once bought into the theory that we hire people for what they can contribute to the organization, and then we build their initial development plans looking not only at strengths, but shortly thereafter begin to focus on weaknesses or areas of opportunity for growth. Like we can change them before the year has even passed? The danger lies in thinking that we want to.

We all have strengths. They are what we strive to bring forward in ourselves. We want to be successful and add value. As Markus Buckingham, noted author and expert on “Strengths” indicates, “—your particular combination of strengths—is deeply a part of who you are.”

We have a great model of this in our recent Olympic history. Michael Phelps, who ended his record-breaking careerwith 23 gold medals, is an example of the power of focus on strength. Easy? No. Over the years Phelps has struggled both in and out of the pool. Finding his resolve, he was always able to return to what he does best…swim. To train, to improve, to grow stronger in what he excels at. Not switch sports, no change of direction or retooling of what was already strong within him. As a team member, Phelps brings this talent and winning strategy to the medley relay events. He is a powerful part of a powerful team; each having honed strengths…for one it is the butterfly, for another it is the backstroke. None would be expected to swim the part that was not their strongest.

As a leader, how can you get started leveraging your team’s strengths? First of all, you need to change your mindset. Focus onwhat potential or existing members can bring to the game (business, operations, etc.). Then try the following:

  1. Go back to your own assessments. You have probably taken many instruments that measure preferences, style, and competence assessments. Now, focus solely on what you did well. Then ask yourself how much that helped serve you.
  2. Think about the BEST team you were ever part of:
    • How did you uniquely contribute?
    • How did others uniquely contribute, in the ways you could not?
  3. Seeing the unique capabilities in others helps identify how to leverage those talents to benefit the whole team. If you don’t do this, as a leader of a team, you will tend to dominate with your strengths. That might be helpful in many situations, but certainly not all.

How can you make a difference in where you play and how you win? “As Buckingham says, “your Strengths can be put to good use, or they can be put to bad use.”

The choice is yours.