Category Archives: strategic thinking

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

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

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

Why

Successful people Communicationknow and communicate the “WHY” of their work…we all should

My lifelong dreamwas to run a successful business that I could be proud of. When I started GlobalEdg in 2006, I felt it was important to clearly communicate what our firm did. We were an unknown startup; it was important for potential clients to understand our capabilities. We invested time and money in our website, created a product and service brochure, drafted presentations, designed flyers and much more—whatever we felt would help. It was what was needed at the time and it served us well. I became pretty good at answering the question, “What does your firm do?” I still believe that it is important to concisely describe what you do and how you are different from your competitors.

Over the years we have continued to grow our capabilities; we have had the privilege to work with some of the best organizations in the world. Today, almost all of our new business comes from referrals. For any consulting firm that is where you want to be. Today we now feel a responsibility to articulate who we are and what we do in a more complete way.

Each year we conduct a strategic review of our business. This being our 10th year we thought it was especially important to update our messaging on “what we do.” During a planning session, we found ourselves having an important conversation about what we “really” do and “what we are known for.” Yet it was different this time, the discussions shifted in a way that we found very powerful and extremely rewarding. A significant amount of time was invested into answering the “why.” In other words, why was our work important? How were we making a difference with the work we were doing? Why was it important work?

We know that our work is meaningful—we do make a difference in how leaders run their organizations. We knew how to articulate the “what we do”—but we finished with defining why our work makes a difference. GlobalEdg is an organization that I am proud of—I am living the dream.

Dig deep…ask and answer why your work is important!

For more information, visit our website, www.globaledg.com

Structure Creates Freedom

Decision Making with Confidencemountain_peak_summit_person_arms_silhouette_2

For more than 25 years I have been working with leaders—observing and studying what makes the successful ones different from the ones who fail. One area that I have confidence in really differentiating success is the ability to AUTOMATICALLY think strategically. To quickly take in, process, and act on what is most important.

We all have information coming at us from innumerable directions. Decisions must be made quickly, yet no less carefully than they have in the past. How is this achievable? Structure. Our STAR Model (Strategic Thinking Action Results™) is a disciplined way to think. It allows leaders to quickly screen and then focus on what is most important. It is structure. It creates the freedom to know your decisions are made with confidence. STAR is a tried and true method. In fact, our research has shown that employees self-report a 99 percent increase in their ability to focus on the vital few and being able to streamline from many to a few key issues after the appropriate training.

You may not always bat a thousand in your decision making—no one does—yet our experience leads us to believe that you can better your chances when you follow a structured, proven approach. Ask yourself:

  • What am I trying to solve for?
  • What do I know to be true—the facts only.
  • What can I conclude that is obvious?
  • What are my best options?
  • What is my decision?

Once made, declare your decision—in writing if possible. Doing so makes it obvious to others. There is nothing worse than making an important decision and no one knowing about it.

For more information, visit our website, www.globaledg.com

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The Fifth Beatle: A Lesson in Leadership and Unleashing the Power of Talent

I was struck by an article in a recent issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. It was about George Martin, the legendary producer of the Beatles.  What really registered with me was how he was able to uniquely harness the collective talent of four individuals to co-create music that would change the world.  Martin was able to see potential in a way others couldn’t.  He specifically ……

  • Challenged them by suggesting the possibility
  • Held to his standard of excellence
  • Tapped into available talent to get the right person at the right time (Ringo replacing Peter Beck)
  • Identified how to maximize individual talent while simultaneously creating the space for others to contribute.

George Martin just passed away at age 90 — but his talent development legacy lines on. Enjoy the read!

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/beatles-producer-george-martin-dead-at-90-20160309

Blog Article

Leadership Behavior: the Stress of Self-doubt. A Wall Street Journal article

Earlier in my career, I was going through a really stressful time, my position was being eliminated, I was finishing graduate school; and, as young father with 3 small kids, my primary concern was how to stay positive and not become overwhelmed.  That was when I was introduced to Martin Seligman’s work at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a pioneer in the field of positive psychology. What I learned was that the way you think can make a difference in how you feel which ultimately leads to how you make decisions.  All leaders will face adversity – what is most important is how he or she reacts. It begins with how you think. We have worked hard over the years to emphasize how best to channel ideas into insights to solve problems. Our work has been informed by people who have overcome difficult challenges. I find the subject of how thoughts impact us fascinating.  I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal that might be helpful on how you think. Enjoy

http://www.wsj.com/articles/steps-to-turn-off-the-nagging-self-doubt-in-your-head-1465838679?mod=djem10point

GlobalEdg Leadership Diary #3 — Your Competitive Advantage — What makes you standout & win?

winningA few years ago my brother and our wives were vacationing at a resort in Florida. On our second night there, we were sitting on the balcony of our room enjoying the warm weather and the incredible view of the Ocean. Shortly we noticed a steady stream of people heading to the poolside patio … dressed in business casual attire – each wearing a nametag. They were headed to a corporate company cocktail party.   As we looked on with curiosity, we began noticing a similar pattern. As people were getting closer to the patio they seemed to behave in a similar way — hand to the head to make sure their hair was in place, as well as a quick glance down at their nametag to see if it was visible and not upside down. There were even similar facial expressions – eyes darting around and a slight smile (either excitement or nervous laughter). Even the pace of walking began to change and each seemed to pick up as they were closer to the party. While observing, my brother and I found ourselves talking about how similar we often found ourselves behaving – preparing to make the right impression. We were putting on our “game face” at such corporate events.

The game? how to stand out and win…with the people we work with/for. The cocktail party illustration can be a small example of how we try to differentiate ourselves at work. Obviously the real way to stand out is with the contributions you make to your organization.

Winning is defined in different ways by each of us; however, we only win when we are able to realize we all have unique gifts that allow us to differentiate ourselves from others in our chosen professions … we all have a unique way of delivering value — competitive advantage in one way or another. The question remains how do we know what it is. In our book Think to Win, we outline how both teams and individuals can address this. The process is simple yet compelling – a few questions can serve as criteria — Consider the following:

  • What really differentiates us?
  • Is it something no one else could say about themselves?
  • What is the source of this?
  • How do we sustain it?

Using the tools of business are important and applicable to us personally. What differentiates you? How are you leveraging it? We all have unique gifts and ultimately stand out at any cocktail party.

To gain insight on how Thinking to Win can help your business and life at http://www.thinktowin.net/.