When I started GlobalEdg in 2006, one of my long-term goals was to continue to teach and coach leaders on how to think strategically, solve problems quickly and build that capability into their organizations. I underestimated how our approach and tools were really going to help make a difference. Not only were we building critical leadership skills, we were helping leaders knock down barriers and drive a culture where innovation could flourish!
What we have been finding
We consistently come across (no matter how large the organization) 6 common roadblocks:
- Functional (Siloed) thinking, multiple sub-cultures, and lack of focus make it difficult to “talk to each other” particularly on strategic issues.
- Resources are wasted in trying to get “people on the same page”
- There is a lack of clarity around what people are really trying to solve for
- Open to new ways of thinking “We have always done it here this way” honest assumptions are not challenged in a non-threatening way –
- People are never really empowered because they have not been trained on a common approach on how to solve problems
- They focus on the right answers versus the most important questions.
The Implication — Less alignment, focus and slow uninformed decision making
Innovation stalls because people tend to approach problems in different ways … with different disciplines… and even used different descriptors and languages. These multiple and divergent approaches to problem-solving aren’t unusual.
So, what can you do?
- Assess current strategic thinking and alignment capability. What is the information telling you?
- Implement a proven, systematic, strategic thinking process for analyzing and implementing business opportunities
- Train cross-functionally as people learn from each other and can practice using the process to demonstrate proficiency
- Use a common toolkit which allows you to begin applying the process to a real-life business opportunity/challenge
- Utilize a shared strategic communications framework for written analysis and “presentations”
- Use senior leaders as faculty and coaches
*Behavior does change as our research shows improvement in the three key areas:
- Focus: a 90% increase in the ability to focus on the most important issues
- Decision Making: 53% increase in fact- based decision making
- Alignment: Increase in alignment of project plans to strategies by 68%
In the last 10+ years our — STAR (Strategic Thinking – Action – Results) alumni have grown to over 3,000 people. Many have gone on to build great brands, turn around failing business or launch successful startups. They have applied the learning and scored incredible wins.
For more information about diagnostics and bringing the capability into your organization, including certification programs –please contact me directly at email@example.com
*Source: Think-to-Win Unleashing the Power of Strategic Thinking, McGraw-Hill 2015 http://www.thinktowin.net/book.html
Whoever takes the White House is going to face a country in transition. Here’s what the experts want POTUS to know on Day 1.
Shift the Tone – Our country needs leadership – and it needs to come from the top on day one. You need to shift the way people think about how Washington works. It is not all about “executive orders” or what you are going to “tear up.” It is about changing the America Psyche. Set a new tone with the American people —- let them know that there “is” a solution to every problem … and the best way to solve them is collectively with those who have strong differences. It is about relationships and not just rules. Think about the relationship that Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill had. There was a mutual respect and they genuinely liked each other. Reagan and O’Neal were able to find common ground even though they philosophically were polar opposites. Many credit them with saving Social Security. As the President, your words and actions mean much more than they did after the November Election. During your first official day in office, bring the leaders from both parties together and announce that you will be hosting a Camp David Summit. Why Camp David? For decades it has been a place to bring world leaders together to build broken relationship and address the most important problems. Couldn’t leaders from both our parties use that? With the desire to change the tone, I would suggest a theme – How Good Can America Be? The purpose would be to outline an agenda and jump-start an important Leadership conversation around clearly identifying what has given the U.S. a competitive advantage in the world; and, more importantly how we sustain that for the years to come. Not only would this be symbolic, it would show leadership and action.
Paul V. Butler President, GlobalEdg and Co-Author of Think-to-WinUnleashing the Power of Strategic Thinking
Are you a soon-to-be college graduate thinking about looking for your first professional job and feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Candace when she started her job search discovered in Think To Win (TTW) her business class textbook a process that saved her time and helped her to be realistic about her choices. In addition it explained how to evaluate herself as a prospective employee and evaluate the threats and opportunities in the job market.
Candace researched the job market and found prospects not as bleak as she had imagined. She realistically looked at the geographic area for her job search and found opportunities existed in NYC and Boston two of her first choice cities.
An honest self-evaluation of the skills she possesses and the ones she needs to improve have further sharpened her career focus. She is aware of the competition but as a young creative person with strong social media skills she is confident she can make an impression.
Candace wants a position with an organization where she can learn and grow as a person and a professional. What’s next for Candace is to network her personal and professional contacts and look for employment opportunities. She plans to keep TTW handy as she navigates the strategic process for her first professional job and future endeavors.
Now ask yourself:
Do you know how to position yourself in the job market, based on your strengths, and weaknesses?
Have you taken into consideration the people you know and how they could help you?
What will you specifically do? Who can help you? When will it be done?
For more visit:
As a college senior can you list the abilities you have that will make you a stand out candidate in a competitive professional marketplace? As explained in my last post, Candace is ready to examine her abilities as well as the job market opportunities following the suggestions she found in Think To Win. An honest evaluation of both her personal abilities and the employment environment will help her to narrow the type of position that fits her needs.
Candace’s wants to find an entry level position where she can learn and advance personally and professionally. Her research shows that her BA in Communications along with her social medial expertise positions her within a wide range of today’s businesses and organizations. Her strong interpersonal communication skills have made her confident in networking and leaving a strong on and offline presence. Her recent internship has helped build a resume displaying her relevant experience and it has enhanced her professional connections.
Granted, Candace knows she has some weak areas to work on like her public speaking stage fright and her need to be a perfectionist. She knows she can improve on these over time. To start, she plans to take a public speaking class which will help with her speech nerves.
Examining the opportunities in the marketplace Candace finds her advantages include her expertise in social media and the growing opportunity for young creative minds in the workplace. As Boomers retire and Gen Xers move up, entry level positions for Millennials seem to be opening up. While Candace realizes there is the threat of competition from the multitude of grads with similar skills and degrees; the challenge of making herself the best candidate is one she can deal with.
At this crucial point in Candace’s life when she is ready to move into her first professional position; she sees her online presence and her communication expertise as competitive advantages. Her research shows there are opportunities to explore in a number of different fields where her youthful enthusiasm and knowledge can benefit her and her future employer.
Make a list of your strengths & weaknesses:
Now, what are your opportunities and threats:
For more visit thinktowin.net
Earlier in my career, I was a young sales manager for a healthcare company with a mentor who “taught” me the importance of setting the right priorities. It was about the numbers! “Your number one priority is hitting your quota – that’s how you get ahead – that’s why we hired you!” Well guess what happened, the job became about hitting the numbers. Sales meetings became about setting priorities, numbers, quotas, targets etc. We couldn’t wait to get out of those “dreadful” sales planning meetings. I look back upon those days – they seem kind of silly now. We were missing something really important. If I had only thought differently – what might have been possible?
Earlier this month, I was facilitating an executive retreat for a major healthcare company and something very important took place. Imagine a room filled with senior executives who were there to discuss and align on the 2016 priorities for the business. The conversation that followed was truly remarkable.
I started out by asking the executives (there were about 40 of them in the room) two questions:
- The first question was how many of you come to work each day trying to lose money for the company? As you can imagine – a few chuckles were followed by no hands being raised.
- The second question I asked was how many of you think your work makes a difference in the lives of others? All the hands went up!
A very interactive dialogue centered on what are the “priorities on behalf of.” Yes, the team needed to execute around things that were going to drive growth, productivity, and innovation; and, that did happen – but in a different and more purposeful way. The whole conversation shifted to “purpose” and stories of how patients and health care professionals benefited from the company’s products and services. Throughout the retreat –when a priority discussion ensued –it was often followed by a quick story on how that decision would impact clients and / or patients while supporting the desired business results.
A priority conversation during a business meeting allows people to quickly align around what results the business must produce. Now that is not silly.
For Candace, a promising college senior, the thought of paying off her student loans was a constant worry, keeping her awake nights wondering how to land her dream job; the job that would pay her loans and satisfy her desire to learn and advance in her field. Candace knew it would be difficult, yet she became increasingly frustrated when her search was getting her nowhere. As many young professionals learn, being thrown into the real world can be a daunting task when you are not secure in your skills and what you can bring to a new job. A key step missing in Candace’s dream job process was how to assess her skills and find out what she needed to succeed in a world where most recent college graduates and alumni are unemployed. For Candace’s business management class she was assigned to read Think to Win but she never realized how essential it would be in helping her with her own career search. She found out what she needed was a strategic tool to help with her job search and Think to Win was that tool.
As we worked on writing Think to Win (TTW) we were gratified at myriad ways this analytical process could be used for a host of other applications. Beyond our business model, TTW offers a path to become a winner whether you are changing professions, planning to retire or setting up a nonprofit organization. Whenever important decisions need to be made you will find the TTW process a proven winner. With basic principles to guide you and your evidence based research to answer your questions, the TTW methodology directs you to the best options for your particular inquiry. Like strengthening a muscle, the more you use the process the more adapt you’ll become at using it. From there you will see what a convenient guide you have to make decisions, big and small, when you face the multiple demands of life.
I will be posting a series of blogs about Candace and how she used the TTW analytical process to find her dream job. You’ll learn how she challenged the conventional wisdom about job availability and used evidence- based data to understand the true job opportunities. She examined her goals and worked out the strategies it would take to accomplish them. From reading Candace’s story you too can begin to look at decision making in a new light.
Even if you are not a sports fan – here is a valuable lesson in living values. Being a big college basketball fan, myself and many other VCU alumni were deeply saddened when we lost our basketball coach. Shaka Smart, one of the most sought after coaches in the country is known for building winning programs. I mean winning in the big sense –not just in wins and losses on the basketball court. He won with his players, the university the fans and the community. He is now the head basketball coach at the University of Texas where he was hired to do just that.
While flipping through my weekly issue of Sports illustrated, I was presently surprised to find an article about him. Written by Brain Hamilton, Attack the Day: Shaka Smart instilling his style in first summer at Texas highlights Coach Smart’s leadership style. The part of the article which resonated with me most was the importance he places on values and how he expects all players to make them real. When Values are just labels – they are content free and are meaningless.
How does he do this? By having each player live them! Here is an example of how we does it with the teams value of “appreciation” wants to manifest the value of “Appreciation.” Here is an excerpt from Sports Illustrated writer Brian Hamilton’s article:
Smart is gifted with uncommon charisma and a relentlessly positive outlook, but he is just like every other coach taking on a new job. He must motivate strangers to buy what he is selling. This is Appreciation Monday, and Smart gives every player homework. Each must demonstrate nonverbal appreciation to someone that day—a hug, a smile—and report back. “It’s tough to do,” says Holland, who will fulfill his duty by hugging the strength coaches, “but he wants to hear about it.” Smart demands that his players live his core values.
Leaders who produce results are able decide what is most important and bring those concepts to life in order to achieve results. In our strategy planning retreats with senior leaders, we will we often ask people to take out a blank sheet of paper and write down their company values. It is not uncommon to see some struggle with this exercise — much less be able to provide examples of how people live them. Values expressed and lived are an important part of any organization. The set the tone for the culture – which ultimately is what Strategy rides on.
We could all learn from coach Smart – he Thinks To Win
I have enjoyed following the Apple – Taylor Swift story. Apple Music is a streaming music service, scheduled to launch this month. As a promotion for its consumers, it is offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. Sounds great – one problem it was not planning on paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. Enter Taylor Swift!
Last year, Fortune ranked Apple as the most powerful brand in the world. According to Forbes, the Apple brand is worth $124.2 billion and almost twice as much as any other brand in their annual study of the world’s most valuable brands. It has tremendous credibility and leverage and they have continuously leveraged that in the marketplace.
Well how about the Taylor Swift brand? It is also meaningful and significant! We believe Apple made the right choice on this one –what do you think?
Read the New York times article below
I wish I had learned this sooner — 3 lessons in leadership by non-profit leaders – how they think to win!
Rolling up your sleeves and working with the executive director and a board of a non-profit provides some of the best training for leaders I know. Invest the time and see how they …
- Make decisions that truly balance the financial health of the organization with the organization’s mission. Think about it — without money there is no mission – yet without mission there is no money.
- Manage “volunteers” who can come and go much easier than employees — they are experts at building relationships and using influencing skills.
- Use the collective thinking and expertise of key stakeholders to identify the best strategic options. A lack of resources requires them to reach out for help. The ego is on behalf of making a difference with their organization.