Tag Archives: communication

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?

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