Tag Archives: strategic thinking

Want a less innovative culture? Well, don’t read this!

barriersWhen 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:

  1. Functional (Siloed) thinking, multiple sub-cultures, and lack of focus make it difficult to “talk to each other” particularly on strategic issues.
  2. Resources are wasted in trying to get “people on the same page”
  3. There is a lack of clarity around what people are really trying to solve for
  4. Open to new ways of thinking “We have always done it here this way” honest assumptions are not challenged in a non-threatening way –
  5. People are never really empowered because they have not been trained on a common approach on how to solve problems
  6. 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?

  1. Assess current strategic thinking and alignment capability. What is the information telling you?
  2. Implement a proven, systematic, strategic thinking process for analyzing and implementing business opportunities
  3. Train cross-functionally as people learn from each other and can practice using the process to demonstrate proficiency
  4. Use a common toolkit which allows you to begin applying the process to a real-life business opportunity/challenge
  5. Utilize a shared strategic communications framework for written analysis and “presentations”
  6. 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 pbutler@globaledg.com 

  *Source: Think-to-Win Unleashing the Power of Strategic Thinking, McGraw-Hill 2015  http://www.thinktowin.net/book.html

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

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President Blog

What I’d Tell the Next President

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

Blog

New Leaders – Who could slow you down?

 

In today’s fast-paced environment, the window that a new leader has to win is short.  If you do not have a way to quickly determine who on your team you can depend on – you can’t WIN!

I was on the phone last night with the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) from one of our new clients. A pulse check on how her team was doing led to a discussion on how she uses the strategic thinking approach to quickly assess the capabilities of the people she has on her team.  “When I come into an organization, I have a quick window to not only assess my function, but to determine who best fits with where I want to take the organization.  As a leader, I have been brought in for a reason — to help an organization grow.  We can only do that if we know where we are – where we want to go – and who is going to help us get there.” I want everyone to succeed, and I need to see who on my teams can and will contribute immediately and what help others might need to quickly get there.

A disciplined approach to Thinking, Planning, and Acting does more than just produce a great plan. When done collectively with a new team, it provides a new leader a chance to observe and work with his or her team and quickly assess who is going to help you produce quick wins.   An approach that combines the tools of strategic thinking with the principles and practices of collaboration is powerful. It helps a new leader quickly begin to answer the following:

 Who is able and willing to work as a team member to collectively solve problems?

Who on my team is open to new ways of thinking about previously held beliefs?

Who is able to quickly identify and communicate the most important issues?

Who has displayed both functional skills and leadership capabilities?

Who can get things done?

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For more visit: www.thinktowin.net

 

UMASS Boston Speaking event 3-20-16

Paul Butler Speaks to Business Fraternity of UMASS Boston

Paul Butler President of GlobalEdg, and co-author of the business book Think to Win, had the opportunity to speak with the Delta Sigma Pi Xi Phi business chapter of UMASS Boston on March 21st, 2016. Paul was able to share stories of his own experiences and help these students with their career searches. Paul began his talk with asking a very important question to the students, what makes you unique to prospective employers? Paul was able to guide these students in answering that question through strategic thinking business tools displayed in Think to Win. The students of Delta Sigma Pi Xi were given an opportunity to examine how to build their own strategic plans for their careers. Paul used proven practices and strategies from Think to Win to walk these young professionals through a process that would not only help them in a career search but throughout life, and by the end of the event they were able to answer that important question.

If you would like Paul to speak at your event contact: athorne@globaledg.com or 203-405-6810

Think to Win Cover web

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/.

 

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Are you stuck in your job search? Think to WIN!

Consider this,

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. 

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The Power of the Taylor Swift Brand

apple.swiftI 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
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/23/business/media/as-quick-as-a-taylor-swift-tweet-apple-had-to-change-its-tune.html?_r=0

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

       I recently interviewed a team of senior executives for an upcoming planning session. When I asked the question of what was going well the executive whom we will call Phil was to the point and able to articulate two to three points without hesitation. When a follow-up question came, “What is missing or could this executive team do better?” Phil’s answers were prefaced with, “I want to tell you something that I would not want repeated.”
When we work with teams, we always interview the executives before an engagement, and we are very clear on how the information will be used. We emphasize the interview feedback will be reviewed to identify patterns and themes in the data, and all information will be consolidated and reported by patterns and themes, and specific information will not be attributed to any individual.
We are almost always told that we can “share with anyone what I am saying” –but inadvertently, always during the interview, an executive will ask to go off the record, oftentimes with something that should be shared.

     My question that comes up is, what would you do if you were not afraid?

Our research shows that although respondents feel that their organization is open to new ways to explore and change the status quo, more than 70% believe that their organization does not encourage them to express their views. Three recommendations to reduce the fear:

        1. Get clear on the language of what it means to “encourage” people to express their views.   Realizing that most people really care and are committed to doing the right thing is important –make it easy for them to do the right thing!
        2.  Teach people how to better discriminate between what is fact and what is opinion (allows people to be more objective). People gain confidence when they are able to sit back and assess a situation that is grounded in facts. They are better able to articulate their concern, or the fear subsides and the concern can be placed into a larger context –not an individual compelling.
        3.   Encourage people to explore answers to questions together –this builds trust and mutual respect. The old adage ”Two heads are better than one” can help a lot here. Partner with a colleague.

The ability to create a culture where people are encouraged to express their views increases when people have the tools to truly conduct a fast-based assessment, take opinions out of the equations, and jointly co-discover what the issues are.