Monday, 28 September 2015

10 Behaviors of Real Leaders

10 Behaviors of Real Leaders
Image credit: Shutterstock
There’s usually a pecking order in the animal kingdom. There are queen
bees, alpha gorillas, and male-female wolf pairs that dominate the pack.
Humans are no different.
This may come as a shock, but organizational constructs like tribes,
societies, and companies are not the result of high-level intelligence
but of primitive survival impulses reinforced by neurotransmitters in the
brain’s ancient limbic system.
To say that leadership and organizational behavior has been successful
in the animal kingdom is a gross understatement. The planet is fully
populated by millions of animal species that all exhibit the same sort of
The point is, leadership is not so much a thought process as it is
instinctive behavior. It’s evolutionary. It’s to a great extent responsible
for our survival on earth. And that’s why we do it. As survival imperatives
go, it’s right up there with eating and breeding. No kidding.
So when I say, “Leaders lead. Followers follow. You can’t do both,” in
my upcoming book, Real Leaders Don’t Follow, I’m not making this
stuff up. It’s biology. Granted, you can behave any way you like by
overriding your survival instincts, but neither you nor I get to change
how the species behaves. Evolution’s got that covered.
I know you didn’t click on the headline to get a biology lesson, but it’s
important to understand that leadership is not really about traits or
habits. It’s primarily a behavioral phenomenon. So let’s be practical
for a moment and discuss the sort of behavior we consistently value
in our most cherished leaders.    

They teach.

Apple CEO Tim Cook credits the company’s success in no small part
to Steve Jobs’s role as a teacher. The way Apple’s unique culture
continues to flourish and scale, even as the company grows to
enormous size and valuation, is a testament to the way Jobs taught
his team what matters most, so they could teach their teams, and
so on.   
If they hear you, they will listen.
Whether it’s politics, business, or non-profit, there are great demands
on leaders’ time. That comes with the territory. So there are physical,
organizational, and mental barriers they put up to block out the
noise. Nevertheless, their success depends on being open to new
and different perspectives. So, if they hear you, they will listen.

They challenge themselves.

Great leaders are never satisfied with the status quo and that goes
for their own status quo, as well. They may recognize the success
of the team, especially after a long hard effort, but you’ll rarely see
them patting themselves on the back. Their own accomplishments
don’t excite them; the next challenge does.

They don’t follow.

All leaders learn from experience and mentors. All leaders serve
their stakeholders. But learning and serving are not the same as
following. Real leaders serve and learn from others, but they still
carve their own path. They have their own unique ways of doing things.
And, when it comes to key decisions, they trust only their own judgment
and their own gut.

They solve big problems.

Real leaders don’t play small ball. Whether it’s a customer problem,
a constituent problem, or a societal problem, they live to come up with
innovative solutions to big, tough problems. Real leaders are great

Their vision inspires others to act.

I’ll never understand the endless debates over what leadership is and
isn’t. It’s simple, really. Leaders are those who others follow. And
leadership behavior causes others to act. Whether they have a vision
for a product, an organization, a people, or a future, that’s what inspires
them to lead and their followers to action.

They don’t whine.

Most great leaders grew up with adversity, so they learned at an early
age that complaining gets them nowhere. Instead, they set out to
prove something to themselves and others – that they’re special,
unique, worthy, capable – and that’s often a self-fulfilling prophecy.

They don’t overindulge their egos.

Even if it’s not self-evident, most successful leaders have healthy
egos – a strong sense of self. There are exceptions, but they’re rare.
In any case, when our egos write checks that reality can’t cash,
that’s self-limiting behavior. Some leaders learn from those mistakes
and gain wisdom and humility. Others don’t, and that’s unfortunate.

They do only what matters.

Leaders are by definition people of consequence. They’re driven by
their vision, their obsession, a problem they must solve, whatever, but
they’re usually driven by one thing and that’s what matters to them.
They move heaven and earth to make it happen and ignore pretty
much everything else, although there’s usually an exception or two.

They’re effective, not efficient.

Since they’re consumed by a passion of some sort, that’s what
they’re all about. Minutiae like optimizing, fine-tuning, efficiency,
and productivity are completely off their radar screen, unless of
course it just happens to be their specific focus. I suppose there
have been leaders of the Toyoda (yes, that’s how it’s spelled, not
Toyota) family obsessed with Kaizen – continuous improvement
– but that’s an unusual circumstance.
The important thing to keep in mind is that leaders are defined by
their behavior. What they do and don’t do. How they act and don’t
act. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are extraverts and
introverts. They’re morning people and night owls. They’re healthy
and completely out of shape. They have neat desks and workspaces
that look like a tornado ripped through it.
One thing’s for certain. Real leaders don’t follow. It’s biology

Creating A Continuous Improvement Culture

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Why Do Great Ideas Fail?

Dr Gregory LeStage, executive vice president of John Kotter’s advisory firm, Kotter International discusses why all the seemingly great ideas fail at the execution stage
Everybody is chasing the next big shiny idea. However, statistics have proven time and again that though leaders are good in coming up with strategies, they fail in execution. Do you agree?
For many executives, the initial attraction of new ideas can be powerful, even intoxicating. New ideas are the precious metals of the executive marketplace, and they are plentiful. Roughly 11,000 new business titles are published each year, not to mention the tens of thousands of magazines, articles and whitepapers that focus on the latest “big idea”. If the timing and ideas are right, executives use expertise and painstaking craftsmanship to shape them into winning strategies. However, look closely at the floors of many C-Suite offices. They are littered with yesterday’s, last month’s, and last year’s bright, shiny objects, now dulled.
In the interim, do you think that “bright” idea is no longer relevant?
We think it’s because the ideas lose their lustre – or their value – due to 1) who generated them, 2) how they morphed during generation, and 3) how they transitioned from the executives’ minds to the hands of the workforce. In many organisations, blue-sky thinking and idea incubation are the tightly held domains of the top-level executives and their consultant confidants – an interplay of methods, tools and activities familiar to many from their business school days. Idea generation is fun, fast, comparatively easy, and – typically – the province of the select few. Tremendous time, attention, rigour and respect are paid to these strategies as bright, shiny objects. Then they run into the ‘Great Wall of Execution’ that divides thinking and doing: Executives kill the ideas in infancy or doom them to future failure by not involving enough people at the outset.
How can ideas be transformed into real-time business applications in an effective manner? Do leaders fail in capitalising on their employees’ strengths?
Too many of today’s executives fail to engage the right or right amount of people in execution. A typical mistake is to outsource their M&A integration and strategy execution efforts to external consulting firms. Similarly, many senior leaders “anoint” special groups of select employees to do this work. This has the same effect as conventional outsourcing: small numbers of people have been exclusively appointed to perform critical work on behalf of the large majority of the workforce. Outsourcing does not engage the diversity of ranks and roles – never mind the sheer numbers – of employees required to truly integrate, change and execute in ways that are deep, accelerated, and lasting. Perhaps, this is a reason that more than 70 per cent of strategies fail to execute. Insourcing can be far more effective when facing big opportunities and challenges. When CEOs tap the expertise and energy of their own employees in large, diverse, coordinated numbers, they unleash formidable intellectual power, labour, and motivation.
Also, do you think leaders are millennial-ready?
Today’s generation of senior executives – in large and small companies – will soon become the minority in terms of experience, education, and expectations. This looming transformation is well-known, but there is not a commensurate sense of urgency to really, holistically prepare for it. CEOs must begin to lead their organisations’ human capital strategy towards this future now because the shift is so far reaching. Millennials’ different skill-sets, mindsets and expectations of employment will infuse every cell of an organisation. Any leader over 40 would be well-served to study closely the successes and failures of companies built or heavily populated by millennials.
And with the global expansion of companies, do you think leaders are well-equipped to handle ‘glocal’ challenges?
As more companies are spreading around the world, a chronic challenge is becoming bigger: how to lead the company – from headquarters or within the individual regions or units? Hence, there exists the global/local dilemma. CEOs make the mistake of attempting to “solve” it by giving too much authority to corporate or too much autonomy to their local entities. Ironically, vastly increased connectivity has not made leading such connected workforces any easier. Communication and collaboration will always be hindered by the gulfs between locations and cultures.

When Did Brand Become a Dirty Word?

If you ever want to raise the hackles of the typical digital marketer, just talk at length
about branding.
They’ll tell you that, in an age of near-perfect information and abundant consumer choice,
branding is merely a form of magical thinking, a layer of lipstick applied liberally to what may
otherwise still be a pig.
Focus instead, they’ll probably tell you, on creating the best product and the best experience
and deliver real, honest to goodness value to your customers and brand will accrue. It’s
practically the law of nature.
And they wouldn’t be wrong—or entirely right.
Clay Stobaugh, CMO of global publisher Wiley, says that brand marketers are vulnerable.
“Tenures of CMOs are historically short, but we’re now starting to see longevity,” he says,
referring to the widely reported spike in CMO tenure, which has more than doubled to 48
months over the last decade.
This longevity, Stobaugh suggests, is attributable to movement away from the vagaries of
branding to what he describes as a new power source for marketing leaders: real customer
insight and proof.
Insight means serving motivations, goals and needs when it matter most. It means
detecting and responding to consumer intent, in the moment, with a relevant and resonant
offer or experience.
And proof means closing the loop to demonstrate how marketing efforts yield outcomes.
Stobaugh says that this requires a reorientation from vanity metrics to business metrics.
“It requires that you talk about volume, velocity and conversion,” he says.
It requires that you run marketing, gasp, like a business.
Ajit Sivadasan seems to agree. In a recent interview, the head of global
e-commerce, sales, marketing and technology for Lenovo is asked about the classic
disconnect between CEOs and their CMOs. Why the rift?
He says, “The CEO is focused on the business and if the marketer is spending a lot
of time reporting awareness and brand image metrics …,” Sivadasan says, “The metrics
have to ultimately and unequivocally show how one drives the other.”
OK, so marketing has become more science than art—perhaps better attuned to math
geeks than the English majors currently occupying the leadership ranks?
That may be the tidy narrative, but it’s also a bit simplistic. There’s something more
at play.
Brian Miske, the CMO of Big Four accounting firm KPMG recently told me:
“The world is becoming more connected and changing on a daily basis. The one thing
that often stops us in our tracks is emotion; a feeling, a memory, a moment. Brands
are the filter for these emotions, as they are built from the heart. Their foundations are
anchored in aspiration and experiences that at the core are authentic.”
So marketing may be about the head, but it’s also about the heart (see “
Intelligent Brand Framework”).
The marketer who relies excessively on heart—with the retro stylings and soaring
rhetoric of a Don Draper, for example—may be truly vulnerable. But so is the marketer
who overcorrects to the other extreme.
The truth, as is often the case, is in between. Building a brand is about balancing head
and heart.
Miske continues: “Data can provide access but brands need to earn the emotion in the
customer’s heart and minds every day. Brands are critical to differentiate amongst the
haze of competitors.”

SOURCE: Gartner

    Saturday, 26 September 2015

    Increase Productivity and Employee Satisfaction Using Six Sigma

    Six Sigma principles and strategies have been used for years, but some business owners are just beginning to see the benefits of using these tools. One of the biggest benefits of Six Sigma is increased productivity. Increasing productivity is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your company, as it leads to lower production costs and higher profits.
    One of the most important things you can do to improve your company is have a comprehensive plan. As part of your comprehensive plan, you can use Six Sigma to design layout plans. This will help you determine whether a process layout (with like machines grouped together) or a product layout (where machines and workers are placed according to the order of the manufacturing process) is the most efficient way for your manufacturing area to be set up. Additionally, Six Sigma can be used to streamline operations, increase yields and improve the internal processes of your company.
    Image source: CBIS
    Managing Time
    Helping employees manage the time they spend at work effectively is one of the ways Six Sigma can improve the overall productivity of your business. Employees who use the Six Sigma system are asked to write a list of goals that they hope to achieve. Six Sigma data principles are then applied to those goals, using the areas of performance, fulfillment and learning as a guide. Participants may be asked questions about distractions during working time and whether these distractions are important enough to take time away from what they are working on. Employees may also be asked what they are doing to work toward their professional goals. The employees can then create a plan of action, which helps them become more efficient workers as well as happier employees.
    One of the goals of every human resources department is to have the most qualified and efficient employees in the places they need to be in the company at any given time. Six Sigma can help your hr department reach this goal by assessing performance and finding ways to reduce waste. Creating a business scorecard will help you to tie organizational goals to human resources processes so that your performance status in continually tracked and problems can be discovered and remedied quickly.
    Streamlining the process of adding and maintaining employees in your company is another great project for Six Sigma. Value stream maps can be used by companies such as call centers. They identify the most common call types and find ways to reduce the time spent on these calls. Six Sigma can also be used to design templates for recruiters that are posting jobs, increase the hit rate of your job postings, and decrease the time it takes for your company to respond to potential new employees. All of these things make your company more productive, as well as more desirable to both current and prospective employees.
    Increasing Employees Motivation
    Motivated employees will naturally be more productive than those who are unmotivated. There are techniques and tools from Six Sigma that are specifically designed to promote employee engagement and create systems of motivation that will work for the employees of your specific company. It’s important to remember that all companies are different and the employee reward systems that work for some companies may not be motivating for the employees of other companies. Six Sigma will individualize a system for your employees. Some companies have increased productivity by as much as 50 percent just by engaging their employees fully.
    Implementing new technology such as Six Sigma into your company can be daunting at first, but the benefits it can bring to your company far outweigh the initial learning curve. Using Six Sigma is an excellent way to improve the overall productivity of your company, as well as attract and keep valuable and productive employees.

    Learn What 5S is and How it Applies to Any Industry

    Friday, 25 September 2015

    5 Strategy Questions Every Leader Should Make Time For

    Have you ever noticed that when you ask someone in your company, “How are you?” they are more likely to answer “Busy!” than “Very well, thank you”? That is because the norm in most companies is that you are supposed to be very busy – or otherwise at least pretend to be – because otherwise you can’t be all that important. The answers “I am not up to much” and “I have some time on my hands, actually” are not going to do much for your internal status and career.
    However, that you are very busy all the time is actually a bit of problem when you are in charge of your company or unit’s strategy, and responsible for organizing it. Because it means that you don’t have much time to think and reflect. And thinking is in fact quite an important activity when it comes to assessing and developing a strategy.
    The CEO of a large, global bank once told me: “It is very easy for someone in my position to be very busy all the time. There is always another meeting you really have to attend, and you can fly somewhere else pretty much every other day. However, I feel that that is not what I am paid to do. It is my job to carefully think about our strategy.”
    I believe his view is spot-on. And there are other successful business leaders who understand the value of making time to think. Bill Gates, for example, was famous fortaking a week off twice a year – spent in a secret waterfront cottage – just to think and reflect deeply about Microsoft and its future without any interruption. Similarly, Warren Buffett has said, “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think.”
    If you can’t find time to think, it probably means that you haven’t organized your firm, unit, or team very well, and you are busy putting out little fires all the time. It also means that you are at risk of leading your company astray.
    As famous management professor Henry Mintzberg has described, much of strategy is “emergent.” It is often not the result of a strategic plan just being implemented, but driven by opportunistic responses to unexpected events. Stuff happens. Companies often engage in new activities – customers, markets, products, and business models – serendipitously, in response to external events and lucky breaks. But this also means that business leaders need to make ample time to reflect on the configuration that has emerged. They need to systematically analyze and carefully think it through, and make adjustments where necessary.
    Many leaders don’t make that time – at least not enough of it.
    If you are in charge of an organization, force yourself to have regular and long stretches of uninterrupted time just to think things through. When you do so – and you should – here are five guiding questions that could help you reflect on the big picture.
    1. What does not fit? Ask yourself, of the various activities and businesses that you have moved into, do they make sense together? Individually, each of them may seem attractive, but can you explain why they would work well together; why the sum is greater than the parts?
    As the late Steve Jobs explained to Apple’s employees when he axed a seemingly attractive business line, “Although micro-cosmically it made sense, macro-cosmically it didn’t add up.” If you can’t explain how the sum is greater than the parts, re-assess its components.
    2. What would an outsider do? Firms often suffer from legacy products, projects, or beliefs. Things they do or deliberately have not done. Some of them can be the result of what in Organization Theory we call “escalation of commitment.” We have committed to something, and determinedly fought for it – and perhaps for all the right reasons – but now that things have changed and it no longer makes sense, we may still be inclined to persist. A good question to ask yourself is “what would other, external people do, if they found themselves in charge of this company?”
    Intel’s Andy Grove called it “the revolving door” when discussing strategy with then-CEO Gordon Moore; let’s pretend we are outsiders coming new to the job, ask ourselves what they would do, and then do it ourselves. It led Intel to withdraw from the business of memory chips, and focus on microprocessors. This resulted in more than a decade of 30 percent annual growth in revenue and 40 percent increase in net income.
    3. Is my organization consistent with my strategy? In 1990, Al West, the founder and CEO of SEI – the wealth management company that, at the time, was worth $195 million – found himself in a hospital bed for three months after a skiing accident. With not much more to do than stare at the ceiling and reflect on his company’s present and future, he realized that although they had declared innovation to be key in their strategy, the underlying organizational architecture was wholly unsuited for the job.When he went back to work, he slashed bureaucracy, implemented a team structure, and abandoned many company rules. The company started growing rapidly and is now worth about $8 billion.
    As a consequence of his involuntary thinking time, West did what all business leaders should do: he asked himself whether the way his company was set up was ideal for its strategic aspirations. What would your organization look like if you could design it from scratch?
    4. Do I understand why we do it this way? When I am getting to know a new firm, for instance because I am writing a case study on them, I make it a habit to not only find out how they do things but also explicitly ask why. Why do you do it this way? You’d be surprised how often I get the answer “that’s how we have always done it” [while shrugging shoulders] and “everybody in our industry does it this way.”
    The problem is that if you can’t even explain why your own company does it this way, I am quite unconvinced that it could not be done better. For example, when more than a decade ago I worked with a large British newspaper company, I asked why their papers were so big. Their answer was “all quality newspapers are big; customers would not want it any other way.” A few years later, a rival company – the Independent – halved the size of its newspaper, and saw a surge in circulation. Subsequently, many competitors followed, to similar effect. Yes, customers did want it. Later, I found out that the practice of large newspapers had begun in London, in 1712, because the English government started taxing newspapers by the number of pages they printed — the publishers responded by printing their stories on so-calledbroadsheets to minimize the number of sheets required.  This tax law was abolished in 1855 but newspapers just continued printing on the impractically large sheets of paper.
    Many practices and habits are like that; they once started for perfectly good reasons but then companies just continued doing it that way, even when circumstances changed. Take time to think it through, and ask yourself: Do I really understand why we (still) do it this way? If you can’t answer this question, I am pretty sure it can be done better.
    5. What might be the long-term consequences? The final question to ask yourself, when carefully reflecting on your company’s strategy and organization, is what could possibly be the long-term consequences of your key strategic actions. Often we judge things by their short-term results, since these are most salient, and if they look good, persist in our course of action. However, for many strategic actions, the long-term effects may be different.
    Consider a practice adopted by many of the UK’s IVF clinics – of selecting only relatively easy patients to treat, in order to boost short-term success rates (measured in terms of number of births resulting from the treatment). The practice seems to make commercial sense, because it (initially) makes a clinic look good in the industry’s “League Table.” But, as my research with Mihaela Stan from University College London showed, it backfires in the long run because it deprives an organization of valuable learning opportunities which in the long run leads to a lowerrelative success rate.
    When you start a new strategy or practice it is of course impossible to measure such long-term consequences ex-ante, however, you can think them through. For instance, when we asked various medical professionals in these clinics what might be the benefits of treating difficult patients, they could understand and articulate the learning effects very well. They could not measure them, but with some careful thought they could understand the potential long-term consequences before even engaging in the strategic action. Actions often have different effects in the short and long run. Sit down and think them through.
    Strategy, by definition, is about making complex decisions under uncertainty, with substantive, long-term consequences. Therefore, it requires substantial periods of careful, undisturbed reflection and consideration. Don’t just accept the situation and business constellation you have arrived at. Leadership is not just about doing things, it is also about thinking. Make time for it.

    Why Social Customer Service Is Your 1st Real Digital Milestone

    I’m fond of pooh poohing those who think that adopting chat or another ‘new’ channel means they have gone digital. This is because classifying channels in this way is arbitrary and technically inaccurate.
    On the other hand I can recognise their intent when on a site visit you are introduced to the ‘digital’ team. It’s not just that they sit in their own space; they already look like a different tribe.
    Instead I think much more prominence should be given to social customer service as being your digital laboratory. It provides all the core challenges.
    Having just facilitated a recent masterclass on the topic, a number of table conversations are still fresh in my mind which a few days further on have now come into perspective.
    To give you a frame of reference, the masterclass explores the following competencies. It’s worth slowly reading the full list to give you a sense of the challenge this throws up in everyone’s mind.
    As a framework to generate a strategy and roadmap it makes sense. Only it’s a big ask given the organisational context everyone actually sits in every day. Exploring each competency seemed to trigger memories and emotional reactions around how their organisation is trying to cope with becoming adaptive, real time responsive, data literate, customer focussed etc.
    For sure, the list of intermeshing initiatives most organisations are currently running is frightening in terms of project management complexity. And yes it is the clearest signal that the need for radical improvement is both recognised and being invested in.
    Unfortunately how it all joins up into real world outcomes and benefits for customers and employees is often overlooked.

    Change Management Need Fixing As An Urgency

    This is a major error is my view. Yet it is the product of conveyor belt change management. Isolate, go deep, stay focussed is the accepted wisdom. To which I say what about joining the dots, sharing inputs and outputs, generating an end state vision?
    Command and control thinking continues to infect our plans to escape the management theories of 20th century industrialisation.
    Witnessed at ground floor level, old school planning and execution results in a messy, wasteful, often deeply irritating experience. I think what struck me most strongly in the chats I overheard at break time which then occasionally surfaced in the formal group discussions, was the overwhelming need for ‘a better way’. Even more so given the undoubted talent of individuals I’ve met in all the master classes.
    Their stories show that every organisational culture seems primitive in terms of bringing out the entrepreneurial talent needed to transition into and then thrive in a digitally interconnected world.
    The lifecycle of a typical initiative always seems to attract ‘Faulty Towers’ type dysfunctional behaviour. These are laugh-out-loud, stupid decisions that squash new shoots of green growth. When deliberate rather a result of unconscious incompetence, it’s amazing that such people are allowed to get away with it.
    In a family context, it would quite rightly be called out as childish behaviour and punished appropriately. There is still too much immunity in organisational life for this reaction to ‘building a better us’.
    Soapbox aside, these fifteen competencies provide a real ‘ironman’ challenge in terms of endurance and focus. None are impossibilities. But it is going to take some to make them happen.
    This is why I think the development of effective social customer is a much more fitting challenge towards becoming a digitally competent service organisation than claiming the inclusion of a new channel as being what it’s all about.

    Your Milestone Checklist

    Therefore in summary I’m suggesting that once the following competencies are up and running, you should take the team out to celebrate reaching your first digital milestone.
    • Your social radar can hear that cry for help or that opportunity to digital ‘high five’ amongst all the online noise. Having popped the bonnet and tinkered with your listening criteria, you are pretty comfortable that the match between the actual voice of the social customer and what you pick up pretty much matches.
    • The way you engage is tight. It does not leave gaps for third party criticism or invite potential consumer activism. The team trusts its collective judgement, instinctively weaves a pattern of front footed engagement to generate resolution as fast as possible with minimum customer effort, and can inject personality into the conversation. The senior team has learnt to bite its nails and not interfere.
    • Social customer service functions as a fast lane service. Certain people and certain topics are expedited relative to standard class service. Ways around the bureaucracy have been established. A network of ‘customer first’ sympathisers are ready to come to the aid of any beleaguered customer cases.
    • Success is measured both in terms of enquiry resolution and customer journey improvement. Getting individual issues sorted fast and effectively are one priority. The other is to learn from those engagements and have a feedback loop able to feed a continuous improvement workflow monitored via aspirational customer journey maps. The net result is that ‘dumb’ stuff disappears over time.
    • Quality assurance starts to track the consistency of experience across channels including social. This is strongly focussed on knowledge management and how a ‘single version’ is maintained across channel teams.
    • Even if there is still ‘big corporate stuff’ going on around making CRM work, someplanning has taken place in readiness around how to collect and use social profile data (e.g. for personalisation, interaction analytics etc).
    • The team has developed a sixth sense. They are trained to imagine the impact they leave behind for others to see. Their instinct is to leave a footprint that encourages others to think well of the brand. They run a Goodwill Index. Marketing is smart enough to tap into this word of mouth goldmine and use their storytelling powers to amplify these brand successes.
    • Well thumbed escalation guidelines are used to recognise danger and act accordingly. Everyone knows what to do. It’s a regularly rehearsed competency, dovetailed into a broader business continuity game plan.
    • Whatever is discovered within this much more responsive and outcome orientated team is harvested as lessons for the traditional customer service teams. They are pulled out of their own legacy culture and operating practices as a result. Team leaders and advisors are challenged to start applying the mindset and advanced communication techniques to their own customer scenarios.
    • There is now a degree of alignment across the organisation around how social channels are used. This is likely to involve some combination of the following functions e.g. service, sales, marketing, social media, digital, corporate communications and PR. A few objectives are now common. Maybe even a pooling of budgets is taking place. People turn up in each other meetings to develop cross functional agendas. Social starts to dissolve silo plaque. Its strategic value kicks in as a transformational catalyst.
    • Advisors think working in the social customer service team is the coolest place to be

    SOURCE: CustomerThink

    Thursday, 24 September 2015

    The Toyota Way To Lean Leadership - Keynote talk by Jeffrey Liker


    Recently someone who I was discussing metrics with posed a thought provoking question, “If you could only have a few metrics to manage and monitor your business, which ones would you choose?" After thinking long and hard, here are my must-have key performance indicators.   

    1. Financial Standing:  EBITDA

    Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization provides an approximate measure of the company’s cash-flow based on the income statement. This is a standard financial measure that is tracked by most companies and investors.  

    2. Customer Satisfaction Index

    Customers are at the heart of every business (or they should be). Therefore, it is essential to continually check that customers are satisfied with products and services and that they are happy with the experience of dealing with us. The scope of Customer Satisfaction will, by necessity, embrace many different facets of interaction with the business so these individual measures would roll up to a composite index (with a facility to drill up and down).  

    3. Cultural Satisfaction Index

    This measure is subtle and culture can be difficult to measure. Its purpose is to measure stakeholder1 satisfaction with the company culture. 
    Traditionally, this type of survey was limited to Employees. Today,  in an environment where outsourcing is extensive and companies are nearly as dependent on or sometimes even more dependent on external parties as employees, extending satisfaction surveys beyond customers and employees makes good business sense.  
    What does Cultural Satisfaction mean? 
    1. Cultural Satisfaction checks adherence to the organisation’s stated values e.g. integrity, easy to do business with, fair, equal opportunity employer, inclusive, invests in its people, etc. as perceived by the stakeholder (See Q.26 on our FAQs) and is often  measured by the use of survey tools  and facilitated workshops. 
    2. The state of an organisation’s culture is intrinsically linked to leadership within the organisation and measuring it provides independent data to show whether Management and Employees “talk the talk” or “walk the walk”.     
    Again, Cultural Satisfaction will, by necessity, embrace many different facets of interaction with the business so these individual measures would roll up to a composite index (with a facility to drill up and down).  

    4. Competitiveness: Market Share   

    Market Share is the percentage of an industry or market's total sales, earned by a particular company over a specified time period. Market shares can be measured based on value or volume. Value market share is based on the total share of a company out of total segment sales. Volumes refer to the actual numbers of units that a company sells out of total units sold in the market. I would want to track both share and volume. 

    5. The Learning Organisation: Number of Implemented suggestions and innovations

    Whilst success and longevity is not guaranteed to any business, an organisation that is learning is better prepared for change as it continually invests in its future: by implementing improvements to products, services and internal efficiencies, and by designing and introducing new products and services.  
    Suggestions may arrive through many different channels: via employee suggestion programmes, via voice of the customer initiatives, social-media monitoring, supplier introduced improvements, or by soliciting contributions from a large group of people through structured initiatives such as Crowdsourcing.   
    A good indicator of whether the organisation is learning, or not, is to track the number of suggestions, which indicates the level of engagement, and the number of implemented suggestions which indicates quality of suggestions.  

    6. Internal Efficiency and Effectiveness: Business Process Maturity, Cost of Quality, Customer Satisfaction

    Together, these measures provide an indicator of the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation's operations. Including Customer satisfaction in this set of measures may seem unusual but it provides a useful independent cross-check of internal results. Clearly, if we think we are great and the customer doesn’t agree, further investigation is needed. 
    Business Process Capability Maturity provides a benchmark as to the organisation's current business process maturity on a scale of 1 to 5, with level 1 having few, if any, standardised business processes and level 5 being standardised and optimised to achieve world-class performance. 
    Cost of Quality is composed of the costs of Poor Quality and the costs of Good Quality. 
    Cost of Poor Quality (CoPQ) measures the cost of internal failure costs and external failure costs (IF+EF). This arises from a failure to meet requirements e.g. rework, re-design, re-servicing, product recalls etc.   
    Cost of Good Quality measures the cost of Appraisal cost and Preventive Cost (AC+PC). Essentially both of these costs are associated with avoiding internal and external failures and include activities such as training, calibrating, prototyping, pre-inspection etc. 
    Whilst challenging to track and place a value on some of these costs, the benefits of doing so are very worthwhile. Tracking Cost of Quality  provides a focus on the bottom line and also helps to shift responsibility for quality to where it rightly belongs i.e. operational managers.      

    7. Environmental P & L

    Invented by PUMA, the Environmental P & L measures the true costs of a business’s impacts on nature by placing a monetary value on them along the entire value chain.  (See Q.25 on our FAQs for an explanation of Environmental Profit and Loss)

    8. Enterprise Risk and Opportunity Profile 

    Business is inherently risky and risks need to be identified and managed so they don’t become issues that impact on the successful operation of the business. On the other hand, new business opportunities are emerging all the time. Therefore, one of the activities of senior management is to continually scan the environment – internally and externally, to identify existing and emerging risks and opportunities. Once identified, they are assigned a score based on Probability x Impact, prioritised, and managed.       
    This list puts the “Key” back into Key Performance Indicators and the “Balance” back into Balanced Scorecard. If the reported results were within pre-agreed targets, I think I’d sleep well at night.  

    Wednesday, 23 September 2015

    9 Unorthodox Ways To Make Your Employees More Productive

    Professionals often stick to conventional methods to increase the productivity of their employees. While tried-and-tested ways, such as increasing motivation via monetary compensation, might work to a certain extent, there are other, more cost-effective, remedies that can definitely get the best out of your workforce.
    Often employee happiness is directly related to an increase in the productivity of any business. And achieving this sort of work space satisfaction takes employee engagement and reduced stress.
    1) Create A Fun Work space That Drives Innovation
    Offices that go beyond mere functionality can make your employees proud to work for you. In fact, a well-designed office space is often considered to be directly correlated to staff productivity. Examples of this abound among more progressive organizations, like Pallotta Teamwork's warehouse-meets-shipping container aesthetic or Nokia's minimalist-chic vibe. Even, if you have a 'lean' office, try redesigning it using an attractive color, and decorating it with paintings, photos, and souvenirs.
    2) Sow The Seeds, Reap The Benefits
    Adding a splash of greenery to your office environment is considered to be great for your employees' happiness and productivity. Psychological studies clearly show that bringing plants into an office space can increase a team's productivity and memory retention while significantly reducing stress.
    3) Happy Hours Are Nothing But!
    If you think bringing fun to the office can be a distraction, employee retention experts would strongly disagree. Providing some quality fun time for your employees is the best stress buster there is, cheering up your staff even after a relentless day at work. Let your employees grab a few drinks after office and gather them around something that is 'not work.' This could involve creative brainstorming about the company blog or discussions on the next character to die on Game Of Thrones.
    The point is to make employees feel more comfortable around the office and provide a relaxed breeding ground for creative inspiration.
    4) Pets Can Do The Trick
    For many, pets are what cheer them up after a hectic day at work. How about allowing your staff to bring their pets to the office?
    Even if that might sound like a ridiculous idea, studies have proven that pets in the office create increased morale, happier employees, and a lower rate of absenteeism. Malcolm Gunning of Gunning Commercial, a Sydney-based real estate agency that promotes pet-friendly office spaces, says, "I think what it does is create a very balanced environment. Real estate sales, particularly, is stressful. You're dealing with large assets. It's often not straightforward. But the dogs are the calming effect. They're the balance."
    5) Seat 'Em Like You Mean It!
    Although sitting demands less physical effort than standing or walking, over time a bad chair can cause lower back pain and chronic stiffness. That's why the right furniture matters. In hectic industries, many employees spend half the day seated at a desk. Make it more worth their while, by investing in ergonomic seating that helps ease the stress of working.
    There are different types of ergonomic chairs available in the market. Choose ones that have easy adjustments and lower back support. Remember that the chair must also suit their task and workstation.
    6) A Little Bit Of Gaming
    Bringing games to the office can be one of the best possible ways to boost the energy levels of your employees. You should consider renovating your office by setting up a table tennis court or a bowling alley, where your team can gather for a 'chill session'.
    Informal, fun-driven gatherings have sometimes birthed the most revolutionary ideas. If you don't have the budget for a dedicated gaming space, investing in creative, team-based board games is a low-cost option.
    7) Social Media Access
    Often, companies decide to block access to all social media websites, fearing distraction and under-productivity. While some might see this as a basic fact of corporate life, it can make your employees feel overly restricted and tied down. Understand that social media is slowly becoming a vital to modern society, and barring employees from their favorite websites is a sign that you don't trust them to get their work done.
    8) Hobby Clubs For All
    Start a hobby club in your office to give your employees the chance to pursue their passions at work. While at the office, there is a high probability that your employees get stuck in their monotonous work routine and lose their passion for the finer details of life. This can affect their productivity seriously. If you don't want this to happen, nourish their talents by starting hobby clubs that cater to reading, the dramatic arts, nature and the outdoors, etc.
    9) Let Them Sweat It Out!
    Exercise or yoga breaks at work are a really effective productivity booster. A recent study shows that even if the employees use some time off their work for exercise, they can meet the required amount of productivity or higher. Contrary to popular thought, exercise is a great way to revitalize the mind and reduce fatigue from long work hours. You can even set up a mini-gym or hire a Zumba instructor at the office and promote the idea of exercise breaks in between work.
    OfficeTimer is a time tracking software that helps you manage time efficiently and boost productivity at work. And our experts are always trying to help you run a smoother, more efficient organization. For more great productivity tips, check out the OfficeTimer blog.

    Article Source:

    The 15 Characteristics of Effective Entrepreneurs

    Tuesday, 22 September 2015

    Rethinking Leadership

    Businesses need a new approach to the practice of leadership — and to leadership development.

    We have spent so much time and space, even in this magazine, looking
    for leadership in all the wrong places. Leadership is really not about
    leaders themselves. It’s about a collective practice among people
    who work together — accomplishing the choices we make together
    in our mutual work.
    That’s not, of course, the conventional notion of leadership. Beginning
    in the 19th century, the “Great Man” theory of leadership held that the
    historical march of civilization occurs based on the deeds of great
    individual leaders. Furthermore, these great leaders were thought to have
    been born with particular traits that accorded them greatness. Their deeds
    flowed from their personalities.
    Even though the study of leadership has since moved on to such factors
    as leadership styles and behaviors, the charismatic ideal of prominent
    leaders remains. Derived from the Greek, charisma has a meaning of
    both a gift and a grace that allows certain individuals to sway others and
    shape the future by their sheer presence and personality.
    But we’re at somewhat of a crossroads now in discerning just how
    successful the world’s great charismatic leaders have been over the
    past two centuries. Some might argue that our world is at a higher state
    of peaceful coexistence than at any prior time. However, others might
    contend that the human race is closer to the brink of extinction than at
    any time in history — and that our leaders have brought us to this point.
    What’s more, within corporations, there is a concern that, given such
    conditions as accessible communications technology, size and
    complexity, top-down oversight by leaders has limitations. For example,
    a September 2014 article from HR magazine quoted Simon Lloyd, HR
    director of the bank Santander UK, as observing that “technology is
    freeing things up”; he went on to say that because of the sheer size of
    organizations, “trying to impose a command-and-control structure
    doesn’t work.” In the same article, Betsy Sutter, corporate senior vice
    president and chief people officer at VMware Inc., was quoted as saying
    that, because of the rapid pace of change, "you can’t expect to be able
    to scale, transform and win if you’re not creating agile models. If it’s
    top-down, it moves too slowly."
    We can gain insights into a new model of leadership from the late Nelson
    Mandela, the former president of South Africa and one of the greatest
    figures of our time. Mandela frequently emphasized the shared nature
    of leadership and was known for giving credit to others. For example,
    when honored for his role in ending apartheid, he would note that
    abolishing apartheid was a collective endeavor. Perhaps one of the most
    important leadership lessons we might distill from Mandela was not his
     acquisition of leadership but the way he shared it.
    In fast-moving business environments, we can’t keep 
    dampening the energy and creativity of those condemned
     to follower status.
    Mandela’s approach suggests a new way of thinking about leadership
    — not as a set of traits possessed by particularly gifted individuals, but
    as a set of practices among those engaged together in realizing their
    choices. This kind of leadership involves activities such as scanning
    the environment, mobilizing resources and inviting participation,
    weaving interactions across existing and new networks and offering
    feedback and facilitating reflection.
    It also means that leadership development will require a different
    approach from standard training that pulls managers out of their
    workplaces to attend sessions that presume to teach leadership
    competencies. If leadership is a collaborative activity, it makes little
    sense to teach leadership to individuals in a public setting detached
    from the very group where leadership needs to occur. Managers
    learn particular competencies or skills in a class — but may not
    find them applicable to the real problems back in their home
    environment. Even the consultation of best practices may fall flat,
    since it is the instant practice within the immediate setting that requires
    the most attention.

    One of the methods available to instigate this kind of reflective dialogue
    is action learning, in which participants stop and reflect on real-time
    problems occurring in their own work environments. Action learning
    requires managers to make a concerted effort to observe and reflect
    together on the practices that have bottom-line impact. The information
    technology company Cisco, based in San Jose, California, has used
    action learning to link the company’s growth and collaborative strategies
    with leadership development. Through programs like Cisco’s, employees
    learn leadership development in the context of their jobs and while
    learning to grow the business.
    This doesn’t mean that leadership training
    isn’t necessary; rather, it should be done in a way that responds to
    immediate needs and in conjunction with formal and informal work-based
    developmental experiences, such as peer mentoring, coaching,
    apprenticeship, group process reflection and action learning. In thinking
    about how to develop leadership within a group, we may need to find
    ways to bring more of the unconscious and unreflective into the
    conscious and intentional domain. We need to study instances of failure,
    dissonance, crisis and obstruction in the workplace — or even surprises
    that spur creativity.
    The upshot of this article is not to suggest we do away with leaders as
    much as it is to unhook leadership from any insistence that it’s all about
    transferring instructions from “those who know” to “those who don’t.”
    In fast-moving business environments, we can’t keep dampening the
    energy and creativity of those condemned to follower status. Instead,
    we need a collective, self-correcting model of leadership in which
    participants learn to engage with one another and reflect on their own
    actions so that they can learn in the moment and improve their ongoing
    practices. Leadership in this sense is returned to the group doing the
    work — rather than solidified around an individual who is making
    decisions for others.