FINANCE (PAYROLL & COMPLIANCE) FUNCTION

Thinking Ahead Insights: Managing the present from the future

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  • Assemble a critical mass of key stakeholders.
  1. Many more than just the top 8 to 10 leaders.
  2. Should include key technologists and leading process engineers.
  3. Group should be sufficiently diverse to ensure conflict, which will get issues on the table so they can be resolved.
  4. Have to decide how it’s going to happen.
  • Do an organizational audit to generate a complete picture of how the organization really works.
  1. Understand the competitive situation.
  2. Reveal barriers to moving from “as is” to the future.
  3. Core values.
  4. Key systems.
  5. Strategic assumptions.
  6. Core competencies, etc.
  • Create urgency.
  1. A threat that everyone perceives, but no one is willing to talk about, is most debilitating to an organization
  2. Book of Five Rings  Japanese guide for samurai warriors. Written four centuries ago, directs the samurai to visualize his own death in the most graphic detail before going into battle. Idea being, once you have experienced death, there is not a lot left to fear: one can then fight with abandon.
  3. This helps explain the value of discussion about not changing and the dire consequences to a company in a difficult business situation.
  • Harnessing contention.
  1. Conflict jump-starts the creative process.
  2. Most companies suppress contention.
  3. Control kills invention, learning and commitment.
  4. Emotions often accompany creative tension, and they are often unpleasant.
  5. Intel plays rugby; your ability at Intel to take direct, hard-hitting disagreement is a sign of fitness.
  6. Many excellent companies build conflict into their designs.
  • Induce organizational breakdowns that foster out-of-the-box thinking and solutions.
  1. Breakdowns should happen by design, not accident.
  2. In trying to manage back from the future, concrete tasks will have to be undertaken; continuing on the current path will not get you there. Often you don’t know how to make these tasks occur. This will generate breakdowns, which can generate out-of-the-box thinking and solutions, if the situation is managed/lead correctly. ip info . Continuous open dialogue is key to working through breakdowns.
  3. Setting impossible deadlines is another way to encourage breakdowns and out-of-the-box thinking

 

Insights from: “The Reinvention Roller Coaster: Risking the Present for a Powerful Future.” By Tracy Goss, Richard Pascale and Anthony Athos.

Think Big – Leadership Revival

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When leaders use their influence to overpower people for selfish gain, they become less effective. Good leaders understand that influence is power and that how they handle power will affect their impact and results. The more you understand influence, the better you are able to maximize it for the benefit of those you lead—which in turn benefits you as well.

Jeremie Kubicek is the author of the newly released book, Leadership is Dead: How Influence is Reviving It. He is the CEO of GiANT Impact, a leader development company whose focus is to awaken leaders by raising their capacity to lead. Understanding influence is what makes leadership come alive, and here are five ways that Jeremie says that you can amplify your leadership abilities:

  1. Aim high. If your employees think that the goal of your organization is to make money so that you can buy a second home, they will not do their best work. People want to work for larger visions than bank accounts—especially your bank account. website traffic . Instead, aim high and aspire to make the world a better place to energize everyone.
  2. Be for others. People want to know you have their best interests at heart, too. The problem is that many leaders are primarily for themselves. seo data Or, at least that is what they show. Employees ask themselves if you are for them or only for yourself. Once they think that you’re only looking out for No. 1, they will label you and changing that label is difficult.
  3. Lead yourself. The starting point of effective leadership is to lead yourself; it is called self-awareness. To lead yourself you must know yourself—your tendencies, capacity constraints, strengths and weaknesses. When people see that you can lead yourself, then they will trust that you have the ability to lead them.
  4. Be intentional. Accidental leadership is not a good strategy. Being intentional means that you have a plan to achieve the organization’s goals. In particular, being intentional with relationships takes time, so think about how you want key employees to grow. Think about what you want the team to be focused on at the next meeting. Make intentionality a part of your culture.
  5. Look at the big picture. When we teach ourselves to think big, we enable ourselves to gain perspective. Then we can look at the big picture and make decisions that benefit the entire team. If we only look at one issue at a time, then we miss the benefit of seeing things from a different perspective. When we think bigger, we benefit ourselves and others.

According to Kubicek, leadership typically dies over time when a leader becomes more and more self-absorbed and focused solely on his or her own personal agenda. These five points are ways to counter death and begin giving your leadership new life. When leadership comes alive, so does the organization and the team.

You can learn more from Kubicek at his website or learn more about his book at Leadership Is Dead

Make Great Leadership Decisions

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Why do leaders fail?
They make bad decisions.
And in some cases they compound bad decision upon bad decision.

The truth is that even leaders who don’t fail make bad decisions from time-to-time. Those leaders who avoid making decisions solely for fear of making a bad decision, or conversely those that make decisions just for the sake of making a decision will likely not last long. The fact of the matter is that senior executives who rise to the C-suite do so largely based upon their ability to consistently make sound decisions.

Making sound decisions is a skill set that needs to be developed like any other. The first key in understanding how to make great decisions is learning how to synthesize the overwhelming amount incoming information leaders must deal with on a daily basis, while making the best decisions possible in a timely fashion. The key to dealing with the volumenous amounts of infomation is as simple as becoming discerning surrounding the filtering of various inputs.
Understanding that a hierarchy of knowledge exists is critically important when attempting to make prudent decisions. Put simply…not all inputs should weigh equally in one’s decisioning process. By developing a qualitative and quantitative filtering mechanism for your decisioning process you can make better decisions in a shorter period of time.

The hierarchy of knowledge is as follows:

  • Gut Instincts: This is an experiential and/or emotional filter that may often times have no current underpinning of hard analytical support. That said, in absence of other decisioning filters it can sometimes be all a person has to go on when making a decision. Even when more refined analytics are available, your instincts can often provide a very valuable gut check against the reasonability or bias of other inputs. The big take away here is that intuitive decisioning can be refined and improved. My advice is to actually work at becoming very discerning.
  • Data: Raw data is comprised of disparate facts, statistics, or random inputs that in-and-of-themselves hold little value. Making conclusions based on data in its raw form will lead to flawed decisions based on incomplete data sets.
  • Information: Information is simply an evolved, or more complete data set. Information is therefore derived from a collection of processed data where context and meaning have been added to disparate facts which allow for a more thorough analysis.
  • Knowledge: Knowledge is information that has been refined by analysis such that it has been assimilated, tested and/or validated. Most importantly, knowledge is actionable with a high degree of accuracy because proof of concept exists.

Even though people often treat theory as knowledge, and opinion as fact, they are not one in the same. I have witnessed many a savvy executive blur the lines between fact and fiction resulting in an ill advised decision when decisions are made under extreme pressure and outside of a sound decisioning framework. Decisions made at the gut instinct or data level can be made quickly, but offer a higher level of risk. Decisioning at the information level affords a higher degree of risk management, but are still not as safe as those decisions based upon actionable knowledge.
Another aspect that needs to be factored into the decisioning process is the source of the input. I believe it was Cyrus the Great who said “diversity in counsel, unity in command” meaning that good leaders seek the counsel of others, but maintain command control over the final decision. While most successful leaders subscribe to this theory, the real question in not whether you should seek counsel, but in fact where, and how much counsel you should seek. You see more input, or the wrong input, doesn’t necessarily add value to a decisioning process. Volume for the sake of volume will only tend to confuse matters, and seeking input from sources that can’t offer significant contributions is likely a waste of time. Two other issues that should be considered in your decisioning process as they relate to the source of input are as follows:

  1. Credibility: What is the track record of your source? Is the source reliable and credible? Are they delivering data, information or knowledge? Will the source tell you what you want to hear, what they want you to hear, or will they provide the unedited version of cold hard truth?
  2. Bias: Are there any hidden and/or competing agendas that are coloring the input being received? Is the input being provided for the benefit of the source or the benefit of the enterprise?

The complexity of the current business landscape, combined with ever increasing expectations of performance, and the speed at which decisions must be made, are a potential recipe for disaster for today’s executive unless a defined methodology for decisioning is put into place. If you incorporate the following metrics into your decisioning framework you will minimize the chances of making a bad decision:

  1. Perform a Situation Analysis: What is motivating the need for a decision? What would happen if no decision is made? Who will the decision impact (both directly and indirectly)? What data, analytics, research, or supporting information do you have to validate the inclinations driving your decision?
  2. Subject your Decision to Public Scrutiny: There are no private decisions. Sooner or later the details surrounding any decision will likely come out. If your decision were printed on the front page of the newspaper how would you feel? What would your family think of your decision? How would your shareholders and employees feel about your decision? Have you sought counsel and/or feedback before making your decision?
  3. Conduct a Cost/Benefit Analysis: Do the potential benefits derived from the decision justify the expected costs? What if the costs exceed projections, and the benefits fall short of projections?
  4. Assess the Risk/Reward Ratio: What are all the possible rewards, and when contrasted with all the potential risks are the odds in your favor, or are they stacked against you?
  5. Assess Whether it is the Right Thing To Do: Standing behind decisions that everyone supports doesn’t particularly require a lot of chutzpah. On the other hand, standing behind what one believes is the right decision in the face of tremendous controversy is the stuff great leaders are made of. My wife has always told me that “you can’t go wrong by going right,” and as usual I find her advice to be spot on…Never compromise you value system, your character, or your integrity.
  6. Make The Decision: Perhaps most importantly you must have a bias toward action, and be willing to make the decision. Moreover as a CEO you must learn to make the best decision possible even if you possess an incomplete data set. Don’t fall prey to analysis paralysis, but rather make the best decision possible with the information at hand using some of the methods mentioned above. Opportunities and not static, and the law of diminishing returns applies to most opportunities in that the longer you wait to seize the opportunity the smaller the return typically is. In fact, more likely is the case that the opportunity will completely evaporate if you wait too long to seize it.

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

The traits of of Emerging Leaders

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Key points for spotting emerging leaders:

  • individuals who consistently deliver ambitious results for the company
  • individuals who consistently demonstrate the ability to grow, adapt, and be more flexible than their other top performing peers
  • individuals who ask for opportunity and expand their capacity of operation and influence
  • individuals who take things to the next level (ie: imagination, creativity, product futures etc)
  • individuals who have strong powers of observation, judgment, reactions that are spot on
  • individuals who are clear thinkers and have a point-of-view that may be counter to the trend, and finally
  • individuals who ask questions that are insightful that get the thought process into a creative frenzy.

ip info .

Creativity at Work

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Jeff DeGraff is a visionary in the field of Innovation and Creativity.

The long list of companies and organizations who have sought his advice includes GE, Eaton, Coca Cola, the FBI, Telemundo, Pfizer, and many more. His breakthrough methods for the systematic development of innovation, applying innovation to the practice of leadership, and monetizing innovation, coupled with his dynamic and personal style, have made him a leader in the field. He has also championed hands-on action learning by establishing Innovatrium, an innovation laboratory across the street from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, where he serves as a Clinical Professor. Innovatrium is the future of business education, where business leaders, professors and students collaborate to solve real world interdisciplinary problems. ip info . Jeff is also a renowned speaker and has given keynote speeches in national and international conferences for GE, Visa, American Airlines, and many others. seo data . His books, including “Creativity at Work” and “Leading Innovation” have been used as Innovation playbooks by many Fortune 500 companies.

For more information visit www.innovationyou.com

21 Powerful Ways to Motivate Yourself When You’re in a Slump

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Slumps can be devastating. They can take an otherwise productive, happy person and reduce him to a lethargic, depressed, indifferent person.

So what do you do?
If you’re like most people, you take a break from all of your projects and aspirations.
And you spend some time feeling depressed and indifferent to progress.

After a few weeks or months have passed, you exit your slump, but you do so very aware of how much time you’ve lost and how many opportunities you’ve forgone.

In the remainder of this guide, I’m going to help you to avoid that scenario. Instead of losing weeks or months to this slump or the next slump, you’re going to learn 21 ways to re-motivate yourself, refocus your life and goals, become happy and productive; and leave this slump in the distant past.
1. Take Action. Before you landed in this slump, you had goals, dreams, and lists of things you needed to do to accomplish them. At some point, you lost confidence in these ideas and stopped working on your projects and carrying out your dreams.
Well, it’s time to pursue those dreams once again. And you can do so by taking action. Ignore your feelings of lethargy and indifference and focus on making tangible progress. As you start checking things off of your “to do” list, you’ll feel better about yourself and the possibility of accomplishing your goals.
2. Ratchet Up Your Efforts. Working hard does not guarantee that you will accomplish your goals. But not working hard will undoubtedly ensure that you do not.
Be mindful of this when you’re deciding what to do for the day. Don’t simply drift along, waiting for your projects to make sense of themselves. Take control, make plans, and move towards them each day.
3. Pay Attention to People Who Have Succeeded. Just because someone else succeeded doesn’t mean you will. But it can provide a motivational example of path to your goal that has worked for someone else.
So, cast aside your doubts, stop telling yourself that you can’t do what others did–and instead take their examples for what they are: a source of inspiration and hope. And, most importantly, a means to get out of your slump.
4. Learn by Doing. If you’re faced with a complicated decision with no clear answer, one of the best ways you can move forward is to simply do, rather than thinking.
What do I mean by this? Instead of persevering on the decision, pick one of the options in front of you; and move forward with your best effort to make it work.
If you fail ultimately, at least you can eliminate that path as a dead-end and then move forward with the other path.
5. Avoid Over-thinking. Thinking hard and carefully about many things is critical to success, but if taken to an extreme, it can become pathological. It can paralyze talented, driven individuals; and prevent them from attaining the success they would otherwise have.
So, next time you find yourself paralyzed by a decision, stop over-analyzing the situation–and just pick one path or the other.
6. Re-organize Your Work Area. No matter what you do, it’s always a good idea to have everything you need organized and within close reach. Re-organize your work area, so that it is a productive environment, rather than a sprawling, disorganized heap of documents.
7. Start Afresh. One frequent source of slumps is boredom. If you’re unhappy with your current routine, it may affect your ability to work and to accomplish your goals. Consider switching your daily routine to something new that excites you and motivates you to accomplish new things.
8. Reward Yourself. Surprisingly, slumps are very common among those who work hard. Why? Because, eventually they hit a wall, can’t figure out how to get around it, and keep working until they’re thoroughly burnt out and frazzled.
So, don’t do this. Set specific goals, accomplish them, and then reward yourself by taking the rest of the night off to relax. When you come back to your work, you’ll be happy and refreshed.
9. Visit a New Place. Instead of mindlessly chugging along with your daily route, break free and visit a new place. Take a drive to the beach or to a lake. Take a walk through the woods. Drive somewhere new and relaxing. Experience the small pleasures in life to demonstrate to yourself that there are reasons to move forward, to make progress, and to indulge in life.
10. Refocus Yourself. Slumps tend to make life feel unclear, unfocused, and pointless. Take some time to refocus yourself, re-think your aspirations, and decide what goals to keep and what goals to discard.
11. Schedule Things, Rather than Letting Things Happen to You. Don’t allow your schedule to morph into an unpredictable, unmanageable blob. Take the time to record things you need to do, schedule them into your life, and tend to them carefully. This is not only a good way to prevent disasters, but also to commit yourself to getting work done.
12. Physical Activity. The cause of slumps is not always or entirely psychological. In many cases, complacency and a lack of physical exercise can leave us in a mental fog. One cure for this problem is to get some vigorous exercise. Not only will it get your blood pumping and make your thoughts clearer, but it will also release endorphins, making you feel happy and more satisfied with your life and goals.
13. Eliminate Negative Thoughts. Skepticism and self-doubt are healthy when applied in moderation, but when they prevent you from achieving your goals, it may be time to reign them in. If you constantly find yourself doubting that you an accomplish something, instead re-direct your thoughts towards considering how you can accomplish it.
14. Challenge Yourself to Accomplish Something New. If you find yourself repeating the same tasks on a daily basis, you may become bored and complacent. Find ways to challenge yourself–for instance, by seeing whether you can do some task in half the amount of time–so that you engage your work and goals, rather than becoming indifferent to them.
15. Create Artificial Scarcity. Most people work best when they have no other choice. When that project is due in two days, you buckle down, stay focused, and get it done. But one week before that, you probably sat in front of the computer, “working” on it, but truly got very little accomplished.
Next time, start on the project later, rather than sooner. Save that extra time when you wouldn’t really be working to do something fun and refreshing.
16. Change Your Diet. Another frequent cause of “slumps” is diet. If you find your busy schedule forcing you into an unhealthy diet that causes you to put on weight and feel sluggish, put an end to it immediately. Not only will this help you physically, but it will help you to avoid the mental and emotional burden that comes with weight gain and unhealthy eating.
17. Spend a Day to Improve Your Productivity. Hard work isn’t the only ingredient in success. Another critical component is productivity. You can think about productivity as the amount you accomplish in each hour. So, spend an afternoon or even a full day figuring out how you can be more productive. This might simply mean re-arranging your filing cabinet or learning how to use certain programs on your computer better.
18. Simplify Your Goals. It’s often easy to convince ourselves that our goals have to be complicated and hard to achieve. But it many cases, there are achievable, simple goals that are still very desirable. So, take some time to decide whether you can make your goals clearer, simpler, and easier to attain.
19. Take the Path of Least Resistance. Instead of taking the path you think you “should take” or “ought to take,” instead focus on what paths cause the fewest problems and present the fewest challenges. If you can find and exploit these paths, you’ll save yourself time and make it easier to finish what you set out to do.
20. Sleep More. Many hard-working individuals whip themselves up into a frenzy; and convince themselves that they should never stop working. When taken to an extreme, this can be very detrimental to their goals. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to go to sleep or to keep working late into the night. If you don’t sleep, you might get more done tonight, but you’ll definitely be tired and get less done tomorrow. So go to sleep and come back refreshed tomorrow.
21. Make an Effort to Learn from Others. Rather than always focusing on your own stories and struggles, make a concerted effort to truly understand other people and their daily trials. Learn from them, absorb their stories, and use them to motivate yourself.
No matter how depressed and indifferent you feel right now, you have the capabilities to break out of your slump. You have 21 different ways in which you can do it. It’s just a matter of taking a handful of them, living by them on a daily basis, and pushing forward.
So, don’t let your slump get the best of you. Reclaim your career, your family life, your goals, your aspirations, and your hunger for new and challenging experiences. Leave this slump in your past; and return to your productive, happy life.

What is Innovation?

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First published on FastCompany.com.Animated by the talented Rafa Galeano. seo data . ip info .

3M’s Open Innovation – Collaborative culture and innovation leadership

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Fred J. Palensky, chief technology officer at one of the world’s most innovative companies, explains how to foster the ongoing cross-pollination of ideas.

As part of Booz & Company’s annual study of the innovation strategies of the world’s highest-spending companies on R&D, the firm conducted a survey that asked senior innovation executives to vote for the world’s most innovative company. (See “The Global Innovation 1000: How the Top Innovators Keep Winning,” by Barry Jaruzelski and Kevin Dehoff, s+b.) The third most frequently cited innovation leader was 3M, right behind Apple and Google. That came as no surprise, given 3M’s track record of developing smart, successful new products.

3M’s ability to keep churning out new innovations is very much dependent on the company’s long-standing commitment to open innovation, both internal and external. We recently spoke with Fred J. Palensky, 3M’s chief technology officer, who discussed the many ways his company creates and develops ideas through open innovation, and explained why its highly collaborative culture and innovation leadership are essential to the process.

S+B: Can you describe how 3M’s open innovation processes are organized?
PALENSKY:
The reason 3M is what it is today — a company that has developed organically across consumer, electronic, transportation, industrial, safety, security and display, and electronic markets — is our shared, leveraged technology and innovation model. We assume that technologies and technological capabilities have no boundaries or barriers. Any product or manufacturing technology is available to any business in any industry in any geography around the world.

As the company’s senior technology executive, I’m responsible for the corporate research laboratories. I represent the entire technical community at 3M, which includes about 10,000 R&D people in 73 labs around the world. About 15 to 20 percent of those people work in corporate research, which is responsible for developing, transmitting, and supporting technologies throughout the company. I also head up the corporate technical operations committee, or CTOC, which ensures the development, health, sustainability, and transmission of 3M’s tech capabilities across all the businesses, geographies, and industries in which we operate.

We have 63 full-scale operating businesses in dozens of industries in more than 70 countries around the world. Each one of those businesses conducts its own research, while maintaining connections with all the other R&D operations throughout the company.

S+B: What enables the cross-pollination of ideas?
PALENSKY: We believe that no one business has everything it needs to conduct business in its marketplace without leveraging the rest of the company. So every single technical employee in the company has dual citizenship — they’re part of a particular business, lab, or country, and part of the 3M global technical community. We don’t restrict people from moving from one business to another, from one industry to another, or across country boundaries. Most of the people who run the businesses, the country offices, and the labs have been in five or six or 10 different parts of the company before. They’ve grown up inside the 3M culture. I myself have been at 3M for 34 years, and I’ve had 14 different jobs in five different industries and three different countries. I like to think of it as a movement of people and ideas that’s not mandated but officially endorsed.

S+B: 3M also has an active external open innovation program. Can you describe it?
PALENSKY: Our corporate labs are continually bringing in new employees and technologies from universities and other sources. And we collaborate closely with customers. We have 30 customer technology centers around the world, where our technical and marketing employees meet with customers and expose them to the full range of 3M technology platforms. We ask them what their technical issues, problems, and opportunities are, and whether any of 3M’s many different technologies can help them. The constant technical interaction is critical in creating new innovations.

S+B: Can you discuss a specific product that arose out of 3M’s open innovation process?
PALENSKY: Really, all of them. To take one example, we just introduced an entirely new kind of sandpaper — shaped, fine-grained, self-sharpening, structured abrasives. The mineral technology came from the abrasives division, some of the shape technology came from optical systems, coating technologies came from the tape division, and mathematical modeling and fracture analysis came from the corporate research center. Altogether, the abrasives division used seven different technologies to create the product, only two of which came from the division itself.

S+B: What role does culture play in sustaining open innovation at 3M?
PALENSKY: I think our success is driven much more by culture than it is by structure or organization. We’ve been practicing open innovation at 3M throughout our history. The company started out making sandpaper, and our salesmen sold our products to all kinds of people. When they visited auto-body shops, they watched workers struggle to paint fine lines and borders. So the salesmen went back to the office and talked about the problem. That was the beginning of our masking tape business. That’s the culture that has sustained us ever since.

But we also actively support that culture. All of our technical people at the corporate labs dedicate about 15 percent of their efforts toward programs, interactions, learning, and teaching in areas outside their particular responsibilities. In addition to the various programs we’re developing at the corporate labs, we are working on more than 300 joint programs with various divisions and businesses. So, in addition to their corporate responsibilities, everyone is also a member of a team that is working alongside division members in either technology transfer or new product development projects.

All of this creates a community of collaboration, and it ensures that everybody has some skin in the innovation game. And because our senior leaders have grown up in this culture, they continue to nurture and protect this highly collaborative, enterprising environment. Cultures are unique and extraordinarily difficult to duplicate. And it takes a real effort to sustain them.

strategy and business

Author Profiles:

  • Barry Jaruzelski is a partner with Booz & Company in Florham Park, N.J., and is the global leader of the firm’s innovation practice. He has spent more than 20 years working with high-tech and industrial clients on corporate and product strategy, product development efficiency and effectiveness, and the transformation of core innovation processes.
  • Richard Holman is a principal with Booz & Company based in Florham Park, N.J. He is a leader of the firm’s global innovation practice, specializing in fields with highly engineered products, such as aerospace, industrial, and high tech.
  • Edward Baker, former editor of CIO Insight magazine, is a contributing editor to strategy+business.
  • This interview was originally published as part of “Casting a Wide Net: Building the Capabilities for Open Innovation,” by Jaruzelski and Holman, Ivey Business Journal, March/April 2011.

Are the most effective leaders introverts or extraverts?

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Conventional wisdom tells us that leaders are the men and women who stand up, speak out, give orders, make plans and are generally the most dominant, outgoing people in a group.

But that is not always the case, according to new research on leadership and group dynamics from Wharton management professor Adam Grant and two colleagues, who challenge the assumption that the most effective leaders are extraverts.

Learn More > Analyzing Effective Leaders: Why Extraverts Are Not Always the Most Successful Bosses

costa rica . seo data ip info .

Get Your Brain More Creative

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Can you make yourself more creative?

According to Shelley Carson, author of the new book Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life, you can.

In a recent conversation with the Boston Globe, Carson, who has a PhD in psychology from Harvard University and teaches at Harvard Extension School, noted these three things: “In the business world, creativity is now the number-one quality that head hunters are looking for in top-level chief executives. Most of the elite business schools in the country now have courses on creativity, and many Fortune 500 companies have hired creativity consultants.”
It’s possible, she says, for creativity-challenged people to use “biofeedback programs and other types of cognitive behavioral research” to change brain activation patterns to “mimic the brain activation of highly creative people.”
“What we have found in recent years in the neuroscience of creativity is that highly creative people tend to activate certain neural patterns in their brain when they are solving a creative problem or doing creative work,” she told the Globe.
Creativity and control are closely linked, she says. “I subscribe to the cognitive disinhibition theory of creativity,” Carson said. “A lot of people are really afraid to turn down the volume on the executive function part of their brain. They want control over their cognitive awareness and their mental workspace. It’s very difficult for them to relinquish that control and say to the guys back there in research and development, throw at me what you’ve got.”
An interview with Carson posted at her website gives a little more detail about this idea that you can make your brain more open to new material:

What do you think are the greatest challenges for people who want to get more creative?
Everyone has a built-in censoring system in their brains that filters thoughts, images, and memories, and stimuli from the outside world before they reach conscious awareness. Our censoring system keeps us focused on our current goals and on information that prior learning has taught us is “appropriate.” Learning to loosen up this mental filtering system to allow more novel ideas and stimuli into conscious awareness is one of the biggest challenges for people who don’t think of themselves as creative. In Your Creative Brain, I provide a lot of information on how to loosen the censoring system so that ideas can flow more fluently.

Does every brain really have the potential to be creative?
Yes! While it’s true that some brains are naturally more inclined toward creative ideation than others, all brains have a marvelous ability to continually change and develop. Research has shown that people who are naturally highly creative can switch between various brain activation patterns more easily than those who are less naturally creative. However, this is a skill that can be practiced and learned. Although it may not make an Einstein out of everyone, practice and exercise can definitely make any brain more creative.

Thinking Ahead Visions: The Leadership Circle

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“Leaders get the best out of followers and followers get the best out of leaders,” says Manfred Kets De Vries, Clinical Professor of Leadership Development at INSEAD.

The connection between leaders and their staff is only one of many circular connections he sees.

The challenge for leaders multiplies as organisations get bigger and as globalisation makes companies more diverse and more virtual.  “It’s very hard to manage large organisations, things become so enormous,” he said in an interview with INSEAD Knowledge.
Another circular challenge for leaders is to keep an organisation growing over generations. “To me, the real test of a leader is how well his or her successor does, and very few leaders pass that test,” he says.
Leaders have to help people re-invent their organisations. Kets De Vries imagines this as an ancient mythical serpent that swallows its tail but is constantly reborn in a circular connection.
To complete that circle, leaders are required to leverage their vision and their skills to create sustainable, results-oriented organisations. He believes group or team coaching is one of the most effective ways of achieving that long-term success.
Kets De Vries, the Director of INSEAD’s Global Leadership Centre, recently won a lifetime achievement award from the International Leadership Association for his contributions to the study of leadership. It was the first time the prestigious organisation had given the awards.
His extensive work in coaching business leaders has led him to believe that leaders need greater self-awareness: “Many executives don’t know themselves very well.” Some know the issues but they don’t know how to shift direction. Kets De Vries says for those executives it’s very difficult to set the right goals and get people to buy into your values and goals.
“Leaders need to help people think outside of the box,” he says, adding:  “When you are riding on a dead horse the best thing is to dismount. Many people try to keep on riding the dead horse, but you have to do something different.”

That requires teams of good leaders not just a single strong executive in any successful organisation. “Leadership is a team sport,” he says. That team needs to have clear goals and values. The leadership teams that are most successful know how to get people to buy into those values and practice those values.
Leaders, he believes, should strive to create better places to work. Kets De Vries argues that isn’t just an altruistic notion. Work today is complicated by rapidly changing technology, virtual working teams separated by cultural and geographical differences and the challenges for individuals of managing their own careers.
Workers want jobs that make them want to come to work everyday and that should be an important goal for any executive.
Leaders who make a deep connection with their employees will succeed, he says.  They lead in ways that are symbolic – as well as literal – to create organisations where people feel like they can and should do their best.
“You have to get people’s hearts and minds and get them to buy into the DNA of an organisation,” he says.

3 Paths to Open Innovation

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To build your capabilities and cast a wider net for ideas, you must figure out which of the three types of innovation strategies you already have — and design your R&D approach accordingly.

 

Finding and developing good ideas is what corporate innovation strategy is all about. That’s why the concept referred to as open innovation has dominated so many discussions about research and development during the past decade. The logic is unassailable: Every company and every line of business within a company can benefit from looking outside its organizational boundaries for innovative business ideas, for collaboration in developing those ideas, and for validation of those ideas in the real world of consumers. It is nearly impossible to be consistently smarter than the rest of the world; tapping into new sources of business ideas can be a powerful exercise for overcoming this challenge.

Moreover, the benefits of actively pursuing open innovation have been clearly demonstrated. Booz & Company’s research shows that companies with robust open innovation capabilities — including strong technology-scouting practices and cross-boundary collaboration — are seven times as effective as firms with weak capabilities, and twice as effective as those with moderate capabilities, in generating returns on their overall R&D project investment portfolio. Some companies, most notably Procter & Gamble, have maintained leadership in their industries through renowned open innovation strategies, building links between inside groups and outsiders such as customers, inventors, academics, and even competitors.

But many companies have embraced open innovation only to conclude that it doesn’t work for them. Often they take it on as a panacea for innovation ills. They then discover that putting processes in place to find, capture, and commercialize business ideas, and creating a corporate culture that promotes and protects collaboration, are not easy tasks. The problem is not the concept: Good ideas can be found outside the R&D lab, and this type of research and development strategy can be made to work. The primary problem is not even the “not invented here” form of innovation culture that is blamed for blocking outside ideas in many companies. In truth, many companies are willing to build an innovation culture that is open to the ideas of outsiders, but it isn’t always obvious how to make the shift.

The basic problem is the isolation between open innovation and a company’s current R&D strategy. Most companies already have a basic, ingrained approach to innovation, tied tightly not just to generating ideas (which is comparatively easy) but to developing and executing them (which is the hard, value-creating part of innovation). In short, if you are looking to build an open innovation practice, it will work only when you match your company’s efforts to look outside with the capabilities you already have on the inside. To do that, you must recognize the kind of R&D system you already have in place — and treat it as your strategic core.

A Trio of R&D Strategies

Every year, Booz & Company surveys data on R&D spending and performance for 1,000 publicly held companies around the world — those with the highest annual budgets. This study, the “Global Innovation 1000,” has yielded a number of insights about the best way to design an innovation strategy. Among them is the recognition that successful companies tend to choose one of three distinct approaches. They become Need Seekers, Technology Drivers, or Market Readers, and that choice, in turn, determines how they can succeed.

A Need Seeker strategy directly engages current and potential customers to better capture their unarticulated needs, shapes new products and services, and strives to make the company the first to market with those new offerings. An example is Stanley Black & Decker Inc.’s DeWalt division, a maker of power tools for professionals, which regularly sends members of its R&D group out to construction sites to research builders’ needs, observe construction crews in action, and test new products with them.

A Technology Driver strategy follows the direction suggested by the company’s technological capabilities, leveraging its investment in research and development to drive both breakthrough innovation and incremental change, often seeking to solve customers’ unarticulated needs with new technology. An example is the German technology giant Siemens AG, which spends 5 percent of its overall R&D budget on planning for the long term, and develops detailed technology road maps within individual business units.

A Market Reader strategy monitors customers and competitors with equal care, but the company maintains a more cautious approach, focusing largely on creating value through incremental change and being a “fast follower” of proven concepts. An example is the Visteon Corporation, which conducts well-designed research into market trends before investing in new innovations — such as reconfigurable digital displays for cars — but is prepared to move with full force and rapid speed when it discovers demand.

Research suggests that the three strategies deliver comparable financial success if tightly aligned with a company’s overall business strategy. But it also demonstrates that each of these innovation models requires a distinct set of innovation capabilities to succeed. (See Exhibit 1.)

In light of these findings, companies that develop the appropriate innovation strategy must align it with their overall corporate goals and assemble a cohesive set of capabilities to gain a clear financial advantage. The key isn’t to be good at everything, but rather to excel at what matters most to your success.

That’s why open innovation is a critical capability only for Need Seekers and Technology Drivers. These companies rely on being early to market, with innovations rooted in either the latest technology or new customer insight. Need Seekers are continuously looking for ideas, often from customers, to drive incremental improvements in their products as well as to spur entirely new offerings. Technology Drivers depend heavily on developing new, often untested, technologies that can be converted into products. Their success depends not just on importing fresh ideas from a wide variety of sources, but also on ensuring that the products that they do go on to develop will ultimately succeed in the marketplace.

And Market Readers? These companies have built their strategy around a fast-follower model. They should focus on being strong in other capabilities, particularly in the stages of product development and commercialization.

Establishing Open Execution

Few companies have the wherewithal to develop enough new products and services to keep growing in an increasingly competitive business climate. One thing is certain: A scattershot approach to open innovation will not succeed. If you are seriously interested in open innovation, you will need to establish a systematic process for capturing the best ideas, whether from within or outside your company, and focus on the specific set of capabilities needed to capture, develop, and commercialize the good ideas that surface. Open innovation, like any key capability, can keep you one step ahead of the competition, but only if it is approached with rigor and seriousness of purpose.

Reaping the full benefits of open innovation is no easy task, especially for companies that have yet to venture into this often complex and tricky domain. We typically divide the effort into five activity areas, which are addressed concurrently: organization, external relationships, culture, processes and tools, and incentives.

Organization. No open innovation effort will succeed without the involvement of a senior-level executive to champion the program. An innovation office with access to a dedicated innovation fund should be established under his or her auspices. The office’s mission should be to seek out new ideas, and the office should put together two kinds of teams: some dedicated to developing and managing relationships with external partners; others, chosen from different business units, to organize cross-functional innovation processes.

External relationships. The key to successful open innovation lies in establishing strong relationships with outside partners — whether they be universities, other companies, or even independent inventors and consumers — and developing systematic processes for surfacing and vetting ideas. Adequate intellectual property (IP) policies must be agreed on, policies that allow for the proper licensing of external ideas and make clear the conditions under which external partners can use that IP. But it is critical to ensure that such protections are not allowed to become legal handcuffs that restrict opportunities via an excessive aversion to risk.

Culture. Promoting open innovation may present a set of internal challenges. Companies that struggle to innovate, especially Technology Drivers, tend to lack a truly collaborative cross-functional environment. Success depends on fostering a culture that expects and rewards the free exchange of ideas across divisions and geographies, making it easy to disseminate ideas and gain access to ideas from other groups. You can’t do this by fiat; a decree that “from now on, we will be open to new ideas and experimentation” will be ignored. To build a collaborative culture and move away from the not-invented-here syndrome, start by changing behaviors; attitudes will follow. Companies that do this well have typically established a team for designing new practices. For example, the team might design and establish an active internal venture capital investment scheme, to review ideas quickly and then move right away to vetting and acting upon them if they are worthwhile. This in itself will give innovators better reasons to share their ideas.

Processes and tools. Companies that make the most of open innovation are highly disciplined in their own use of technology, and in their process innovation. They communicate frequently and use consistent processes, backed up with simple, flexible IT tools, to track new ideas, select the best ideas, manage the development stage, and link R&D with other functions such as marketing and manufacturing. Some companies are turning to social media tools to promote internal and external collaboration.

Incentives. Once discovered, good ideas need to be captured effectively. Creating solutions that benefit both you and your partners is critical to successfully developing external ideas. Internal budgets for divisions and functions should be tied in part to those areas’ innovation efforts, as should individual incentives. This will require a process for developing and tracking key innovation metrics.

Each of the three types of companies has its own approach to these activities, and gains leverage from them in a different way. For example, Need Seekers may convene cross-functional groups that can integrate their separate ideas into common innovation practices. That might not work so well for Technology Drivers, which are typically working with highly specialized and intensive R&D practices, and which may need intensive ways to train their marketing teams and bring them on board (and which may have outsourced manufacturing altogether). Although the details will vary, the basic message is clear: Companies have an enormous amount to gain from open innovation. They will, however, realize those gains only if they think of this new approach as an innate part of their distinctive R&D skill — a capability that, in the end, gives them a distinctive edge.

strategy and business

Author Profiles:

  • Barry Jaruzelski is a partner with Booz & Company based in Florham Park, N.J., and is the global leader of the firm’s innovation practice. He focuses on the high-technology and industrial sectors, and specializes in corporate and product strategy.
  • Richard Holman is a Booz & Company principal based in Florham Park, N.J., and a leader of the firm’s innovation practice. He specializes in highly engineered product industries such as aerospace and high technology.
  • This article was adapted from “Casting a Wide Net: Building the Capabilities for Open Innovation,” (PDF) by Barry Jaruzelski and Richard Holman, Ivey Business Journal, March/April 2011.

What is the case? Is this the end of globalisation?

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Evidence of the end of globalisation is building up.
According to Satyajit Das, growth in trade and cross border investment, which has underpinned prosperity and development, is being reversed in a major historical shift.

 (more…)

The Case for Performance Reviews

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How Performance Reviews Pay Off

Sometimes, the least productive workers will bounce back the most.

Title: Driven by Social Comparisons: How Feedback about Coworkers’ Effort Influences Individual Productivity (PDF)

Authors: Francesca Gino (Harvard Business School) and Bradley R. Staats (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

This paper examines the impact of performance reviews on productivity, and finds that feedback delivered on a regular basis, whether positive or negative, tends to result in improved performance. On a short-term basis, though, the impact varies, sometimes in ways that are counter-intuitive: Positive reviews, for example, do little to boost productivity, and negative reviews that are somewhat vague and indirect cause performance to fall off, but reviews that are directly negative cause productivity to leap. The research offers guidance to managers concerning the pitfalls and potential benefits in framing their messages in reviews, and suggests there is a need to provide feedback on a frequent basis.

In an ideal scenario, employees would be evaluated through the use of objective standards, but as the researchers point out, in organizational settings this is rarely possible. Instead, the very nature of performance feedback promotes what they call social comparison processes, as employees are informed about their performance relative to that of their co-workers. In this study, employees were not told their exact ranking, or that of their co-workers, but were informed where they stood in relation to either the “bottom 10” or “top 10” in terms of productivity.

The researchers conducted their experiment at APLUS, the consumer finance subsidiary of Shinsei Bank, a medium-sized Japanese bank. The 70 employees in the study performed largely repetitive tasks: They entered information from customer applications into a central data system. Their salary was not linked to their performance, and they had no specific goals to meet, which enabled the researchers to weigh the effects of performance feedback in an incentive-free context.

At the beginning of the monthlong study, the workers were split into three groups. One received negative feedback on a daily basis, a second received positive feedback on a daily basis, and the third, acting as the control group, received no feedback. The groups were randomly chosen without regard to past performance — in fact, none of the workers had ever before received a performance review from the company. Over the course of the month, the researchers analyzed more than 480,000 data-entering transactions performed by the three groups. By tracking the completion times and accuracy of the employees’ efforts, the researchers were able to measure daily changes in productivity for each of the workers.

Employees in the “negative” group were told they fell into the bottom 10 if, in fact, that was the case that day (what the researchers called direct feedback) or that they were not in the bottom 10 (an indirect approach that implied poor performance). In other words, even the best-performing employees in the negative group would get indirect negative feedback and know only that they were not ranked near the bottom. Similarly, employees in the “positive” group were told that they ranked in the top 10 or that they were not in the top 10.

On a day-to-day basis, the researchers found that neither form of positive feedback had much effect on productivity. Bad reviews, however, carried far more significance. When workers first received direct negative feedback, their performance jumped 13.6 percent, on average, the next day. But when employees first received an indirect negative review, they faltered, dropping an average of 17 percent in productivity the following day. ip info . The difference, say the researchers, is that those in the bottom 10 were motivated to improve by the shame they felt, whereas those who were not in the bottom 10 simply felt relief.

In the long term, however, all forms of the performance feedback used in the study helped. The researchers found that both groups receiving feedback boosted their performance over the course of the month in comparison with the control group; the positive group’s productivity was up approximately 20 percent and the negative group’s about 30 percent. So although couching an employee’s performance review in positive terms may not make a difference the next day, it will over time. And whereas giving an employee indirect negative feedback can hurt performance in the short term, over the long term it’s still better than no criticism at all.

The researchers acknowledge that the study’s setting — a Japanese bank — may raise questions about whether the results are widely applicable. Because reputation and saving face are particularly important in Japan, employees there might react more strongly to criticism than workers in other societies. But the authors point out that the feedback was private and did not include specific rankings. In addition, because the company had no history of laying off employees for inadequate performance and offered no bonuses for working harder, the researchers could focus solely on the effects of the feedback itself. These two factors make the findings relevant beyond Japan, the researchers say. The researchers also believe the findings are applicable beyond job settings that are highly routine and quantifiable.

The results show that although regular feedback can improve worker performance over time, the pace of change can vary. Managers shouldn’t expect to see an immediate increase in productivity from their best workers. As for the rest, indirect praise isn’t likely to produce an immediate uptick, and indirect criticism may actually make things worse for a while. Telling underperforming employees that they are in the bottom segment — which, of course, could be defined more broadly than the “bottom 10” — offers the best chance of getting a quick and dramatic improvement.

Bottom Line:
Managers should consistently tell their employees where they stand: Whether presented in positive or negative terms, feedback tends to improve performance over time. In the short term, the biggest improvement may come from workers who are told they are in the bottom rankings.

Publisher: Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 11-078

Strategy Execution in times of Uncertainty

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In this unpredictable economic climate, leaders must be capable to lead their companies to quickly adapt to new market forces. Business models are changing to catch up with the emerging drivers of competition.

Success hinges first and foremost on “Thinking-Ahead” strategy  and robust execution.
Because execution plays such a critical role in success or failure, especially during a crisis, many companies are turning to new technology solutions to ensure they can deliver on strategies and emerge even stronger. Any company that fails to adapt quickly and efficiently to market changes can miss important opportunities or risk their very survival.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • A new strategy is not enough – executing under these extreme market conditions is not enough, meaning you need to make sure you touch every point of the strategy timeline and product offering.
  • Align your workforce with what you want to accomplish – workforce alignment and performance is critical.
  • Be prepared to change course or rethink your strategy monthly – it is difficult to get your strategy right the first time so review religiously.
  • Leverage performance and talent management solutions for business execution – this will help you attain the top and bottom line results.
    * Key points from Workforce Magazine

seo data . ip info .

How IT can play a key role in developing corporate strategy

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Charlie Feld, the former CIO of Frito-Lay and a pioneer in his field, explains how IT can play a key role in developing corporate strategy.

Charles (“Charlie”) Feld began his career in information technology leadership at IBM in 1966, back in the days of the mainframe and whirring tape drives, when IT was separated from the rest of the business by the proverbial glass wall. Since then, he has seen vast changes in both the technology that underpins how businesses operate and in how IT and its relationship with the business are managed. He has contributed greatly to those changes, most notably as CIO of Frito-Lay Inc. in the 1980s, where he pioneered the use of wireless handheld devices that enabled delivery people to constantly update sales figures from the road. Today, he is a leading advocate of the evolution of IT from a provider of services to an enabler of overall strategy, especially when innovative uses of technology can transform the way a business operates.
Following his work at Frito-Lay, Feld developed a general framework for IT-enabled business transformation. This led to his founding of a consultancy called the Feld Group in 1992 (it was subsequently purchased by EDS in 2004, became part of Hewlett-Packard Company in 2008, and is now independent again). That framework, and its related management techniques, has been the basis of his approach ever since, and it forms the basis of his new book, Blind Spot: A Leader’s Guide to IT-Enabled Business Transformation (Olive Press, 2010). The Feld Group’s research arm, called the Center for IT Leadership, has championed a strategic role for IT in business transformation, and the role of the CIO as a leader in that transformation. This view of IT leadership is validated by experience at companies as diverse as BNSF Railway, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, WellPoint, and CBS.
Feld’s ideas have particular resonance today. As computing infrastructure and interface design continue to evolve, it is crucial for IT leaders to find a viable pattern for strong leadership, to build their own leadership capabilities, and ultimately, to ensure that their specialized knowledge is integrated with real-world experience in multiple aspects of the business.
Feld recently sat down with strategy+business to discuss a wide-ranging set of topics, including his transformation framework, the proper career path for CIOs, and how to encourage top executives to mentor the leaders of the future.
S+B: What was your purpose in writing Blind Spot?
FELD:
My goal was to reenergize the dialogue around the strategic role of the chief information officer. I wanted to help CIOs and their counterparts throughout the executive team who are currently working on IT-enabled transformations. And I wanted to continue my contribution to the creation of the next generation of IT leaders. I believe that IT leadership will be one of the most exciting and critical corporate roles of the next 20 years.
Companies have tried taking their best technicians and putting them in charge of IT. That has worked, but only in some cases. They’ve also tried taking the best business executives and putting them in charge, and that has been spotty, at best. There is no simple solution. World-class CIOs must excel at the intersection of business and IT. In other words, they must become true renaissance leaders.
Many executives are beginning to develop a passion for this intersection. However, there’s no generally accepted framework in business and IT for learning, assessing, and measuring IT results, as there are in professions such as engineering, manufacturing, and finance. The CIO profession is still relatively new, and each individual learns on the job, through trial and error.
At the same time, technology has matured phenomenally over the last 50 years — much more rapidly than other functions. To go from wired boards to the kind of stuff we have now in just 50 years is spectacular. But the framework that businesses now need to harness, leverage, and manage this new type of IT — for communicating its potential, measuring its value, and making sure they get results — has not developed at the same pace at most companies.

Business leaders see Google and iPhones in use in their personal lives. They see really bright consultants, offshore firms, and software engineers developing powerful new tools. But when they go to their offices, they’re living with 30-year-old technology. They can’t understand why they can’t have what they see outside. These same business leaders would certainly understand the investment of time and money required to modernize their fleet or manufacturing equipment, as well as the benefits of doing so. But there is a lack of understanding about what is required to modernize IT systems. Instead, the CIO often gets berated. That is a common blind spot.
Being closely connected with business strategy is critically important. At Frito-Lay, we developed our own framework for IT-related change projects. It was based on the notion that we had to justify anything we did with IT in terms of the company’s overall strategy. We had to specify how we would use it, what it meant for the business, and how we would manage it. This was before people used words like alignment.
Driving Change through IT
S+B: What did your framework consist of?
FELD:
It was built around four basic questions for leaders who are using IT to drive change: Why? (Why do anything?) What? (What will we do?) How? (How will we do it?) and Who? (Who will lead and manage the change?). It took a couple of years to develop the framework at Frito-Lay and several years to execute the transformation. (See Exhibit 1.)

The first stage, strategy, typically lasts about 90 days. You articulate a future-state plan and assess the skills, structures, and leadership abilities within the IT and technology group. You proceed from there in a very structured way, in 90-day increments, to planning the details and repositioning the organization — a stage we called the turn — to getting up and running with the new way of working, to hitting your stride and accelerating the change, and then to industrializing the new approach. The goal is to have the organization’s “muscle memory” rewired in order to accelerate results with consistency over time.
The framework worked great at Frito-Lay. The culture at Frito-Lay was very professional. Everybody in the company, including the executive team, grew up with this kind of discipline, structure, and culture. As new people came in, they learned and embraced it. We accomplished some really good things. But I didn’t know if what we had done and how we had done it at Frito-Lay were generally applicable to other businesses.
When I left in 1992 and started my own firm, the Feld Group, I convinced myself that just about any smart business executive at any company would understand the framework. And for the most part, IT people understood the principles. We started sharing this with companies and building teams of four or five highly skilled and experienced people from the Feld Group to help. That proved that the framework was generally applicable if executed and championed by a few strong IT leaders. It was successful, but not very scalable.
My mission now is to convey my experiences, ideas, and framework in a way that’s much more scalable. I’d like to do that by enabling current business and IT leaders to think and lead in ways that I’ve found to be effective and by helping to develop the next generation of business and IT leadership. My focus will be an open source approach — collaborative, open, and focused on enabling others. In other words, the model has IT leaders building and improving the framework, helping each other by expanding the body of learning from our first 40 years.

S+B: Do you see this kind of framework as applicable to any functional business problem, or is it strictly for IT?
FELD:
The point is to enable CIOs to make their role wider. They must think of themselves, and be thought of by others in their organization, as a systems leader and an integrator, not just a technology leader. I know this is subtle, but it’s a critical difference required for them to help their companies realize the potential that IT could have if they use it well.
Both executive teams and IT organizations themselves have, in many cases, given up on the notion that IT is really important. They’re in the Nick Carr camp and believe “IT Doesn’t Matter” [the title of Carr’s May 2003 Harvard Business Review article about the commoditization of computer capabilities], and believe that you can just outsource information technology, forget about it, and it will be fine.
S+B: You’re suggesting that as companies outsource their computer systems and lower investments, the distinctive value of IT has diminished. It becomes a utility, just keeping the lights on.
FELD:
And unfortunately, this kind of thinking doesn’t come to grips with the realities of growth: that a 21st-century business model requires a modern systems model. Customers demand it, operational excellence leverages it, and speed and innovation require it. If your company has been around for 40 years, unless you’ve been on a transformational journey for both business and IT, your systems evolution will leave you with a level of complexity in your data, interfaces, and platforms that makes IT slow and expensive. Therefore, if you want some new features, the cost and speed-to-market are a disadvantage. There is nothing quick about these systems. And customers hate dealing with your complexity.
The ideas that got us to this state weren’t bad. They were the best ideas of their time. You can go through the history of your system, and see why its designers did what they did. That was simply the state of the art in the 1980s and 1990s. Senior executives can be frustrated, but they need to understand the context that got us there.
S+B: How should today’s CIO at a Fortune 500 company build a case for transformation now?
FELD:
To some extent, it depends on the situation. This framework can be used in a turnaround situation, in a moment of big business change (like a merger or a bankruptcy), or in an effort to take the business and IT to the next level. It’s easier for a new CIO, who can say, “Look, let’s establish where we are so that we can measure our progress.” A CIO who has been there for 10 years probably won’t have the same opportunity and will have to make a stronger move.
The first step is to establish a clear view of your current state. What is it about this system that impedes your speed-to-market, desired customer experience, economics, or supply chain leverage? You have to ask and answer the question, Why do anything? To justify the future, you’ve got to be able to describe the end state you could construct if you were unconstrained. That gives you an answer to the question, “What will we do?” If you have an honest and accurate assessment of the current state, a compelling “why,” and a vision for “what” you could build, you can begin to change the dialogue about IT in a matter of months.
In every company I’ve seen, people have been willing to spend money. But they’re not always spending it right. If somebody wrote you a check for $1 billion, you still couldn’t rip the old system out and replace it all at once. Even if you’re implementing a big transformational system, you need to do it in phases. So the “how” becomes the next part of the dialogue. In a way, it’s like urban renewal. You’ve got to connect it back to everything else because you’ve got to live in the city while you’re rebuilding it.

S+B: It sounds like the timing is governed by the business itself — the ability of the business to absorb the change, or the business need.
FELD:
Or the affordability. Here is a way to think about an IT transformation. If I outsourced my IT and freed up 20 percent of my spending, I’d reinvest it. I wouldn’t just take it off the table. Therefore, unless you have a context — a place to go and an idea of what to reinvest in — within which to have this conversation with the executive committee and the board, you are probably just cutting costs.
However, if you have a multiyear plan, you will get closer to your vision each year. In fact, you’d be amazed at what you can get done in two to four years. From there, you will need to sustain and build on this success. You do this by industrializing the new way of doing things and by periodically reviewing and recalibrating your strategy. This will move you forward, toward a continuous renewal strategy, much as you would experience with your plant and fleet equipment.
S+B: How does a CIO gain the credibility to lead this way?
FELD:
First of all, I believe that chief information officer is a misleading title. The role is not just about information or technology. It’s about systems and integration. You could still call it the “CIO,” but the mental model should be “chief integration officer.” The most important skills are to be a systems thinker and to be able to see the system that is the company.
This is made difficult by the tactical pressure of today’s business environment. Projects are in many cases an endless stream of work orders coming from the middle of the organization. You are constantly driven to build functional solutions, which inevitably don’t fit together. In an airline, for instance, if you optimize the gate schedules you cause problems in maintenance. If you optimize maintenance, you cause problems in flight ops. Whose job is it, if not the COO’s and the CIO’s, to make sure the whole system works — for customers, for employees, and for shareholders? In many cases, fixing the “seams” between functions gives you more value than fixing problems in any individual department.
A good way to think about systems thinking was articulated in Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization [Doubleday/Currency, 1990]. When things get complicated, you can learn through analysis — breaking down the problem into digestible components. But, as things get faster and more complex still, you have to learn from dynamics — seeing how the patterns evolve over time. To be a good IT systems person, you’ve got to have experience and an analytical mind, but to be a great IT leader, you’ve also got to be able to see dynamic patterns. Otherwise, you’ll keep building structures and programs that don’t connect to the larger ecosystem of your company: including customers, employees, suppliers, partners, and others.
Career Path for a Visionary CIO
S+B: You’re implying that the CIO needs to be a visionary who can convince people of the value of a bold direction.
FELD:
This is a big, exciting, difficult, and critical role, pivotal to the future of large companies. I think about two major groups I’d like to help with this challenge and opportunity — the business and IT leaders who are in place today, and the future generation of leaders for whom the challenges could be even bigger down the road.
If I had a CIO role in a major enterprise today, I’d certainly be reaching out for help and collaboration. No matter how good you have been or think you are, things are changing so rapidly that good executives need to be open to others’ ideas, frameworks, tools, and experiences, and must constantly strive to develop their leaders. This type of 21st-century mind-set will help them in their jobs, help their departments, help their companies, and help the profession of CIOs.

A lot of smart and driven people are in position to take leadership. But again, this is hard, mission-critical stuff. Our profession is still young, and it lacks the necessary framework and truly strategic best practices. I think we can change that over the next decade.
The bigger challenge, and perhaps the bigger impact over time, lies in the development of the next generation of leaders — both on the business side and in IT leadership roles. We need versatile, multidisciplinary, multicultural leaders who can think strategically about systems and patterns and who can take leadership of an organization and drive execution.
If you’re at a company that doesn’t develop this sort of leader deliberately, you need to foster that effort more deliberately. In most companies, people come into the IT function and stay there for 20 years, as opposed to being moved about and given different experiences and a wider aperture. You’ve got to make investments in future high-potential leaders.
There are only two things you can’t teach people: IQ and a work ethic. People either have them or they don’t. But you can improve people’s contributions by improving their experiences and their perspective. The challenge is to take really bright people who know a lot, who work hard and are frustrated, and open them up to new experiences. Things look different from different angles.
If you want to get people to understand the business of a railroad, put them in the yards. Not as a management trainee; let them go work in the yard. If you’re at Home Depot, let your high-potential people work in the store for a couple of years. Make investments in them. If you have a really good young business leader in the planning department, put him or her in IT to learn the technology. Think of the role of IT and the development of your people as a whole system. Culture, performance, and leadership are all interwoven.
S+B: Can you illustrate this idea of talent development within an IT context?
FELD:
Sure. If somebody is a mainframe information management systems developer working on the distribution system for 20 years, he or she is not going to have a broad enough perspective to be an IT leader. If you want to improve the capabilities of such people, you’ve got to give them more and different experiences. You have to plan their career cycle — what you assign them to and how you control their movement — particularly if they’re high performers with high potential. If they’ve been working on operational systems for two years, they need to work on customer systems next.
Tom Nealon, now the CIO of JCPenney, used to be the CIO of Southwest Airlines. Before that, he was the CIO at Frito-Lay. When he joined Frito-Lay out of college, he spent a couple of years in computer operations, then four or five in systems development, and a couple of years in systems engineering. Then Tom moved out of IT on a round trip to the financial planning department for two years. Within 10 years, he had developed into a well-rounded leader who had seen the business from different places. He’d been a user, so now he knew why IT frustrates people. He’d been in operations, so he knew what a poorly designed system looks like, and what to do when you get a call in the middle of the night and there’s no documentation. It made him better at everything. At 32 years old, Tom was ready to become a vice president. By his mid-30s, he was Frito’s CIO.
If you’re in an organization where talent management, performance management, recruiting, and project staffing are all integrated into a vibrant workforce management system, you can have a great career progression without moving from one company to another.To make this work, you’ve got to have a culture in which team leaders are willing to let people go and are proud of the fact that the next technical leader or vice president may emerge from their part of the company. In addition, you have to back that up with muscle. If you, as a business leader, try to take someone from a team to get this broader experience, and the team leader says, “You can’t have them. I don’t have a replacement for them,” you have to be able to say, ”OK, you’ve got another six months. But after that, this person’s moving.” It should be a badge of honor for an executive to have developed a lot of people around the company.
You also need a model for high-performing technical specialists who love what they do as part of a team. Not everyone wants to be the CIO. Great teams are the source of great execution and innovation. You need a culture in which people feel that what’s most important is whether the company wins or loses. Most people want to do well because of their peer relationships, not because of their bonuses. If you’re a database or a security specialist and you’ve got application teams depending on you, you don’t want to let them down. That’s a cultural thing.S+B: Are you suggesting that individual incentives don’t work?
FELD:
They are part of it, but not the main factor. You also need team-oriented incentives. Companies should base a large percentage of senior leaders’ performance reviews on how they lead, manage, and develop people. You sometimes have to base half their bonus on these factors at the beginning, to get their attention. They still get a pay increase if they deliver their projects. But, if you’re an executive, and the company has to keep looking outside for new people because you haven’t developed your team, then why should you get a bonus? For sure, you’re expected to get your projects done. But what assets did you leave behind?S+B: In summary, what is your outlook for the IT profession? You have a lot of knowledge and optimism. But we all know CIOs face big challenges today and going forward.
FELD:
The reason I am optimistic about the future of the contribution of CIOs and IT in general in the 21st century is that successful businesses and governments will require modern IT systems and technology. Therefore, the demand for business and IT leadership is becoming critical. I also believe that the supply of highly talented, energetic young people will continue to increase. People who have grown up in an always-on world will have a passion to be the builders of the future. The need is to leverage the knowledge gained during the first 40 years of this young profession and help accelerate their experiences. My personal goal is to contribute in any way I can.

strategy and business

Author Profiles:

  • Mike Cooke is a partner with Booz & Company based in Chicago. He focuses on information technology strategy and effectiveness in the automotive, aircraft, and consumer products industries.
  • Edward Baker, a longtime business and technology journalist, is a contributing editor of strategy+business.

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Staying Creative Under Pressure

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John Baldoni  a leadership consultant,and author of eight books, including Lead Your Boss, The Subtle Art of Managing Up, contests that creating urgency to save a sinking ship is imperative. Working long hours to do so is also critical, but working day after day for months on end without a break is a bad idea. When a team is crashing on a deadline, pulling together can be energizing. But when there is no deadline in sight, the long hours exact vengeance in the form of loss of energy as well as diminished commitment. Managers do not become more creative by working harder; they burnout more quickly. You need give people a break from the day to day flow of work.

Here are some suggestions for sustaining performance under pressure…

Set standards. The team leader must make it clear that during the crisis people are expected to assume a greater work load. The leader sets the example by taking more than his fair share of the work. Part of that work means being there for his team. At the same time, the leader does not need to decide how individuals must work. Often employees can decide how best to do their jobs. For example, mandatory meetings are fine, but every meeting need not be mandatory.
Get a buddy. One way to work smarter is to do what I have seen efficient organizations do. Team up with a co-worker to cover for you, not simply on vacations but also during times you will be out of the office. If your buddy is junior to you, then it can be a development opportunity. The leader can also buddy with a colleague or boss to stand in for him, too. Many organizations preach team as in collaboration but too few take advantage of treating teammates as partners. You can do more when individuals work together.
Mandate fresh air time. Get out of the office from time to time. This can be as simple as going out for lunch, or taking a walk in the afternoon. Clock time in the gym, too. Fitness is essential for tackling a heavy workload. The leader also sets the tone by making time for himself. When the team sees the boss taking a break (mental or physical), it gives the team permission to do likewise. Without the leader’s example, no one will follow through on making time for self.
Clocking long hours is not reserved for the corporate suite. Working in government, or even in the highest office in the land — the White House — can be grueling. President Obama vowed to make his administration family friendly, but as his chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel quips, “It’s friendly to your [Obama] family.” As a result many staffers, as reported in the New York Times, are feeling stressed chiefly because they miss time with their families. Continued long stretches of working extraordinary hours will cause talented people to leave early.
Taking breaks is not the same as doing business as usual. It is an acknowledgement that people are your most valuable resource. They need rest and relaxation as well as an opportunity to reconnect with their families. Rather than diminish urgency, it heightens it. Getting outside of the bubble of work allows the mind and body to recharge and be better prepared to face the gauntlet of challenges that lie ahead.