In 100 Words: Success Anomalies

November 1st, 2018 by AdvisorCatalyst

Success anomalies are difficult, if not impossible, to replicate. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop leaders from attempting to repeat a success without first verifying a pattern exists. This over-confidence can result in large investments that don’t return. Organizations can have success anomalies and then stumble as leaders try to repeat past performance in important areas such as:

• Entering new markets
• Hiring senior level people
• Making acquisitions (statistically, the majority fail to deliver expected results).

Make significant investments only where there are clear patterns of positive outcomes. In other cases, make guarded resource commitments since you could be building on an anomaly.

“Everything has its limit – iron ore cannot be educated into gold.” Mark Twain

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In 100 Words: Pattern or Anomaly?

September 14th, 2018 by AdvisorCatalyst

How well do you distinguish between patterns and anomalies when assessing an issue? Sometimes we approach anomalies as if they were patterns and waste resources. Two types of anomalies should give us caution – problem anomalies and success anomalies. Our key risk with problem anomalies is we end up increasing complexity, frustration and cost by adding processes across a broad array of activities in the organization to ensure “X never happens again.” Create process solutions to problems that exhibit a pattern. Train staff to navigate anomalies as they arise – greater freedom and less process.

Success anomalies will be next edition’s topic.

“To understand is to perceive patterns.” Isaiah Berlin

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In 100 Words: Savoring Quiet

August 1st, 2018 by AdvisorCatalyst

Reflection time is a luxury many people find too expensive. Consequently, the skill of quiet thinking can be under-developed. We live in 24/7, visual-rich, noise-saturated, media-stimulated environments. Who dares unplug and go quiet? What might we miss?

Physiologically, our minds don’t function well “always on.” Reflection time is where our minds work subconsciously connecting stored dots of information.

Practice quiet.

• Turn off devices
• Sit or stroll outside – nature is conducive to mental meandering
• Close your eyes – other senses awaken

When we are thirsty we gulp. To savor a drink, we sip and swish. Reflection is savoring quiet.

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” Albert Einstein

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In 100 Words: Be Patient with Pivots

June 15th, 2018 by AdvisorCatalyst

The pace of market change has many organizations currently in some stage of a business model pivot. To successfully execute the shift leaders should actively:

1. Engage deeply in early conversations and projects with customers. Listen closely and iterate quickly.
2. Shape the “Why and How” message to people inside the organization. Repeat yourself frequently.

It will require patience to see the full pivot… the change will likely take longer than initially anticipated. People need time to adjust their thinking and behaviors. It also takes effort to build new capabilities and the related inter-linking delivery systems. Give the pivot time.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace

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In 100 Words: Hourglass Leaders

May 1st, 2018 by AdvisorCatalyst

No, this message isn’t about using time wisely. The hourglass is a metaphor of something passing through a bottleneck. Specific to leaders, one chokepoint is our need to weigh in on too many different issues and decisions. This desire to review and provide input leads to final approvals stacking up in our inboxes. Speed of execution slows. There is an inverse correlation – the greater the amount of decisions and issues piled up on our desk, the less amount of work our teams are accomplishing. Determine where you can pass on decision authority. This will widen the neck of your hourglass.

“So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.” Peter Drucker

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In 100 Words: Obsessing Over Big Ideas

March 15th, 2018 by AdvisorCatalyst

Big Ideas are grand! Some leaders obsess over finding the next Big Idea. The latest company that races from concept to billion-dollar valuation captures our imagination. Strategy conversations spice up the humdrum of business. Leaders can become distracted pursuing new Big Ideas. Take note, there is a little secret with Big Ideas – you only need a few because the right ones remain true over time (e.g., faster delivery, more individualized service, exclusive prestige). Clarify your existing Big Ideas which will remain true over time. Invest to increase capabilities around those Big Ideas. In short, obsess over executing your Big Ideas!

“A company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn’t last.” Jeff Bezos

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In 100 Words: Position Well

January 31st, 2018 by AdvisorCatalyst

Where do you produce your greatest value and are you positioned to do so? Do you know what activities lead to your best work? Do you orient your time accordingly? If not, start a time log.

Identifying what keeps us out of position is a good first step toward contributing our best. Many of us don’t properly structure our work activities. Maybe we haven’t given thought to which activities yield the highest returns. Possibly we hold onto work that should be delegated or stopped altogether. Then, there are those pesky distractions.

Evaluate how you can reposition to deliver higher value.

“There’s an awful temptation to just keep on researching. There comes a point where you just have to stop, and start writing.” David McCullough

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In 100 Words: Appreciation is Free

December 15th, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

Sincere appreciation must rank as one of the most underutilized resources available to leaders. Other than some time, showing appreciation rarely costs us anything, yet we generally don’t express it frequently enough. On the flip side, we cherish receiving appreciation – we enjoy being recognized as someone of value who is contributing something of value.

It’s hard to express appreciation without a few pre-conditions:

• Care about the other person – truly care.
• Cultivate a thankful attitude.
• Maintain a generous spirit.

Don’t be stingy. Be quick to praise and recognize people in your life. Express it warmly – verbally or in writing. Freely appreciate!

“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” Charles M. Schwab

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In 100 Words: Bring Others With You (Change Spark-Part 2)

November 1st, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

How often do you coach, demand or incentivize people you lead to change? Stop these efforts – at least until you lead by example and change some of your own behaviors. Often leaders simply forget the power of example. Change is hard. When you change one or more your own ingrained habits the message is powerful and persuasive. Your call to action now has the ring of authenticity; of integrity. You demonstrate what it takes to fight through present discomfort for a better future outcome. Your example may be the spark others need to join you on a habit changing journey.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy

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In 100 Words: The Change Spark

September 15th, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

We are comfortable in our habits which makes behavior change hard. For example, medical studies confirm 90% of patients do not change their lifestyle following open heart surgery. Think of a lasting habit change you made in your life. What prompted the change? Likely there was an emotional spark – something moved you beyond simply understanding the rational benefits.

How does this connect to leading teams and organizations? Both groups are collections of people with habits. A “culture change” will only happen when individuals change behavior. What are you doing to help people you lead identify emotional sparks for habit change?

“People are very open-minded about new things, as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.” Charles F. Kettering

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