New Leadership Tools: Finding Direction through Network Maps: Mini Case #1

Network Maps as Leadership Tools - Star Performer Expertise

Companies create organization charts that show hierarchies and reporting relationships. But work rarely gets done as it appears on an org chart. Instead, people operate through networks: informal webs of relationships that people instinctively form in the workplace.

Traditionally, leaders have used organization charts to understand their boundaries and spheres of influence. Network maps provide new and helpful information about how people actually perform work, make decisions, and solve problems. Network thinking and network maps can help leaders gain a holistic perspective and uncover unseized opportunities, identify lurking risks, and address unarticulated needs.

In this series, we look at how several different leaders used network knowledge to advance their company’s strategy.

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NEW ARTICLE: Realizing the Benefits of True Globalization

Image of world in hands

By Aussiegall on flickr.

Many organizations say they’re global. Few achieve the benefits of globalization.

Bayer CropScience (BCS) experienced this conundrum several years ago. Their Global Public & Government Affairs (GPGA) division had offices all over the world, but they usually worked independently. Regions reinvented materials and programs created elsewhere. Lessons learned in one area weren’t shared with others. The benefits of globalization weren’t apparent.

In 2012, BCS hired a new leader, Lisa Coen, who was charged with creating a truly global GPGA organization. She was asked to align headquarters and regions around priorities, goals, strategies, and roles. A new article, “From Regional to Global: Using a Network Strategy to Align a Multinational Organization,” describes how Coen proceeded to transform GPGA into a global organization.

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Sorry? (Not Sorry): Guest Post on the Art of Apology by Amy Yeager

Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.

Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.

After several days at a conference, I found myself woefully behind on email. “I’m sorry about the delayed response,” I wrote again and again. But what was I really saying with that apology?

There are actually six different types of apologies, according to Corentus Director of Client Engagement and Partnering Resources Affiliate Amy Yeager. Amy writes about the art of apology in this fantastic new article, Sorry (Not Sorry). As she says:

When does saying we’re sorry help or hurt, or just keep us stuck? As we think about the impact of saying we’re sorry, it can be helpful to distinguish between (at least) six different types of sorry.

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NEW ARTICLE: The Art of Quiet Networking

Image: <a href=""Liz Fosselien & Mollie West</a>

Image: Liz Fosslien and Mollie West

For many introverts, Susan Cain’s TED talk about introversion was a much needed affirmation of the value of the quiet style. She articulated what many of us needed to hear: there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. In fact, introverts have much to offer.

Susan Cain started two organizations–Quiet Revolution and the Quiet Leadership Institute–to support introverts, their families, and their work environments. I am delighted to announce that our new article, “The Art of Quiet Networking” has been published on both sites.

The Art of Quiet Networking tells my story. It shares how I progressed from an anxious, unhappy networker to someone who actually likes the process.

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Chocolate at Work: A Lighter Post for August

Maya Hosts a Chocolate Tasting

Maya hosts a chocolate tasting

If you know me, you know that I love chocolate. You also know that I’ve taken that love beyond simply hoarding bars in my chocolate chiller (yes, I bought a chiller to keep my chocolates safe from heat). I’ve created a curated guide to artisan chocolatiers in Paris and New York, led professional tastings, and facilitated industry conversations about cacao standards.

I recently had the chance to talk with John Garrett about what this hobby has to do with work. John calls himself a “recovering CPA.” Freed from cubicles and spreadsheets, he now tours the country as a corporate comedian and hosts the Green Apple Podcast.

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NEW ARTICLE: Transform Your Network with Three Simple Practices

CW Blog Post Photo - Transform Your Network

Would you rather go to the dentist than to a networking event? If so, then this article is for you.

Here’s an excerpt from our recently published article, “Transform Your Network with Three Simple Practices,” on Communication World:

Networking is considered a professional necessity. Conventional wisdom states that if we don’t build and sustain our networks properly, we’ll lose out on opportunities like promotions, new jobs, and important information.

The bad news: The conventional wisdom is right. The good news: Most of us are networking all wrong. Read on for three simple practices to transform your networking experience.

To transform your networking practice, read the Communication World article now.

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100+ Tried & True Problem-Solving Tools

Sense making illustration by Kelvy Bird.

Too many leaders choose the wrong tool for the problem at hand. Our infographic, “What’s Your Problem,” explains the four different types of problems leaders face. Once you’ve read it, you may be left thinking: OK, I know what kind of problem I have. What tool do I use?

In this post, we share over 100 tried-and-true problem-solving tools. These are effective and elegant methods that you can use to address the four types of problems.

Simple Problem-Solving Tools

SOP from UCLA.

Simple problems have easily seen cause and effect relationships. Your job is to assess the facts, categorize the facts, and then apply the appropriate best practice.

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Are You Solving the Right Problem?

What's Your Problem - Top

Problems come in many shapes and sizes. Some are small (“I can’t find space for my 2pm meeting”). Others are large (“I can’t get forty coalition members to agree on goals”). All have the capacity to drive you nuts, especially if you’re not solving problems using the right tools.

If You Have a Hammer, Everything is a Nail

Once you find techniques that work, it’s tempting to use them over and over again. Maybe you’ve had great success using Gantt charts. You might like performance charting, root cause analysis, or group dialogue sessions. Perhaps business ecosystem maps rock your world.

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New Case Studies: How to Use Networks Strategically


Network maps make the invisible world of organizational transactions, relationships, and knowledge flows visible. But what can they actually accomplish for an organization?

We recently published two case studies based on our work with clients. Each case study shows how one client used network knowledge to advance their strategy.

Case Study #1: Using Network Mapping to Globalize an Organization

In 2013, a new leader was hired to transform the Public & Governmental Affairs (PGA) division into a truly global organization. The leader realized that PGA needed to operate as a network. She used network thinking to guide development in the organization.

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The Power of “No”: Escape From Overload and Focus on What Matters

<a href="" target="_blank">By DWRose on flickr</a>

By DWRose on flickr

One of the most important things a leader can do is to help people stay focused. That means having the courage to say “no.” It also means having the willingness to protect the interests of your organization when people push back.

The Slippery Slope to Overload

People can wear you down by pointing out reasons why the idea can’t work, advocating for initiatives that would be more beneficial, and finding opportunities that could be seized. All of those reasons, initiatives, and opportunities could be important. However, leaders need to weigh the possible benefits against the potential drawback of overextending the organization.

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