Archive | Leadership

Do You Have a Productive Partnership or a Tug of War?

Productive Partnership or Tug of War

They’re supposed to be your ally. Your co-conspirator. Your partner. But instead it feels like every conversation is a struggle. This isn’t how it is supposed to be.

In the best partnerships, people create something that neither could have accomplished on their own. They merge their unique perspectives, resources, and interests together in the interest of a greater goal. Easier said than done.

In our new white paper, “What Makes a Productive Partnership,” Amber Mayes and I break it down:

  • What are the four critical issues every partnership needs to address?
  • What’s the challenge most likely to make a partnership crash and burn?
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Power of Purpose: How Solid Purpose Generates Strategic Strength

Anchor

Purpose is one of the most powerful tools organizations have to support strategy. A good purpose places a stake in the ground, declaring what the organization values. It provides flexibility and allows the organization to respond to shifts in the market and customer preferences.

Powerful Purpose Statements

Here’s an example of one powerful purpose:

To transform lives through inspired learning.

This statement is great because it provides both boundaries and flexibility. On the boundaries side, it clearly states that “learning” is the field in which the organization (University of Texas) plays. At the same time, it provides flexibility in how the University provides inspired learning.

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Is Your Strategy Stuck in the 20th Century?

Strategy Battle between Coke & Pepsi

Ah, the good old days. The world was a more stable, predictable place. Companies knew their competitors: Coke had to crush Pepsi. Adidas sought to outdo Puma. Avis vied against Hertz. McDonald’s obsessed about its feud with Burger King.

Amidst this environment, strategy tools proliferated. Your company probably still uses the SWOT Analysis, which was developed in the 1960s.

Perhaps you also use Boston Consulting Group’s popular Growth Share Matrix from the 1970s.

And many rely on Porter’s Five Forces, which debuted in the Harvard Business Review in 1979.

All three of these tools—and many more—were conceived before the internet, before the rise of globalization, and before the rise of mega businesses like Amazon and Tencent.

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Strategy & Resilience Take Center Stage at Partnering Resources

Unexpected turbulence

Organization survival today depends on recognizing and adapting to business environments that bear little resemblance to what we saw five or even three years ago. A quick look at headlines over the past year makes it clear that market-roiling upsets are the new normal:

  • “The Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Means Every Other Retailer’s Three-Year Plan Is Obsolete” (Harvard Business Review, June 2017)
  • “Uber, Lyft Take Down Not Just Cab Drivers, But Also Lenders” (CNBC, July 2017)
  • “While We Weren’t Looking, Snapchat Revolutionized Social Networks” (New York Times, November 2016)
  • “Electric Cars Could Totally Disrupt The Oil Market Within A Decade, Researchers Say” (Fortune, February 2017)

Political upsets have caused similar disruptions; the surprise “yea” vote for Brexit forced many companies to rethink their UK and EU strategies.

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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

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.

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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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

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

Blue-Networked-People-cropped

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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