Tag Archives: leadership

Leadership Vs. Management– Distinction is Absurd, Superficial: Shift Emphasis to– Creating, Building, Teaming, Doing…

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Leadership Vs. Management; kill the word ‘manager’… kick it, shoot it, just be done with it. One of the oldest running myths in the business world is that leaders and managers are somehow different, but in fact– leaders are managers, and managers are leaders… According to Ronald E. Riggio; leadership and management are fundamentally different, well sort of… while we may be able to divide tasks into those that require ‘management’ (i.e., decision-making, record keeping…) and the more abstract aspects of ‘leadership’ (i.e., creating vision, inspiring followers…) the truth is that anyone who supervises others needs to be both manager and leader, to be effective... According to Peter Drucker; the excesses of modern corporations are directly related to bloated concept of leadership… businesses have more than enough leaders; what they really need are more competent managers who can do the hard work of– decision-making, planning, coaching… The typical business leader is like the leader of a marching band– they wave a stick while other people do all the work… According to Greg Schinkel; have we shifted reasoning too far towards developing leaders instead of developing effective managers? Differentiating management and leadership typically involves labeling managers as perpetuating status quo, while leaders blaze new trails and inspire employees to follow them towards grand vision. In reality, we need solid management and supervisory skills to actually get work done and deliver value to customers and results to the bottom line…

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It was once believed that leaders were ‘born not made’, this has given way to a widespread assumption that leadership is something that can be learned and therefore taught… Since the 1970s an industry has grown up to meet that demand, one that is valued at $50 billion by Forbes. There are nearly 400 accredited business schools in U.S. alone and many more around the world, teaching a curriculum driven by thousands of leadership experts who make a very decent living writing, speaking, teaching the fundamentals of this relatively new topic… According to Henry Mintzberg; we have an obsession with leadership, by focusing on a single person– leadership becomes part of the syndrome of individuality– that is undermining many organizations… and, by the excessive promotion of leadership, we demote everyone else… In business, there is surprisingly little evidence that directly links leaders to performance of many organizations. According to James Meindl; research found that the actions of many leaders, CEOs, accounted for just 15% of the variation in a company’s performance… According to Krystyn Tully; leadership is important, for sure; but, so is management… If you’re trying to do something important, then the idea of leadership is a distraction: It’s irrelevant… Just put your head down and do the best you can… History can decide if you were a true leader, manager, or whatever… you’ve got more important things to think about…

In the article Leadership vs. Management: Dangerous Distinction? by Bob Sutton writes: Thousands of books are written on leadership and management– and there are several academic journals devoted entirely to the subject… In the process of reviewing much of the literature– I’ve been bumping into an old and popular distinction that has always bugged me, i.e.; ‘leading vs. managing’… According to Warren Bennis; there is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important: To ‘manage’ means– to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct… Whereas, ‘leading’ is influencing, guiding in a direction, actions, opinions… The distinction is crucial… Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing… Also, as I continue to re-read the leadership literature, it suggest that some leaders see their job as just coming up with big, vague ideas, and then treat the details of implementation as mere management work for other workers to do…

I am all for grand visions, strategies… but, the people (leaders) who seem to have the most success are those that have a deep understanding of the details required to make them work– or if they don’t, they have wisdom to surround themselves with people (managers) who can offset their weaknesses, and who have the courage to argue with them when there is no clear path between their dreams and reality… I am not rejecting the distinction between leadership and management, but the best leaders do something that might be most properly called– a mixture of leadership and management, or at least lead in a way that constantly takes into account importance of management… Some of the worst senior executives use distinctions between leadership and management as an excuse to avoid learning-knowing details so they can more clearly understand– the risk, rewards… and select the right strategies… According to Bennis; to do the right thing, a leader needs to understand what it takes to do things right…

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In the article Leadership is Overrated by wally writes: The great cry of management literature for the last twenty years has been: We must have more leaders! We must have more leaders! It’s nonsense… Pick up the dictionary and look up ‘leader’…  It will probably be something like this; leader: one who leads. .. Note, that we are talking about a leader as being defined by what they do… The fact is anyone who is responsible for performance of a group is a leader, because people follow the leader’s example; that’s what leaders do, they set the example, the direction… If people follow you, then you’re a leader… You can lead well or you can lead poorly, but you’re leading and that’s about defining, implementing the group’s– purpose, direction, culture… When you’re making those kinds of decisions, when you’re setting the example which defines culture, or when you’re talking to people about– why and what they do is important… then you’re doing leadership work, and you are a leader… Whereas when you are managing, which involves setting, implement priorities… that isn’t any more or any less noble than leadership work… Both must be done and done well… So, don’t be misled by the jargon and hype; If you are responsible for a– company, group, team… then– you are doing leadership, you are doing management, you are doing supervision…

In the article Underrated Managers, Overrated Leaders by Harvey Schachter writes: In many organizations ‘leadership’ is considered the high-level, which is distinct and far more important than ‘management’… According to Henry Mintzberg; leaders who separate leadership from management are a danger to the organization… Too many leaders are disconnected from what is going on in their organization… He points to the late Steve Jobs, celebrated as a leader and visionary, who changed the world with his innovations… Mr. Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., was hailed as the ultimate leader. And, his lack of people skills has been viewed as evidence he was a terrible manager. His success seems to prove the point that strong leadership trumps management: If you’re a great leader, you can be a crappy manager and still succeed…

But Prof. Mintzberg has a different view: Steve Jobs was truly extraordinary. I am not sure that you would call him a leader, other than perhaps in a tech sense… He was not a natural leader of  people. That happened through his intricate knowledge, management of the product of the organization… Also, according to Prof. Mintzberg; Jack Welch, who has been called the best executive of the past century, but he didn’t leave any legacy other than a better-managed corporation than the one he inherited when he took the helm at G. E. There are no special products that he developed, no new industries or even segments of industries he created. He was a manager– highly gifted one– and because of that he was very successful… So, why are so many executives (leaders) disconnected with their organization? It’s because they bought into the going notion they would rather be leader than manager, thus they need not know– any of the nuts and bolts… but just provide vision…

In the article Manager as Leader by mike writes: The false dichotomy between leaders and managers stems from the absurd notion that organizations need ‘leaders’ at the top, and staff of ‘managers’ at all other levels below them– it’s a modern form of Plato’s class distinction between ‘kings/philosophers’ (leaders), ‘guardians’ (managers), and ‘workers/ slaves’… It’s early form of Taylorism… According to J. Adair; leadership vs. management is one of those topics that re-appears over and over again. I have fallen victim to many long discussions where both parties were so assured of their correctness they just keep repeating clichés, such as– ‘leaders’ lead people, ‘managers’ manage tasks… there is a difference; but, difference is not all that great because– managers are leaders, just as leaders are managers…

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We must all stop looking, waiting, anticipating… for the emergence of better leaders and, instead, take responsibility for the quality of our own organizations! It’s common practice, no matter at what level people are in the organization (i.e., employee, supervisor, manager, VP…); they all chant the same mantra; if only we had better leadership we would not be in position we are today! Variations on this theme include; When upper management get their act together; I’ll be able to do my job correctly! Another favorite; It’s got to start from the top! Surely, every organization needs a person who will remind them of– what the organization is trying to achieve, and why it’s important… but, leadership must come from all levels within an organization… and, not just from one person designated as the ‘leader’. According to Colleen Sharen; importance of leadership is vastly over-rated, leaders are not the silver bullet solution for most problems, issues… According to Henry Mintzberg; emphasis on leadership has led to emphasis on style over substance, and ‘leader’ over ‘follower’… By the excessive promotion of leadership we, in fact, demote everyone else. We create clusters of followers who must be driven to perform, instead of leveraging the natural propensity of people to cooperate, collaborate… in groups…

However, by all indications the general public, businesses, academics… are convinced we need leadership… Maybe because we need to believe that someone knows what to do in these crazy, complex, confusing times… Perhaps we need to jettison the platonic ideal of the one perfect leader… According to Mintzberg; suggests that there are few effective managers, and maybe we need to ditch the idea of– leaders, managers, followers... What could be more natural than to see organizations not as mystical hierarchies of authority, but as communities of engagement, where every member is respected and so returns that respect… We’re told how important it is to be a leader. Every college in U.S. claims to be ‘creating tomorrow’s leaders’… We’re told to ‘develop our leadership skills’ if we want a good job or to get ahead in life… Leaders are important, we’re told… but, too many leaders and not enough followers is a problem. Nothing gets done if everyone is in charge… Leaders without followers are useless… When Henry Mintzberg was asked; What type of leadership would you recommend for the 21st century? he answered without delay: Less leadership and more people who actually do stuff…

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Expose Confessions of CEOs– A Peek into the Corner Office: Lesson Learned From– Failure, Crisis, Fear, Chaos, Uncertainty

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Expose Confessions of CEOs– really; but could it be that executive leaders who appear boldly confident are wracked by personal doubt? Aren’t the men-women who spend their days in the C-Suite immune to human foibles that plague most mere mortals? According to Jan Hill; I bear witness that the inner world of many organizations’ most senior leaders, and many have confirmed, that these executives doubt themselves more often than you might think… Here are a few CEO confessions that I’ve heard: *Every day I’m disabled by an overarching irrational fear that I will fail… *I’m just sitting here playing with broken toys. Why doesn’t my executive team get it? Where did I go wrong?… *I feel like I’m an imposter. What if they find me out?… *We all scream in different ways: I just scream softly, but no one hears it… According tomicah; I confess that the lessons learned from getting punched in the face, as a CEO, is life changing: I am not a CEO today. I know now what a CEO should be, and I am not it. I don’t have the love or understanding of structure to be effective. Instead, what I am really good at is introducing people and finding ways for companies to work collaboratively, which is my current role and I am happy with it… I often think about what I could have accomplished if I had a bit more maturity about the management of the business. While the sale of the company certainly was a success, in terms of being a CEO, I failed…

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As producer of ‘The Motley Fool Radio Show’, Mac Greer heard a number of CEOs fess-up to their failures– business decisions that didn’t ultimately make for great business. Here are a few favorites:

  • According to Jim Keyes, 7-Eleven:We packaged a more convenient pantyhose for ladies and it has helped us to bring more female shoppers into the store, but we were a little bit out-there when we introduced fish-net hose at 7-Eleven Stores. I would say that was one of the dumber decisions…
  • According to Dick Kinzel, Cedar Fair: We put a $4 million building around this dog ride and named it ‘Disaster Transport’. I remember on opening day a gentleman walked out of the ride and came over to me and said; You named that one right– that’s a disaster. And you know what, he was right. That was by far the dumbest thing I ever did…
  • According to Bob Davies, Church & Dwight: In the mid-’70s, we went zooming into the personal deodorant and antiperspirant business with an aerosolized can of baking soda. We had two huge problems. Many of the cans clogged, and those that didn’t clog did worse– they massively stung people’s underarms. We lost around $6 million in that venture and that was back when we were a tiny little company. I almost lost my job…
  • According to Jack Soden, Elvis Enterprises: We licensed a company that made bedroom slippers. They were big, furry slippers and they had a rubber image of Elvis’ head on the toes. It was one of those things that when you saw them in the store, it was like: What were we thinking? We pulled the license and got them off the market as fast as we could…

In the article Confessions of Remarkable CEO by Kevin Song writes: Our experience at coaching, advising CEOs has allowed us to distill key insights into challenges that confront many CEOs. While CEOs encounter countless obstacles, we have found truth in these four confessions, with our added notes:

  • Confession #1: I am frustrated with politics and discord among my leadership team. They do not seem to get along, and we are not achieving the execution we need to grow the organization… When an executive team does not function well together, the organization suffers– sometimes, individual executives may simply not work well together or seem to be working from ‘a different page’. Other times, an individual executive is simply not performing at a level worthy of the organization’s highest leadership team. In any case, an under-performing executive team should alarm the CEO…
  • Confession #2: We lack effective planning sessions that generate real and desirable results — our meeting sessions lack passion, direction, and focus, which are needed in order to produce action and positive outcomes… Does your organization wrestle to gaining advancement in executing strategic goals? Maybe your organization is slow to act on a new plan. One manifestation of this confession is unlikely in your strategic planning process. Or, it might just be the feeling that– we don’t need more knowing, we need more doing; for some reason, you are not performing on the fundamentals you already know well…
  • Confession #3: We cannot seem to get ahead of the competitors– after all research and money we spent; we did not gain much competitive advantage… No one sees this more clearly than CEOs. No matter how good results of the organization happen to be, you see weaknesses, breakdowns in systems and performance. An opportunity exists to tighten process, remove waste… while continuing to optimize business results. There are numerous gaps that, when closed, produce strong financial performance…
  • Confession #4: We tried many ways to improve bottom-line, but they don’t seem to give us the results we need; I know we are not producing the most effective results from our talents and resources… At some point, it’s natural for CEOs to wonder if they have hit personal limits as leaders. They may express feeling of swimming in water that is over their heads. While the feeling is more personal than organizational in nature, it can impact the organization’s ability to produce results as greatly as any of the other challenges…

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In the article Top CEO Challenges by Dominic Barton (McKinsey Partner) with notes by McDwight Frindt writes: As someone who spends much time with many CEOs from the world’s leading companies, I have gain interesting insights, which are very consistent with the overall CEO population. Here they are:

  • Struggle with loneliness: The higher you get, the harder it is to find the right sources to trust… Having access to a peer group and being able to work issues with people who face the same types of challenges you do every day can be amazingly helpful for a top leader…
  • Lack of time: CEOs continue to balance an overflowing plate and prioritizing becomes key… This is something everyone is facing these days from the top office throughout an organization. We have found that the key issues here are in the ‘human dimension’– meaning that things often get slowed down between people through miscommunications, misunderstandings and upsets…
  • Appetite for cross-sector knowledge: CEOs and companies across the globe are looking at what can be learned from industries, companies… other than their own. Cross-pollination at its best. What can marketers learn from HR? What can IT learn from sales? This is another area we find that communication is critical and is not happening at an optimum level. Often groups, teams, and departments become ‘silos’. There is usually a lot that can be learned by an organization and its leaders from within, from its own people. The challenge is opening up the flow for that to happen…
  • Understanding transitions: Leaders transition in and out of positions, jobs, and companies. They are consistently looking for help with these transitions… Transitions are often fraught with emotions and complexities…
  • Battle for talent: The biggest competitive advantage of any company in the future is going to be people. Often CEOs don’t know the scope of talent available to them within their own company. This is a source of frustration for many… It’s amazing how much knowledge and information inside a company does not flow. Again, challenges in the ‘human dimension’ often hinder this flow. Fear, politics and other factors can keep key information like ‘how talented is your talent pool’ from being clear to those at the top…

In the article Confessions of a Natural Born Follower by Kelly McCausey writes: I don’t consider myself a natural-born leader; in fact, I’m exact opposite – I was a natural-born follower… Being a leader was so ‘not’ natural for me. Any time I found myself having to make decisions, I naturally sought guidance from other sources to figure out what I need to do, next… I didn’t trust myself, didn’t trust my experience, and just desperately wanted someone to tell me what I needed to do and where I should be headed, e.g.: What if I led people in wrong direction? What if I made mistake and hurt someone? What if I wasn’t smart enough to handle the job? What if, what if, what if??? You may not believe me, but still today I sometimes have to force myself to ‘be’ the leader. When I was a follower, I saw leaders as– confident, powerful, popular people who seemed to be naturally gifted in the art of– perfect words, actions… What I am finding more and more is that most of the time, even with a plan, experience and even guidance, we (leaders-CEOs) sometimes feel like we are free-falling off of a cliff… However, what I’ve learned is that perhaps none of us-CEOs are the kind of leaders that I assumed existed; none are perfect and none found success easily. All of us are often scared, even terrified from time-to-time. All of us have faced and overcome our own; What Ifs… Most of all, I got the realization that it doesn’t matter if you aren’t born and bred to be a leader. In fact, most people aren’t… What does matter is how much you are willing to face your fears, and do what you must do…

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All too often, we see CEOs make critical mistakes that can lead to dangerous repercussions for them and their organizations… According to Ken Sundheim; since I started my firm, you could say that my philosophies and practices have changed dramatically. But rather than ‘change’, my business philosophies and skills have a more positive– ‘evolutionary’ trajectory… whereas, ‘change’ is a more abrupt manifestation of motion, improvement… In the end, my ‘confession’ is that as a young CEO, or in any state of business leadership, you can never stop examining yourself, and you can never be afraid to try, and fail… At a layer barely below the conscious surface, we all know and recognize the key behaviors that separate effective leaders from train wrecks… Rarely do we get such crisp opportunities to observe and learn… and that old cliché about– crises being the true proving grounds for leaders will never become obsolete…

According to Andreas Souvaliotis; it all really comes down to the three classic; ‘Cs’ of leadership, when faced with a sudden challenge: Confront! Leaders are human and the vast majority of humans are actually afraid of confrontation. Our instincts guide us to avoid conflict for as long as possible and yet, when a crisis is headed our way and we’re in charge of any kind of human organization, our best bet is to confront the crisis early… Communicate! Leaders who rely on ‘spokespeople’ at a time of crisis are abdicators. That’s a catastrophic misstep and, sadly, a very common one… Care! Don’t just say you ‘do’ — show it; prove it, own the problem… Empathy counts for more than just about anything else at a time of crisis… Failure is in the eye of the beholder and confessions are for wimps… You should not ask; Who am I to do this? but rather; Who am I ‘not ‘to do this? A great CEO is someone who can live in uncertainty, chaos… and say: I know there is a better way

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More Leaders Need to– Shut Up, Listen, Think: Leadership is About Listening… Know When to Dial-Up, Dial-Down, Dial-Off

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Rule #1: Smart leaders– Shut Up! Listen! Stop Talking! If you’re talking, you’re not listening. This rule also applies to the talking inside your head. If you’re thinking intently about what you want to say, you’re not listening to what is being said… According to OpProf; some people should simply shut up. In a rapidly changing world, smart leaders find more business opportunities by listening rather than by talking. While other leaders insist-persist in dogmatic soliloquy– and, the audience is disinterested, disengaged, dying for someone to end their misery– no one is listening. Yammering– that’s what stupid leaders do– they yammer-on about something they think is ultimately important but their audience has long since quit listening… To be a smart leader, you need to shut up and listen… To lead radical transformation in business, organizations… quit talking and start listening. Listen to the people in the know, listen to employees and vendors. Listen to the hard and soft trends. Listen to wise advise in a changing world. Quit thinking you are always right and listen… Those who listen do far more than those who like to hear themselves talk… According to Graham Seel; I have come to realize that leaders who get caught up in their own non-stop self-a-thons are usually driven by shadier subconscious agenda; the gnawing anxiety to prove themselves; the need to ensure that others know they are significant; the dizzying desperation to justify their leadership role… One of the fundamental hallmarks of strong leadership is self-awareness… The irony is that when a leader is relaxed, focused on others, stops trying so hard to impress people… they become much more effective, inspirational, and respected by others… Be the smart leader– shut up, listen…

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In the article Why Most Leaders Need to Shut Up, Listen by Mike Myatt writes: Great leaders are great listeners, and therefore my message is a simple one– talk less and listen more. The best leaders are proactive, strategic, intuitive listeners… They recognize knowledge and wisdom are not gained by talking, but by listening. Take a moment and reflect back on any great leader who comes to mind… you’ll find they are very adept at reading between the lines. The best leaders possess uncanny ability to understand what is not said, witnessed, heard… Want to become better leader? Stop talking, start listening. Being a leader should not be viewed as license to increase the volume of rhetoric. Rather astute leaders know there is far more to be gained by surrendering the floor than by dominating it. In this age of instant communication everyone seems to be in such a rush to communicate what’s on their mind, they fail to realize the value of everything that can be gleaned from the minds of others. Show me a leader who doesn’t recognize the value of listening to others and I’ll show you a train-wreck in the making… It’s simply not possible to be a great leader without being a great communicator. This partially accounts for why we don’t encounter great leadership more often. The big miss for most leaders is that they fail to understand that the purpose of communication is not to message, but to engage –  this requires listening. Don’t be fooled into thinking that being heard is more important than hearing. The first rule in communication is to seek understanding before seeking to be understood. Listen to customers, competitors, peers, subordinates… almost universally, the smartest person in the room is not the one doing all the talking – it’s the person asking the few relevant and engaging questions and doing most of the listening. Leadership is about listening, and action. That said, leaders who act before they understand don’t tend to achieve the outcomes they desire… great talkers are a dime a dozen, but great listeners are a rare breed

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In the article Three Words that Can Save the Business by Mark McIntyre writes: Stop, Look, Listen… Get your head out of the sand of daily operations, look outside. What do you see? Not through the corner-office window but from a perch with a nice view of customers. What are they doing with the product? How satisfied are they with the experience? What alternatives do you see them turning to? Then look to your own imagination and demand that it give you a good look at the worst-case scenario of the future… Listen, put your ear to the ground: What do you hear? What do Web whispers, blog rumors tell you? Remember that venture capitalist you met last year? Give her a call, ask what got her attention. Take everything you hear seriously… catalog it, then ask colleagues to listen to you… It may often seem like dominating technology companies get blindsided— that they are toppled by stealth disruptive forces they could not have seen coming. It’s a great story line for Silicon Valley startups, but it’s almost never the truth. Instead, many leaders in high-performing companies are deeply addicted with their success, such that they are unable to overcome their own cognitive blinders… and then they fail to react to market changes, new competitors… whereas, smart leaders are open to new ideas, suggestions… they are always looking, listening, thinking…

How well do you experience the world around you? How well do you listen? A social experiment by the ‘Washington Post Newspaper’ tested this hypothesis in a Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007: There on the station floor sitting on an old orange crate was a man, unshaven and dressed in worn clothes playing a musical instrument. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time about 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work… After 3 minutes a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule… 4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman put money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk… 6 minutes later: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again… 10 minutes later: A 3 year-old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as the kid stopped to look at the violinist.

Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head to look back… 45 minutes later: The musician continued to play… Overall; only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while, about 20 people gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace: He collected $32 in 1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over… no one noticed, no one applauded, nor was there any recognition… No one knew that the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100… This is a real story. The Questions Raised In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context? One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments. How many other things are we missing?

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In the article Are You Listening or Just Waiting to Talk? by Daniel Newman writes: Is listening a lost art? In a world full of so much to say, it can be so hard to really listen. But if you want to be a leader, you have to realize that you must listen. For leadership is often founded in empathy: It starts with the phrase; Are You Listening or Just Waiting to Talk? Have you ever caught yourself actively brainstorming… carefully planning your eloquent response amidst a conversation… but, ironically you are only comprehending a fraction of the messages because your focus isn’t on the conversation, but rather on your response– Bite your tongue, if necessary, and overcoming the urge to talk, just focus on listening… Some people struggle with being a good enough listener because their mind tends to play chess. Constantly thinking about what is next or what else needs to be done. However, I have found, without a doubt, that when you want to move a business and relationships forward, there is nothing more compelling than being a great listener. The act of focusing on what the person is saying, rather than what you want to say… allows you to connect and to truly gain understanding of the other person. It’s simple, just– stop waiting to talk, and start ‘really’ listening…

It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator: Just note; the sentence doesn’t say become a– great talker, big difference… According to Mike Myatt;  great leaders know when to dial it up, dial it down, and dial it off… Simply broadcasting your message ad nauseam will not have the same result as engaging in meaningful conversation, but this assumes that you understand that the greatest form of discourse takes place within a conversation, and not a lecture or monologue. When you reach that point in life where the light bulb goes off, and you begin to understand that knowledge is not gained by flapping lips, but by removing ear wax, you have taken the first step to becoming a skilled communicator and great leader… According to Mike Figliuolo; if you simply want others around you to think you’re brilliant, there’s an easy and elegant way to do so: Just shut up, listen. When others get to share opinions and ideas, they feel important. You should actively solicit thoughts and listen in an engaged manner. By listening, you can come across as exponentially more brilliant… Have you found it difficult, at times, to keep your mouth shut? Do you actively monitor your– ‘talking to listening ratio’ in conversations? Do you routinely ask ‘yourself’ — what have I learned from this person (you) in the last 5 minutes? And, when the answer is ‘nothing': Do you shut up? Remember that the letters in the word ‘listen’ also spell ‘silent’…

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Comparing Management Styles– Search for Best Most Effective Style of Management: U.S., Europe, Asia, India, Brazil, Russia…

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Management style is a method of leadership that’s employed for running a business, organization, project… it’s methodology for managing people, resources, expectations… and for achieving business goals, objectives… its getting employees to work together in harmony on a common platform and achieving the very best performance, productivity… it’s an approach for making decisions that relates to the organization, managers, and subordinates… Management styles must be adaptable, such that they are consistent with the culture of the organization, nature of the task, nature of the workforce, and personality and skills of leadership. Every style has its own unique characteristics and strong points, shortcomings, methods for getting work done… According to Jack Welch; my main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds from time to time too… According to Robert Tannenbaum and Warren H. Schmidt; the style of management is dependent upon the prevailing circumstance; leaders should exercise a range of management styles and should deploy them as appropriate… According to bhattathiri; the Western idea of management centers on making the worker (and the manager) more efficient and more productive…but it has failed in ensuring betterment of individual life and social welfare. It has remained by and large a soulless edifice and an oasis of plenty for a few in the midst of poor quality of life for many. There is an urgent need to re-examine prevailing management disciplines – their objectives, scope and content. Management should be redefined to underline the development of the worker as a person, as a human being, and not as a mere wage-earner. With this changed perspective, management can become an instrument in the process of social and indeed national development. According to Björn Stansvik; there is no blanket answer to the question: What is the best management style? Different styles are called for at different times in different situations with different colleagues… There is no one style which suits all people and all situations. The most effective managers and leaders must find ways to adapt their individual styles– it’s often said of Sir Alex Ferguson; he knows which players need an arm round the shoulder and which ones need a kick up the backside...

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In the article U.S. and European Management Styles by James Heskett Baker writes; there are marked differences in the social environment for management in Europe and U. S. In some parts of Europe, they foster management policies that may encourage more balance in a manager’s life, between work and private activities and risk and stability; whether this will produce sustained economic superiority or a model to be emulated in the U.S. is debatable… According to Antonio De Luca; if one has to generalize, it’s fair to say that U.S. pursue risk, and Europeans seek stability– (leading) to fewer opportunities with more limited financial rewards, but possibly more balance for Europeans. The solution, as usual, is a sensible convergence of these two nuanced cultural approaches… According to Roy Bingham; points out that U.S. management style seems to work best when the key needs are– speed, aggression, last-minute genius, take-chance, inspiring leadership. In boom times when it’s expansion at all costs–pick U.S. style. At other times the more deliberate, consultative European approach is your ally… According to Jose Pedro Goncalves; I take issue that there is a European style of management, pointing out that there is no one style. In some parts of Europe (as a manager)– I’m a human being. In other parts; I’m just a number. In general we (Europeans) are more human, but less flexible… According to Dr. B.V. Krishnamurthy; the search for that elusive concept of the ‘best management style’ continues, although one could argue from lessons learned that there may not be a ‘best’ style, for example; centralization and decentralization can go together, flex-time and tele-working are meant to improve productivity, and many of the ‘either/or’ concepts can be treated as complementary, to be used with discretion…

India management styleaccording to Gunasekar C Raharatnam; I doubt if there is clear approach that can be described today. Some might point towards the many family owned and managed business organizations in India, some of these are large corporate entities and leaders in their industry but most are small tightly controlled family businesses. Even such family businesses are increasingly being controlled by the recent generations of well-educated inheritors. The management ‘styles’ are changing and perhaps shifting more towards Western styles that are being pushed by management schools… India is an enormously hierarchical society and this, obviously, has an impact on management style. It’s imperative that there is a boss and that the manager acts like a boss. The position of manager demands a certain amount of role-playing from the boss and a certain amount of deferential behavior from his subordinates… Managing people in India requires a level of micro-management which many western business people feel extremely uncomfortable with but, which is likely to bring the best results…

Brazil management style considers a manager’s personal style to be of great significance and it could almost be said that his or her vision/bearing is viewed as of great an importance as their technical abilities… Relationships are of key importance in this Latin culture and the boss and subordinates work hard to foster a relationship based on trust and respect for personal dignity. First and foremost, managers are expected to manage. The boss is expected to give direct instructions and it is expected that these instructions will be carried out without too much discussion or debate (if there is debate it should be done in private to avoid showing public disrespect to the hierarchy)… Decision-making in Brazil is often reserved for the most senior people. Taking the time to build the proper working relationship is crucial to success. Coming in as an outsider is often difficult, so it is advisable to have a third-party introduction… Often the people you negotiate with will not have decision-making authority. Decisions are made by the highest-ranking person.

China management style tends to follow Confucian philosophy: Relationships are deemed to be unequal and ethical behavior demands that these inequalities are respected: Older person should automatically receive respect from the younger and the senior from the subordinate. This is the cornerstone of all the China management thinking and issues such as empowerment and open access to all information are viewed by the Chinese as, at best, bizarre Western notions… Management is the directive, with the senior manager giving instructions to their direct reports who in turn pass on the instructions down the line. Subordinates do not question the decisions of superiors – that would be to show disrespect and be the direct cause of loss of face (mianzi) for all concerned… Although Western type management styles are beginning to have some influence with the younger generations…

Japan management style emphasis the need for information flow from the bottom of the company to the top: Senior management is largely a supervisory rather than ‘hands-on’ approach. Policy is often originated at the middle-levels of a company before being passed upwards for ratification. The strength of this approach is obviously that those tasked with the implementation of decisions have been actively involved in the shaping of policy… The higher a Japanese manager rises within an organization, the more important it is that he appears unassuming and not ambitious. Individual personality and forcefulness are not seen as the prerequisites for effective leadership. The key task for a Japanese manager is to provide the environment in which the group can flourish. In order to achieve this he must be accessible at all times and willing to share knowledge within the group. Manager is seen as a type of father figure who expects and receives loyalty and obedience from colleagues. In return, the manager is expected to take a holistic interest in the well-being of those colleagues: It is a mutually beneficial two-way relationship…

Russian management style tends to be centralized and directive. The boss, especially the ‘big boss’, is expected to issue direct instructions for subordinates to follow. There is little consultation with people lower down company hierarchy. Indeed too much consultation from a senior manager could be seen as a sign of weakness and lack of decisiveness. Middle managers have little power over strategy or input in significant strategic decisions. The most powerful middle managers are the ones who have the most immediate entrée to the decision-maker at the top of the organization. There is little point in wasting time debating with middle managers who do not have an easy access to the top. The most significant reason for delay in reaching a decision in Russia is that the decision has not been put in front of the real decision-maker…

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Several Observations About Management Styles by Noted Experts: Management ‘Theory Z’ is a name applied to three distinctly different psychological theories. One was developed by Abraham H. Maslow in his paper Theory-Z and another is Dr. William Ouchi’s so-called Japanese management style popularized during the Asian economic boom of the 1980s. The third was developed by W. J. Reddin in Managerial Effectiveness… Abraham Maslow, a psychologist and the first theorist to develop a theory of motivation based upon human needs produced a theory that had three assumptions: First, human needs are never completely satisfied. Second, human behavior is purposeful and is motivated by need for satisfaction. Third, these needs can be classified according to a hierarchical structure of importance from the lowest to highest… Maslow’s Theory-Z in contrast to Theory-X, which stated that workers inherently dislike and avoid work and must be driven to it, and Theory-Y, which stated that work is natural and can be a source of satisfaction when aimed at higher order human psychological needs… The original Theory-X and Theory-Y were both written by Douglas McGregor, a social psychologist who is considered to be one of the top business thinkers of all time… According to Dr. William Ouchi; Theory-Z must increase employee loyalty to the company by providing a job for life with a strong focus on the well-being of the employee, both on and off the job… The secret to Japanese success, according to Ouchi, is not technology, but a special way of managing people. This is a managing style that focuses on a strong company philosophy, a distinct corporate culture, long-range staff development, and consensus decision-making…

According to Brian Tracy; perhaps the most important single factor in what makes an environment a ‘great place to work’ is trust. Trust exists when you can say; I can make a mistake at work without being criticized or fired. When people feel free to try new things in order to do the job more effectively, increase quality, and improve customer service, all of their time, attention, and energy is focused outward, toward getting the job done better. An inspiring leader is the most important person in any organization. The ‘leader sets the tone’ by the way he talks, behaves, responds to others, and treats people every day: When the leader treats people with courtesy and respect, everyone follows the lead and treats coworkers, and most important customers with the same courtesy and respect… The biggest job of a manager is to drive out fear and, in fact, one of the best measures of a high performance workplace is the degree to which people feel free to question the boss and disagree with his ideas or decision… The greater freedom that people have to speak up and express themselves, without fear, the more positive and powerful the work environment becomes… According to Lee Polevoion; successful business leaders must first understand their own management style, then they must be flexible enough to adapt-modify their style, as necessary, in order to motivate-cultivate the most productive work environment possible…

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Blended Management Styles– Changing, Adapting–Take Best of Each: Create a Hybrid That Works for Your Organization…

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Management style is an organization’s philosophy about managing people and resources, which reflects its values, beliefs, culture… Management style is about people and levels of trust, priorities, competitiveness… However in today’s globalize organizations, it’s time to move beyond the traditional thinking of management styles, such as; Theory X, Theory Y… Choices today are considerably more complex than merely deciding between management philosophies/styles, and instead it more about creating, adapting… hybrid, blended styles of management, for example; taking bits-pieces of different styles and combining them into one methodology that works most effective for your organization. According to Susan M. Heathfield; management styles reflect the relationship between management and employees and the degree in which management decides to involve employees in decision-making process. The style of management is fundamental in determining the relative competitiveness of the organization and as such, management style repertoires must be continually reviewed and improved so as to create better decision-making and a more successful work environment… According to Tannenbaum; there’s an evolving continuum between management and employees, and includes– increasing role for employees and decreasing role of management in decision-making process. The continuum incorporates the traditional styles of management, they include: Tellautocratic management style; represents top down–dictatorial decision-making with little employee input… Sellsell management style; management makes decisions, then tries to persuade the employees that their decision is correct… Consultconsultative management style; management solicits input from employees for decision-making, but retains the authority to make the final decision– key for success with consultative style is informing employees up-front that their input is important, but that management will make the final decision… Joinjoin management style; management invites employees to join in making decisions, and management and employees are equal partners in decision-making process… Delegatedelegate management style; management turns much of the decision-making over to employees, however, management requires critical path feedback for decisions along designated points in the process… According to Amanda Webster; the ‘right’ management style must meet the needs of customers, employees, stakeholders… The management style must be fluid and adaptable to change for most given situations… Over the last decade, styles of management have seen an evolution of sorts due to globalization and dynamism of corporations as entities… Also, the basic mission of management is evolving from focus just on profitability to also include; employee satisfaction, social responsibility… Bottom-line; the perfect blend of any management style must promote– humanity, best practices, innovation, and profitability for an organization…

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In the article How Management Styles are Changing by drjustinbarclay writes: The methods used by management to perform organization activities are questions of style, and management styles have evolved. This evolution in style – and the proliferation of additional nuanced styles – is a result of a combination of advances in technology, forms of organizations, as well as shifts in the prevailing workforce demographic… Technology has changed the way management works… technology is seen as an enabler that links global and diverse organizations and provides tightly linked transparency that furthers management objectives. Those objectives are no longer just driven by a desire to simply control aggregated activity and profit, but also driven by ‘purpose’. These trends have given way to written works such as: Hamel’s–The Future of Management; Benko & Anderson’s–The Corporate Lattice; Hallowell’s–Shine; as well as, Pascale, Sternin, & Sternin’s–The Power of Positive Deviance; just to name a few. While these texts describe very different facets of organizational life, they share the common thread of management doing all that’s possible to identify; what’s working in organizations, how best practice can be both identified and spread throughout the organization, and places the focus on the potential of the workforce, rather than upon controlling its activities. Management styles have thus changed from choosing between varying levels of commanding-controlling resources, to instead choosing between varying levels of interaction with the value chain of an organization and resources associated with that value chain. In essence, management style is now most impacted by considerations for epitasis, where the critical question is how management will choose to leverage their unique talents to influence organization’s ecosystem. Rather than simply asking– what are the organization’s responsibilities? Now instead, management is asking– what are the organization’s ‘knowledge’ and ‘influence networks’? Since knowledge and responsibility are being widely interspersed through-out the organization…

In the article How to Change Your Management Style by Lou Dubois writes: Assessing an organization’s management style and determining that its time for a change is not an easy task… There is no one size fits all style of management that works, as each organization is different– a management style, more or less, defines an approach to managing people…  According to Jon Picoult; The most effective way to figure out if a change is needed is to solicit feedback from people you’re managing or partnering with and the environment the business is operating in…One of the defining qualities of good management is that they have professional knowledge– they have self-knowledge, in other words, they can look inward to examine their own strengths and weaknesses, and they’re also willing and happy to listen to outside input on how they can grow and change for the better… A good management style adapts to its environment, and changes when they’re needed… But, the big challenge is actually effectively changing people’s behavior… The key element is being self-aware: If you’ve taken the first step to recognize that there must be something different–a better way, then that’s a huge first step. But you also must be really objective; step outside yourself and take a candid look at what you’re doing today and understand what you need to differently. So it’s not an easy task, and it requires somebody who is good at making calculated and informed decisions, without an ego. Once you do that, just follow that path… In making a management style-organization shift; it’s important to take top-down approach with transparency from a leadership perspective. If you are changing your management style, you must first assess and make changes within yourself… According to Heineman; internally–within organization, it’s always been about clarity, alignment, focus… creating team culture, environment where employees are highly incentivized to come up with ideas, try new things, whether they fail or succeed, empower employees to be upwardly mobile… Externally–outside organization, when changing management styles, it’s important to be up-front and candid with customers, partners, stakeholders…

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In the article New International Style of Management by Garry Emmons writes: There is an ever increasingly international style of management… According to John Quelch; the international management style is an amalgam that’s built atop Western models, which have been borrowed freely from others around the world… the Western models can be very ecumenical, flexible, and open to new ideas and people: It learns from best practices in other countries and adapts accordingly… over time this kind of cross-pollination of a global management style will look less like its Western origin and more like something completely multinational... According to Rohit Deshpandé; more multinationals strive to achieve certain types of management characteristics and best practice, in order to make themselves globally competitive, even if those desired traits are not necessarily found in, or may be contrary to, the native business culture of the company’s home country. Thus, while the average companies in France, Germany, Japan… may all appear to be quite different from each other, all of these countries’ best-performing multinationals look quite similar… These findings suggest that excellence in global corporate competition demands certain success enabling management characteristics and best practices, which for top multinationals means that the corporate culture may need to trump the national culture… According to Irina Gaida; in a multicultural environment, management must strive to strike a balance between their own national cultural and being open to other value systems, management styles, and decision-making processes… many companies are finding that management and employees are willing to adjust their behavior to facilitate teamwork… This mutual adjustment eventually becomes the norm within an organization...

Management style is one of those phrases bandied about in all workplaces, and it’s a catch-all; when we say it, we have to clarify and add more to better convey what we mean. Our management style can be seen in a good light, for example: He’s very compassionate, and fiercely protective of his team… Or, it can be negatively perceived, for example: She’s a micro-manager and just can’t keep her nose out of my work. The good is often said in gratitude, and the not-so-good as grumbled whisper. So: What’s your management style like? But, more important question: Would your team agree with you, or say something different? Much of what is important in management at a particular moment has less to do with what you do, than what you have done. The culture you’ve created, the training that you’ve given, the motivation you’ve encouraged and the people who you’ve hired have all laid the groundwork to the response of your team at any given time… To achieve the level of innovation required for competitive advantage today, we must achieve a better balance of power throughout organizations. Employees need to be more fully engaged in making strategic decisions, and in planning and organizing more of their own work. To break the stranglehold of ‘organization-as-person metaphor’, employees must share in strategic thinking. Such ownership is the only way to achieve deep engagement; and as a result, management must do less telling and more facilitating, which means doing more asking, as in– What do you think?

 

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Organizations Don’t Fail Leaders Do– Clueless, Visionless, Reckless, Feckless: Where Have All The Great Leaders Gone?

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Leaders fail mostly because they are: Clueless–incompetent, ignorant, inexperienced, naive, lacking understanding or knowledge… Reckless–careless, irresponsible, foolhardy, inattentive, mindless, thoughtless… Feckless–ineffective, lacking thought, organization necessary to succeed, careless, lacking purpose… Visionless–lacking intelligent foresight, imagination, uninspired… According to Mike Myatt; when you strip away all the excuses, explanations, rationalizations and justifications for organization failure, you’ll find only one plausible reason– poor leaders and leadership. When examining the responsibilities of leaders and leadership that are directly attributed to the organization’s failure some of the more common reasons include: Lack of vision, lack of execution, flawed strategy, poor management, toxic culture, no innovation, inability to attract and retain talent… Leading to conclusion and general consensus that ‘organizations don’t fail leaders do’… According to Ron Ashkenas; leaders of the past almost always seem more effective than those of today– it’s a perceptual bias: We long for what we don’t have, and mythologize what we used to have. But even taking this bias into consideration, many of today’s leaders don’t seem to measure up to our expectations… According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School last year, 68% of Americans believe that there is a leadership crisis. Many people speak about leaders of the past decades and how they not only inspired confidence, but also respect, reverence, passion… Sure these past leaders had their flaws as well, but they were courageous and decisive and could communicate in ways that made it clear what they stood for… According to a study by the search firm Crist Kolder Associates; CEO turnover in Fortune 500 and S&P 500 firms are running at 13%, up from 10% last year. However, the irony is that more money has been spent on leadership development in the last two decades– in both the public and private sectors– than was probably spent in the previous ten decades combined… So why are we not turning out better leaders across the board? Of course comparing leaders from different generations has no right answer– just like the arguments about who would win an athletic contest between teams from different eras. But if reflecting on the question helps to find ways of improving leaders-leadership effectiveness today, maybe its worth some debate…

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In the article Where Have All The Leaders Gone? by Lee Iacocca writes: A leader is strong and confident, someone who is not deterred by criticism, setbacks. A leader is disciplined, focused, hard-working, unrelenting… Leaders inspire people to believe in themselves… But sadly, as I look at the world stage today, I do not see great leaders– leaders who are willing to make the difficult decisions required to move us out of economic and political crisis… For example; can you think of a single current leader who stands tall alongside the likes of Lincoln, Gandhi, Churchill, Eisenhower, Reagan, Mandela, Thatcher, Gorbachev, Martin Luther King, or Franklin Roosevelt? Whether we agreed with or even liked these people– and most of them were very controversial during their day– we cannot doubt that they were true leaders in every way. They were strong, inspiring, disciplined, unrelenting, and focused. They had clear articulated visions and believed in ideals, principles… larger than themselves, had goodness in their hearts, and were undeterred by criticism… However, there is an interesting irony– that even with the assumption that today’s world lacks great leaders the world has, arguably, never been a better place even with all of its faults… As a whole and even with some glaring exceptions, the world is more civilized, better educated, less threatened by wars and disease, better integrated, less discriminatory, better fed and housed, and more democratic and peaceful than just a few centuries or even a few decades ago… We have come a very long way in a relatively short time, but much remains to be done. We need a new generation of business, education, religious, and political leaders to help us get to an even better place… I don’t know where all the great leaders have gone, but I’ve concluded that a more important question: How do we produce the new great leaders we so desperately need?

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In the article Getting Stuck in Clueless as a Leader by writes: We’ve all been clueless at some point in our life; the place where you ‘don’t know what you don’t know’. But, leaders getting stuck in ‘clueless’ are dangerous. Leaders that hold an underlying leadership belief that ‘ignorance is bliss’ is a sure path to failure. When you hear leaders using the more socially acceptable ‘not having enough time’ or ‘it’s not my job’ explanation for not dealing with people problems or thorny cross department issues… what you are really hearing is their belief in ‘ignorance is bliss’. Leaders get stuck in clueless because the alternative state, being anxious (where we ‘know that we don’t know’) is too uncomfortable. It’s the place where we have to make a conscious decision to change how we are managing or thinking, or pretend there is no problem, or that a problem doesn’t have anything to do with me… Anxiety serves a critical role for leaders; it can jump-start your curiosity making you most open to learning… It’s when you can acquire the knowledge and skill you need to solve a problem, create a new solution, find a new way… However, if you don’t capture your anxiety and manage it with thoughtful reflection, you’ll find yourself in one of two places: The activity trap– where you feel compelled to take lots of action or create lots of activity with few results… Or, the dig in your heels trap– where defensiveness takes over and you resist any efforts for change… According to Bob Rosen; healthy leaders possess three features of intellectual health– deep curiosity, adaptive mindset, paradoxical thinking– that will equip them to handle the complexities that beset an organization. How you think about things creates the framework for how you will respond: If you think feeling anxious is bad, too uncomfortable, then you will most likely postpone dealing with the red flags that pop in the organization– things fester and then you must deal with a crisis… Instead, build a curious brain; take the time to stop– take a breath, reflect, simply ask questions. When you invest in learning, you can actually—‘get to know what you don’t know’...

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In the article When Leaders Don’t Lead: Consequences, Causes, Cures by Bill Cole and Rick Seaman write: There are occasions when leaders are unwilling or unable to lead… The consequences of failure to lead will vary with the severity of the situation. When business conditions are fairly stable and competitive environment is not particularly demanding, leaders failure may not be that damaging and often mitigated… However, when business is going through dramatic change, failure of leaders to actively lead the company through the changes can be catastrophic. Biggest risk of failed leadership is when the competitive environment is changing rapidly but the corresponding changes in the organization are either too little or too late, such that the organization is unable to satisfy their customers’ needs… and that puts organization’s very survival at stake– often the leader’s actions are too late to do anything about it… Leaders who think inaction is a viable choice delude themselves and they unfortunately believe they can continue with the status quo and the hope that the problems will go away, which is clearly a dangerous delusion…

Leaders fail because they allow themselves to become narrow, while thinking that they are being broad and inclusive. Leaders fail when they are overly focused and listen only to their own intentions rather than being– agile, reflective… they become visionless, clueless, reckless… According to Gary Rushin; inept leaders and leadership causes organization failure… strip away all the excuses, explanations, rationalizations, and justifications for failure and, in the majority of cases, it’s just poor leaders and leadership… According to Joel Kurtzman; leaders need to learn from failure, and create an environment where it’s safe to fail, an environment that supports innovative behavior. In an environment where people are tolerant of failure then– there are more new ideas,  more people embark on new paths, start new initiatives, break new ground… According to Gael O’Brien; during crises or challenges, some leaders know how to relate to what employees are feeling, and get them to respond, focus, perform… They are resilient because they understand how to work and collaborate with the team… According to Sam Palazzolo; most people think of Richard Branson as today’s ‘uber-successful’ billionaire, or as the Queen calls him ‘Sir Richard Branson’. However, did you know that Branson spent much of his business life doing things that could be considered ‘clueless’? For example: He knew nothing about retail, so decided to start a record store–Clueless. He decided to start an airline (again, a risky and complex business that he knew absolutely nothing about)–Clueless. Recently, he’s determined to create the world’s first airline dedicated to outer space flight travel–Clueless… So, the next time you are approached because of your ‘clueless’ leadership thoughts-positions by your peers, superior-subordinates, or even yourself, you might want to rethink that input… It appears as though Richard Branson is not only exhibiting leadership with a ‘clue’, but also because he seems to be having one heck of a great time doing it!  Then, what’s wrong with being ‘clueless’ if these are the results? So, go forth… Be clueless, or Not!

 

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Inspiration Leadership and Aspiration Management Drives Business Success: Motivation Shifts– Inspire, Aspire, Achieve

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Inspiration leadership is often seen as the key to creating a successful business; however, businesses that are led by aspiration management are also notably successful. Hence, although inspiration leadership and aspiration leadership may have different drivers, they can both deliver positive results… According to Kate Tojeiro; organizations that are based on inspiration style leadership have a clear vision of what they should stand for and where they are going. This leadership is inclusive by nature and it connects well with employees and is able to articulate its vision in a way that is compelling to those around them. These companies tend to be driven by innovation and creativity and tend not to be risk-averse, for example; Apple, Google, Amazon… Whereas the aspiration style of leadership is driven by a different set of rules, for example; size, influence, market share, geographic spread… and these factors tend to be more important than innovation or creativity… These companies are often more hierarchical than those that are inspiration led, for example; businesses in media, banking, pharma, telecom… are typical of those with an aspiration management. Although clearly different in their styles, there are definite cross-over between these two types of organization… an ideal organization is structured with a mix of both inspiration and aspiration leadership styles

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In the article Business Motivation by Nancy Wurtzel writes: Motivation is a complicated subject that is studied by many and understood by few. Virtually every aspect of human life– from the mundane to the life-changing– is guided, swayed and altered by motivating factors… Motivation is one of the most powerful driving forces in the workplace. It can mean the difference between tremendous success and failure. Motivation stems from two sources. The first part of motivation is external or extrinsic (outside the person) sources. Other motivating factors come from internal forces, which are mainly people’s thoughts, patterns and collective experiences. However, humans are unique; what motivates one person will not necessarily motivate another. You– and only you– will be able to determine what works for you. Take the time to examine what internal and external factors are motivating you as a business person. Here are a few keys for motivation that may prove helpful.

  • Inspiration: Inspiration is critical to getting and staying  motivated. If you are not interested in your business, your motivation level will never be high and you won’t be able to sustain interest for very long.
  • Setting Goals: Short and long-term goal setting is vital… If you didn’t set goals, you would be adrift with nothing to strive for and no charted course to follow.
  • Networking: Network with other business people. One person can’t move a huge mountain but when a number of people work together the mountain is suddenly only a small hill– these are simply challenges waiting to be surmounted.
  • Reward Yourself: All work and no play is a huge mistake. Your motivation will soon begin to fall if you never take any time away from the demands of business. So, plan frequent rewards for yourself.
  • Exercise: There is a powerful connection between the mind and the body. It’s vital to take breaks and exercise, everyday. If your body isn’t healthy; your mind, concentration, and motivation will certainly suffer.
  • Organize: Organization is critical to motivation; vision, strategy, plan, structure, focus, effective time management…

In the article Brand Shift for 2013: From Aspiration To Inspiration by Alan Snitow writes: Great brands, those brands most in touch in with consumer sentiment, have evolved their message from one of aspiration to one of inspiration. They are focused less on what they can give, and more on what consumers themselves can achieve. In those very same aspiration prone categories, quintessentially U.S. companies are calling on consumers to make a better world for themselves, by themselves. These brands have realized their role is not to be the solution, but to be the motivation for one. The call to action isn’t merely to buy something, but to build something. Of course, some brands have always acted thusly, particularly in categories predicated on personal achievement, like sporting goods. What’s interesting is how badge brands, whether of style, wealth, wisdom, or popularity, have taken the same tack… And perhaps, brands will continue to benefit from the lessons of these last few years and remember that inspiration can be as powerful a proposition as aspiration...

In the article How To Succeed–Or Keep On Trying by biglittlewolf writes: I read not only to learn but to be informed, entertained… but most important, for inspiration. I recognize that both aspiration and inspiration can generate motivation. And, I am clear on the difference: The definition of aspiration is a strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition: intellectual aspirations; a goal or objective desired… The definition of inspiration is imparting inspiration (stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings to a special act of creativity; person or idea that causes this state) I am keenly aware that I may aspire to a way of life and never attain it… Our aspirations form part of who we are, what we seek to accomplish, how we look, how we feel, how we live, what we define as success. There is much to be enjoyed and learned from aspiration magazines, books, films… as long as we don’t presume that we must inhabit the entirety of this posed and painted picture of perfection, that anything less is failure, that anything less is lacking in value, that if we don’t arrive at the desired state it’s because we are lacking in value… As for inspiration, it’s a different matter: It stimulates the mind, it engages the most profound emotions; it stirs us to action whether to chase after our own dreams, or to help others pursue theirs. Some of us need aspiration; others need inspiration. I know that I rely on a reasonable dose of both; they may overlap and coexist and they do generate motivation...

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In the article Inspiration or Aspiration by Kate Tojeiro writes: Most businesses today, particularly large multinationals (the most noticeable and easiest to scrutinize), are driven by two distinct styles of management; inspiration led and aspiration led styles… Developing a leadership style to address the changing needs of business will ultimately involve everyone in the organization, not just those at senior management levels. It’s certainly accepted that– what has worked well in buoyant times is unlikely to be as effective in difficult economic times. Traditional ways of thinking and operating will need to be challenged if companies are to remain strong and competitive. To quote Mark Twain; if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got… It’s about being prepared to change, then driving that change forward, both on an individual and corporate level… Great leaders are those who concentrate their energies on the things they are good at, and totally acknowledge the things they are not good at. Irrespective of whether their style is inspiration led or aspiration led, they are comfortable with the fact that they alone cannot achieve everything, so they surround themselves with good people who have skills to achieve what they cannot… These leaders are able to inspire others, in their organization, to achieve greatness… Both inspiration and aspiration styles of leadership can be effective even when an economic collapse threatens the very existence of a business. Where there is a desire or a need to change an existing leadership style, business leaders should choose from the attributes of existing styles and nurture an approach that best suits them. The overriding objective, however, is not to create a style that becomes formulaic, but a style that is sustainable and repeatable…

In the article Get Motivated in Your Business by Dennis L. Prince writes: One of the top causes of waning motivation is unclear goals. If you don’t have a clear plan to reach your goals, it’s not surprising that you lose motivation… goal-setting is directly related to how you define the start of the journey and how finely you chart the key milestones you need to achieve it. Setting milestones can empirically define what success along the way looks like. When you see and attain it, you will stay motivated knowing you are on the right path… Milestones are crucial to staying motivated… A key benefit of setting milestones, besides ensuring you’re staying on the right track, is to reassure yourself that you are making good progress. When you reach a milestone, celebrate it… Much of what keeps business people charged up is taking the excitement and confidence gained from a goal you’ve reached, and eagerly pouring that into their next quest. That’s the core of motivation– it fuels your inspiration and aspiration for moving your business ahead, year after year…

Achievement, accomplishment, prosperity… all of these words is a synonym for success… According to Reckless; we live in an aspiration society… Aspiration refers to material things you can possess, whereas inspiration refers to immaterial things you– wish to be. When you choose– ‘to have’ versus ‘to be’– you set yourself up for disappointment and frustration… A strong desire can help you get inspired and aspire… However: What comes first, inspiration or aspiration? Many sources of inspiration can help you in achieving success in life. But, arguing about which comes first whether inspiration or aspiration is not one of them. The important thing is to find your true source of inspiration and to remain focused in the achievement of your goals… If the vision of a CEO is aspiration, then the team must be inspired to works towards actualizing it. It tells the team ‘what’ to achieve; it’s inspirational, and hence motivates the team to make the vision a reality… Aligning people to the business vision or goal alignment in aspiration management context is about creating the right balance between the business and individual aspirations and goals… Motivation plays a critical role in influencing workplace behavior and performance. There are many theories of motivation and including; Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s two-factor theory, Alderfer’s ERG theory, Goal-setting theory, Models of behavior change, Theory X and Theory Y… However, the basic objective in motivation is to strike the right balance between the organizational growth opportunities (business aspirations) and personal growth opportunities (career aspirations)… Motivation is what moves us forward in our personal and business lives… So, take the time to examine your motivating factors, improve your focus, renew your enthusiasm, and keep on track… and, the motivational momentum of your inspirations and aspirations will carry you forward…

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International Trade– Models, Benefits, Risks: Global Economic Outlook, 2013… Open Markets Drive Trade Development

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International Trade: Countries cannot live in isolation. They must mutually share their resources, technical know-how, products and services, and undertake international trade in order to grow their economies and prosper… The world economies are closely inter-dependent; economic progress of all nations depends on their ties with other countries… International trade is a vital engine for economic development, and in most countries it represents a significant share of their gross domestic product (GDP)… According to Ben Bernanke: In U. S., as best we can measure, international trade is critically important. According to one study that used four approaches to measuring the gains from international trade, the increase in trade since World War II has boosted U.S. annual incomes on the order of $10,000 per household (research by Bradford, Grieco, and Hufbauer). The same study found that removing all remaining barriers to trade (i.e., free trade) would raise U.S. incomes anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000 per household. Other research has found similar results. Our willingness to trade freely with the world is indeed an essential source of our prosperity– and I think it’s safe to say that the importance of trade for the U.S. will continue to grow… While international trade has been present throughout much of history, its economic, social, and political importance has been on the rise in recent centuries… The classical model of international trade was developed over 200 years ago by Adam Smith. He believed that different countries possessed unique advantages in the production of certain goods. He then showed that world output would rise if countries traded freely along the lines of their productive advantages... Torrens and Ricardo expanded on this theory by showing that even if a country did not have an absolute advantage in any goods, both it and other countries would still benefit from international trade. This would be the case if countries specialized in the production of goods with which they had the greatest absolute advantage, or the least absolute disadvantage– this is known as law of comparative advantage… Pre-trade relative prices, in many cases, determine the direction of comparative advantage and therefore the direction of trade… International trade is most commonly recognized as the exchange of goods or products; however, trading services such as, expertise in a particular field or the ability to facilitate the trade of goods is another common form of foreign trade. Trading capital on the foreign exchange market (FOREX) represents a third facet of international trade. Capital or currency held for foreign trade fluctuates in value hourly due to political, business, weather and other conditions and factors from nation to nation. Trading currency in the international market attempts to profit from the rising value of one nation’s currency through selling the lower value of another nation’s capital…

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In the article Different Types of International Trade Models?  by Peter Hann writes: International trade models may be traced back at least to the theory of absolute advantage put forward by Adam Smith. This theory demonstrated that it was beneficial for a country to specialize and to engage in international trade if it could produce some goods more efficiently than its trading partners. This theory was further developed by the comparative advantage theory of David Ricardo, which showed that a country should specialize in those goods in whose production it was comparatively efficient. Ricardo’s theory has been further refined in more recent times to produce neo-Ricardian theory that uses fewer assumptions than the original theory. Other important international trade models include; the Heckscher-Ohlin theory that emphasizes the importance of factors of production in a country, and the gravity theory that looks at the size and proximity of trading partners. While Smith only demonstrated that international trade was beneficial in certain specific circumstances, Ricardo’s theory showed it always makes sense for a country to specialize in producing those goods and services in which it is comparatively most efficient. This specialization increases productivity and boosts the total output of the country. A country does not need to have an absolute advantage in producing goods provided the opportunity cost of producing the goods is lower than that of its trading partners in producing the same goods. Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage uses numerous assumptions. For example, it assumes that the only input to industrial production is labor and that labor is mobile between industries, but not between countries. Modern refinements to Ricardian theory have produced international trade models that can demonstrate comparative advantage across a range of goods and countries, rather than Ricardo’s original model that used two countries and two categories of goods. The Heckscher-Ohlin model of international trade emphasizes the resources available in each country and stresses the importance of factors of production in each country. The abundance of factors such as, labor or capital in a country determines the type of international trade the country engages in. The country produces and exports goods that take advantage of the factors of production that are abundant, and will import those goods that require the input of factors of production that are scarce in the country. International trade models also include the gravity model that looks at the economic mass of each country and the distance between the trading partners. The gravity model arrives at a prediction of the trade flows between the countries based on these elements and other factors such as, the historical context between countries that have affected trading patterns…

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Global Economic Outlook 2013, May 2013 Update: According to the World Trade Organization (WTO); global commerce is set to grow by 3.3% in 2013, as persistent gloom in the EU led it to cut a previous forecast of 4.5%. The announcement marked the second time that the WTO has reined in its figures for 2013, after initially estimating that world trade would expand by 5.6%. The WTO report said: In 2013, improved economic prospects for U. S. should only partly offset continued weakness in the EU, whose economy is expected to remain flat or even contract slightly according to consensus estimates; and, China’s growth should continue to outpace other leading economies, cushioning the slowdown, but exports will still be constrained by weak demand in the EU. As a result, this year looks set to be a near repeat of 2012, with both trade and output expanding slowly… In 2012, the WTO said, global commerce expanded by 2.0% from the level in 2011, compared with growth of 5.2% that year. In 2012, the dollar value of world merchandise exports increased by 0.2% to $18.3 trillion… That trend was driven by falling prices for traded goods with commodities such as; coffee, cotton, iron ore and coal seeing major drops, while oil remained relatively stable. Meanwhile, the value of world commercial services exports rose by 2.0% to $4.3 trillion…

 In 2013, First Quarter Trade Results: Merchandise trade growth increased in major economies during the First Quarter of 2013. Compared to Fourth Quarter of 2012, value of merchandise imports and exports for the total of G7 and BRICS countries increased by 1.3% and 2.8%, respectively. Compared to the previous quarter, merchandise– imports and exports– increased in First Quarter of 2013 in most major economies, for example: Germany (by 3.9% and 4.8%), China (by 0.9% and 5.6%), Brazil (by 5.1% and 4.9%), U. S. (by 0.7% and 1.0%), Italy (by 1.4% and 3.2%), Canada (by 1.6% and 1.2%), France (by 0.5% and 1.9%), and Russian Federation (by 4.9% and 0.0%). Conversely imports grew and exports contracted in South Africa (by 4.3% and minus 0.3%), while the opposite pattern (i.e. imports contracted and exports increased) held in UK (by minus 0.3% and 1.3%) and in India (by minus 0.9% and 6.1%). In Japan, imports contracted slightly in the First Quarter of 2013 (by minus 0.1%), whereas exports decreased more significantly (by minus 2.3%) for the fourth consecutive quarter…

Most countries of the world cannot have a growing economy or lift the wages and incomes of their citizens unless reach beyond their borders and sell products, services… to the world’s populations…  Exports support millions of jobs worldwide, for example; in U.S. more than 50 million workers are employed by companies that are engaged in global trade, and this represents approximately 40% of the U.S. private sector workforce… Often overlooked is the fact that more than 97% of the quarter million U.S. companies that export are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and they account for nearly a third of U.S. merchandise exports… International investment is also critical to the future prospects of world business, for example; multinational corporations earn trillions of dollars in revenue through their foreign operations, which create tremendous value for stakeholders… There are both benefits and pitfalls in international trade, and how these are managed determines the relative success of operations… Consider benefits: When trading internationally the universe of potential customers and suppliers increases significantly… The idea that a business relies solely on one market (e.g., home country) and directs all its resources into a single currency may prove to be more risky than it may first seem. Just look at the number of unprecedented global disasters over the last few years and the drastic impacts these have had on markets… While expanding beyond home markets can increase sales, provide better profit margins, reduce pricing pressure, and could reduce seasonal market fluctuations… The ability to stand out from competitors is a crucial factor in business: In the home market your business may be viewed as comparable to competitors, but when placed in another country’s environment it may be considered a unique product or service not to be missed. By making the product or service available to worldwide buyers, you instantly create another life-line for the business… boost sales potential and allow your business to flourish… However there are pitfalls, in international trade, and the key is managing risk… First and foremost, it’s crucial that you have a clear understanding of what international trade involves. It’s easy to become engulfed in the excitement of its benefits and marginalize risks… For example, it’s dangerous to assume that laws in countries are similar to those of the home country… and most critical is the development of meaningful relationships in the target countries… With so many aspects to consider when trading at an international level, it’s easy to leave currency exchange to the last-minute, and it could have a negative impact on business’ profit, and if you do not plan ahead, the market’s volatility could always change the worth of the currency– and not always for the best… International trade and investment is inevitable part of world economy, but international trade has to be approached sensibly and with a clear thought process so as to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks…

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Datafication– Reflects the Past and Drives the Future: A Revolution That is Changing How We Live, Work, Think…

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Datafication is the transformation of our entire world into oceans of data that can be explored– and providing a new perspective on reality. Datafication takes all aspects of life, and transforms it into a data format that makes it quantified; for example, Twitter datafies stray thoughts, LinkedIn datafies professional networks… Once things are datafied, we can transform their purpose and turn the data into new forms of value… Ultimately, datafication marks the moment when our information society finally fulfills the promise implied by its name… Data are center stage: All those digital bits that have been gathered can now be harnessed in novel ways to serve new purposes and unlock new forms of value. But it requires a new way of thinking; datafication is a resource and a tool and it’s meant to inform, rather than explain it points toward understanding but it can still lead to misunderstanding, depending on how well it’s wielded… So how is datafication being used to shape our business activities and create new forms of values? Collecting data is not enough; it depends on how data is used to unlock its values, not only its primary use but also its reuse– its option value. In other words, quantifying things that we didn’t previously think to quantify. One way that we are probably being datafied right now is by location: Smartphone applications draw upon our real-time geographic coordinates to recommend– restaurants, events… Social media also lends an interesting perspective on how society is now datafied… These online interactions can shed much light into our social dynamics and cultural future. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, showing that datafication can apply to just about anything. Even though datafication holds enormous opportunity and value, there are negative impacts on privacy and sense of freedom… We didn’t used to look at our friends and view them as a rich source for data, but Facebook changed that by datafying friends… Similarly, we never used to think of our whispers, stray thoughts, professional networks as data-producing entities. Yet, according to Kenneth Cukier; Twitter, LinkedIn… changed that too. In short, we are datifying many aspects of our lives that we never actually thought as being informational before… and we’re just at the outset of the datafication era… consider all the potential uses of datafication as we move forward into the future…

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In the article New Buzzword: Datafication by Jeff Bertolucci writes: Just when you thought you had mastered all the data-riffic buzzwords out there, another rears its trendy head. We’re talking about datafication; the notion that organizations today are dependent upon data to operate properly– and perhaps even to function at all. According to Andrew Waitman; datafication is a different concept– what’s happening in the world of data is that more businesses are fundamentally data businesses. Even if you think of– online retail, online grocery stores… they don’t operate without data infrastructure. According to Waitman; you could argue that no online business could be operating without their backend data infrastructure… As trends go, datafication is not new: Many multinational corporations have processed and analyzed massive data sets for decades, but with little fanfare. For example, financial, energy, retail… were early adopters of data-style analysis… Walmart and Target have been doing large data analysis for years– storing large volumes of customer data– and than later going back and doing post-analysis of that data. Google has done big data analysis since it started for optimizing their search engines… The ubiquity of powerful and personalized computing devices combined with– store everything mentality– has made it easier for organizations to analyze huge data sets. Decades ago, people had to make decisions on the metrics they needed and the specific data type that they were going to store in the mainframe computers. But now you store everything, and do a post-facto query. In today’s big data world, organizations typically capture and store all information, even if they’re not sure what insights the data will provide…

In the article Rise of Big Data, Big Brother by Cathy O’Neil writes: Datafication is an interesting concept: We are being datafied or rather our actions are and when we ‘like’ someone or something online, we are intending to be datafied or at least we should expect to be. But when we merely browse the web, we are unintentionally or at least passively being datafied through cookies that we might or might not be aware. And when we walk around in stores or even on streets, we are being datafied in completely unintentional way… This spectrum of intentionality ranges from us gleefully taking part in a social media experiment we are proud of to all-out surveillance and stalking. But it’s all datafication. Our intentions may run the gambit, but the results don’t… Once we datafy things, we can transform their purpose and turn the information into new forms of value. But, who is ‘we’ and what kind of value? If you assumed that ‘we’ means– the people– then, you might re-think it, since ‘we’ really means– companies, governments… and they are becoming more efficient with datafication. According to Cukier-Mayer-Schoenberger; the datafication revolution consists of three things: 1. Collecting and using a lot of data rather than small samples. 2. Accepting messiness in your data. 3. Giving up on knowing the causes. They describe these steps in rather grand fashion by claiming that datafication doesn’t need to understand causes because the data is so enormous. It doesn’t need to worry about sampling error because it’s literally keeping track of the truth– it’s all really about understanding what we can do with data and the potential behind it…

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In the article Datafication: Lens of How We See Ourselves by Lyndsay Grant writes: Datafication is both backward-facing, representing what has happened so far and also forward-facing, driving future behavior… Yet the way that datafication informs future action is not always straightforward… While providing an illusion of certainty and control, the data itself only provides a starting point for asking more questions… Facebook is a prime example of how datafication attempts to influence our behavior, for example; displaying numbers of our– likes, shares, comments, friends… Facebook encourages its users to spend more time on the site creating and sharing content, which will increase our numbers and that provides more valuable data about us, which makes it easier for marketers to effectively target us with advertisements… The use of data to drive online behavior does not stop at Facebook. By using cookies to track interaction across multiple sites and then aggregating this information, marketers get an even more accurate and nuanced picture of who you are, and therefore the advertisements you are more likely to respond to… The effects of datafication also arguably extend to our offline behavior, and influence how we see ourselves and the world around us. If numbers of our– friends, likes, comments… are what drives our interaction online, then particular attitudes and perspectives are being cultivated that we may carry offline… While datafication may give the illusion of more certainty about us and our world, it does not in itself provide final answers. If data is to open up opportunities for thinking and acting differently in the future, it can only ever really succeed in posing more questions… According to Dawn Nafus; this is the more-and-yet-less quality of data. Measuring data gives more information, but only succeeds in posing more questions about what data really means…

Datafication exposes variability and enhances value: Companies use data to create better products, airlines use data to plan flights at times… Datafication leads also to improved decision-making, e.g., companies like Proctor and Gamble use their data to plan expansions into new markets… According to an MIT Sloan study; companies that utilize data driven decision-making have seen 5-6% greater output and productivity than what was expected… A recent McKinsey report says; the next frontier for innovation is in healthcare, and if data is used creatively and effectively it will drive efficiency and quality, which could create more than $300 billion in value every year… According to Viktor Mayer Schönberger-Kenneth Cukier; the scale of datafication allows us to extract new insights and create new forms of value in ways that will fundamentally change how we interact with one another. These new insights can be used for good or for ill, but that’s true of any new piece of knowledge, but what is most disconcerting about datafication– it’s on a direct collision course with our traditional privacy paradigms… The fear is that well-meaning organizations may become so fixated on the data and so obsessed with the power and promise it offers that they will fail to appreciate its limitations… According to Kate Crawford; datafication is full of hidden biases… data and data sets are not objective, they are creations of human design… Organizations and individuals must become more aware of the biases and assumptions that underlie the datafied world. According to Jules Polonetsky and Omer Tene; organizations must disclose the logic underlying their decision-making processes, as best as possible, without compromising their algorithmic– secret sauce. This information has two key benefits: it allows us to monitor how data is used and it also allows individuals to become more active participants in how their data is used… According to Paul Vallée; while many organizations are coming to grips with the brute impact of the data explosion, others are already starting to experience some of its deeper consequences… Businesses create trillions of bytes of data each day. People share more than 30 billion pieces of content a month on Facebook… Passive devices like sensors in cars, computers, smartphones, energy meters… log trillions of bytes… Datafication is a resource and a tool. It is meant to inform, rather than explain; it points toward understanding but it can still lead to misunderstanding, depending on how well it is wielded. And, however dazzling the power of datafication may appear, we must not be blinded by its inherent imperfections… Rather, we must adopt the technology with an appreciation not just of its power, but also of its limitations…

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Mind Mapping– Create a Visual Map That Sees Things Clearly: Capture–Concepts, Ideas, Plans, Strategy…

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Mind Mapping: Mind mapping is the most effective, ‘brain friendly’ way for you to turn your unorganized, fleeting ideas and thoughts into a structured, visual ‘map’. A mind map resembles the visual aspects of a flow chart and the organization structure of an outline… Mind mapping is a creative and logical means of note-taking and note-making that visually ‘maps-out’ your ideas. All mind-maps have some things in common: They have a natural organizational structure that radiates from the center and use lines, symbols, words, color and images according to simple, brain-friendly concepts. Mind mapping converts a long list of monotonous information into a colorful, memorable and highly organized diagram that works in line with your brain’s natural way of doing things… One simple way to understand a mind-map is by comparing it to a map of a city. The city center represents the main idea; main roads leading from the center represent the key thoughts in your thinking process; the secondary roads or branches represent your secondary thoughts, and so on. Special images or shapes can represent landmarks of interest or particularly relevant ideas. The mind-map is the external mirror of your own radiant or natural thinking facilitated by a powerful graphic process, which provides the universal key to unlock the dynamic potential of the brain… The technique of ‘concept mapping’ was developed by Joseph Novak at Cornell… Concept maps have their origin in the learning movement called constructivism. In particular, constructivists hold that prior knowledge is used as a framework to learn new knowledge. In essence, how we think influences how and what we learn. According to Grayson Walker; concept maps identify the way we think, the way we see relationships between knowledge…

mind2 imagesCAQ063CZMind Mapping and Strategic Planning: There are many different definitions of strategic planning, but the most common always includes the phrase– ‘big picture thinking’… And, the ideal tool for strategic planning– viewing the big picture– is mind mapping; there is simply no better way to conceptualize, refine, compile, organize and share strategic-level idea… The possibilities for developing and visualizing business strategies are limitless. Start with a theme – long-term planning, medium term goals, or even something specific like ‘increase market share by 25% in 180 days’… Then let the ideas start flowing. Keep the primary ideas connected to the central idea, then within subtopics let additional, specific thoughts radiate outward. Don’t over-think – let the ideas flow as long as there’s energy in the room to continue. At some point in the strategic planning process take a step back and look at your mind map. If something stands out as really valuable, make that the center topic of a new map and start the process all over again… keep going until the creative energy is diminished. The end result will be more useful and infinitely more elegant than straightforward idea generation. Relationships will be visible, associations are clear, in short; the big picture will be right there in front of you… The term ‘mind map’ was first popularized by Tony Buzan– who argued that while ‘traditional outlines’ force readers to scan left to right and top to bottom, readers actually tend to scan the entire page in a non-linear fashion. When compared with the concept map the structure of a mind map is a similar radial, but is simplified by having one central key word… Mind maps are used for– personal, educational, business situations… and some applications include; note taking, problem solving, brainstorming,  framework design, relationships, team building, collaborations…

In the article Mind Map Your Strategic Business Plan! by Fred E. Miller writes: When working on a business plan, one of the challenges is to include and expand upon, as many inside and outside factors that have, or could have, an impact on your success. Putting all these together, showing how they connect, inter-connect, and not leaving out anything is a major challenge… One of the best tools for getting started on your strategic plan is by using– mind mapping. The simple definition of– mind mapping is that it’s non-linear brainstorming… It’s a visual technique that works the way our brains work by bringing together the left linear and right creative, sides of the brain. Traditionally, planning is done in a linear format, which means that you are, essentially, trying to organize thoughts before you develop them. Your brain doesn’t think this way. Mind mapping works the way your brain works. Very briefly the steps are this:

  • Start with the paper in the landscape mode.
  • Place your main subject, e.g., ‘strategic plan’, in the middle.
  • Radiating from the center out, place your subtopics.
  • Use keywords, pictures, and symbols to trigger more ideas. Our brain does this naturally!
  • Use colors to show themes and associations.
  • Reorganize, edit and prioritize your map.

Revisit and revise the map often– very often– as business conditions are very fluid. The strategic plan should be able to change and reflect this. Mind mapping is one of the best ways to develop the most ideas and solutions to everyday challenges and opportunities, and definitely a great tool to get started on a ‘strategic business plan’. There are several reasons developing a strategic plan with this tool can be especially effective:

  • Everything, meaning all elements of your plan, can literally and figuratively be ‘on the same page’, thereby giving all stakeholders the ‘big picture’.
  • Seeing how all the pieces fit together can be paramount to implementing and succeeding with your plan.

Visually seeing everything will trigger far more, than when you are just looking at a linear, black and white outline of a business plan. Seeing everything helps eliminate being blind-sided when conditions change. A business, and everything that affects it is organic; meaning things are not static, but are constantly changing. An effective strategic plan must take this continuous change into account, and constantly be tweaked to reflect those changes. Regularly looking at a mind map, which is easily understood and easily modified, just makes sense. In today’s radically changing economy; a business plan developed six months ago may not contain the correct contingencies and if not revisited often– could be mostly worthless. For example, changes in financing, payment plans, product lines, personnel, marketing… must be factored into the plan and regularly revisited, and when necessary, modified. Sometimes these modifications are not just simple ‘tweaks’, but major paradigm shifts… Mind mapping and other forms of visual communication helps people ‘get it’, quicker and more effectively…

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In the article Mind Mapping Makes Marketing More Meaningful by Cliff Allen writes: Success in any area depends on having a clear, sound plan and then acting on that plan. Mind mapping is a process of starting with a central concept and graphically adding links to greater and greater details. Most mind maps are drawn around a central concept, but mind maps are drawn in lots of ways, such as; a traditional organization chart. Basically, a mind map is visual way to show a hierarchy… However, it turns out that with graphical mind maps you can more easily see– both, the high level view plus the details and their relationships– much better than with a linear outline. Of course, some times the linear prioritized nature of an outline is more effective… but in marketing so many programs affect other programs that the multi-dimensional approach of mind maps works very well. Mind mapping is more than a way to draw charts, it’s used to capture ideas and concepts as they are discovered, and show their relationships. The actual mind map drawing is just a way to visually express thoughts and make them more meaningful. For example, in some organizations managers and team leaders use mind mapping for creating a common way of communicating the status of– projects, plans, performance… Mind mapping is especially useful in marketing where:

  • Marketing strategy is based on how multiple groups of customers think and feel about products.
  • Marketing has become increasingly complex as the number of communications and sales channels has increased.

These challenges have made it difficult to connect a set of marketing strategies with day-to-day marketing programs. At the same time, potential customers are being influenced by these multiple marketing channels. This means that marketers need to take advantage of the marketing leverage that an integrated marketing program can provide. It’s too easy to become focused on a few tactical marketing activities and miss other opportunities so as to influence potential customers. One technique to keep a strategic view of a company’s marketing it to create a graphical mind map that shows: How marketing strategy guides all tactical marketing programs? How all marketing programs reinforce each other? The immediate benefit of using a strategic marketing mind map is that every manager knows how their team fits into the overall strategy– and what they need to do to support that marketing strategy. In other words, everyone understands how the marketing strategy is related to their individual marketing tactics…

Mind mapping is a strategic tool for catalyzing creative and expansive conversations while keeping the conversations grounded in the reality of the situation. By literally mapping out the details of your– technology, marketplace, strategy… you and your team have the opportunity to step back– see things better, see things more clearly, see the big picture, see things together, see things differently… A good strategic map and the process of bringing people together in constructive dialog can help your team grapple with the complex and difficult issues… Navigating the future without a good map can be difficult and dangerous, i.e., difficult to see where you are, and if you are on the right track to reach your goal… A good map can help reveal your strategic reality and thus position you to create the future you want. A good map can generate understanding and insight, agreement, action… The mind mapping concept is very flexible, and it can be used in a wide range of settings, including; creative thinking, writing, strategic planning, group brainstorming, life management, goal setting, training, education, business process mapping, event planning, research, SWOT analysis… and, the biggest benefits that people cite are; clarity of thinking, managing information overload, improved productivity and being better organized... According to Alicia McWilliams; the mind mapping process is actually an advanced method of illustrating a vast variety of specific words; unusual tasks, concepts and ideas, which are effectively connected to and radically arranged around one chief idea… Mind mapping represents a powerful and vivid method of comprehension which provides a general key towards unlocking the skills which are often hidden within the framework of the human mind. Mind mapping is a technique that can be practiced in all facet of one’s life, where enhanced learning and a more creative method of thinking would tend to improve understanding and performance…

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