Putting Action Back into Strategic Plans

Find out why executives love APPLIED GROUP CONCEPT MAPPING!

APPLIED GROUP CONCEPT MAPPING

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Applying Group Concept Mapping to Strategic Planning, Innovation and Product Development

Group Concept Mapping is a form of conceptualizing that combines several common group processes such as idea generation (brainstorming), sorting, and rating, with a series of analyses (multidimensional scaling, hierarchical cluster analysis). It is relevant to strategic planning, innovation and product development in that it creates high quality input to the process and action-oriented results.

THE CHALLENGE

Businesses today face many difficult challenges.  There is an incredibly broad range of tasks and activities that need to come together to execute a successful plan.  This assumes there is a plan to execute.  Many companies hobble on by performing legacy tasks that have outlived their strategic purpose.  Either way management must continuously prioritize, focus, and align the work, across a diverse group of functional disciplines to move the organization forward.  Management essentially orchestrates a series of specific actions to achieve its…

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APPLIED GROUP CONCEPT MAPPING FOR INNOVATION SUCCESS

Using Applied Group Concept Mapping to Drive Innovation Success

Innovation success requires specific, strategic actions. Applied Group Concept Mappingis a powerful new tool that can help determine what specific actions are required to drive long-term business performance. It can be used for strategic planning, project and business risk management and creating a culture that supports innovation.

This simple-to-use, robust tool collects, sorts and rates unstructured qualitative data (ideas or solutions). It differs from other strategic tools in that it leverages the knowledge, wisdom and experience of all internal and external stakeholders resulting in more creative, emergent solutions to business problems.

Join us for informational webinars on March 21 where you will learn how this exciting new tool can benefit your business. The webinars are free. Register below:

Tuesday, March 21 at 10 a.m. EDT or Tuesday, March 21 at 4 p.m. EDT

This webinar is a collaboration of New Product Visions and INSIGHTOVATION CONSULTING.

Questions? Contact Jeff Groh at jgroh@newproductvisions.com.

Why Risk Assessments Fail

Do you need improvements to your risk assessment process? Who doesn’t! Read about a new robust process to create value-added, action-oriented inputs to mitigate the new and hidden risks to your business – Applied Group Concept Mapping

APPLIED GROUP CONCEPT MAPPING

Mitigating risk to the business is an essential leadership function.  The number of business failures may give us a clue to how many companies do it well.  Obviously it is more complex than that but I like to keep things simple.

The longer you stay in business the more you need an effective risk management process.

The facts are:

Over two decades, up to 75 percent of businesses in certain fields fail. Survival rates follow a universal downward trend, as the years of operation increase, with 50 percent of businesses failing after 5 years and 75 percent failing after 17 years, notes U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Between 1994-2010, the survival rates of private establishments ranged between 25 to 50 percent, reports U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Common Failure Points Within a  4-Phase Risk Assessment Process

PHASE 1: PRE-ASSESSMENT PREPARATION

  • Inadequate planning and communication
  • Lack of process alignment…

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Better Leadership in 2017

I have been thinking about the year ahead and wanted to come up with simple, easy-to-remember guidelines for deepening my own leadership skills in 2017.

2015, for me, was all about BALANCE both personal and professional.  Balance turned out to be more of a challenge than I originally estimated and it spilled over into 2016 under a new banner of SIMPLIFY.  I continue practicing balance and simplification and know for me it is a life-long initiative.  I think the word PRACTICE is appropriate for these types of pursuits.

After overcomplicating the 2017 guidelines exercise, I came back to 4 basic verbs.  I chose verbs for the very fact that they are action-oriented.

  1. Listen
  2. Ask
  3. Act
  4. Know me

Getting to these four areas of focus started out pretty cloudy.  Still, I knew there was something important about all four skills.  Any one of these capabilities are great characteristics.  I will argue good leadership requires all four.  Take away any one and the problems start.screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-9-50-07-am  Not listening to other stakeholders, not asking the right questions, failing to act when required, and looking at the situation through my own narrow filters can put me at a significant disadvantage and result in poor leadership.

It seems obvious that I turn the clouds into firm skill sets represented by intersecting circles to try to visualize and explain what was happening in each of the overlapping areas.  screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-9-23-22-am

Great leadership requires a combination of listening, asking questions, acting and knowing my own stuff.screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-9-23-47-am

I thought about writing a paragraph on each overlapping section including what types of leadership behavior is exhibited when leaders don’t listen or are not self-aware of their own prejudices, preconceived ideas, and assumptions etc.  Instead I will simplify the post and leave that examination up to the reader.

With these simple guidelines in place, I look forward to the challenges that 2017 will bring.

Happy New Year!

THE CURSE OF THE EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION SURVEY

APPLIED GROUP CONCEPT MAPPING

** An open letter to my HR Friends **

Dear HR Friends,

Fundamental for an organization to thrive and grow is having talented employees who are committed, motivated and engaged.screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-5-47-43-pmThis is an accepted conclusion of scores of studies on employee engagement, now a commonly overused buzzword with an entire leadership curriculum behind it. Research studies, as cited by Debbie Hance, Head of Business Psychology, Head Lamp, HRZONE.com – such as those by UK government’s 2009 review on employee engagement [1], Gallup [2] and the Corporate Leadership Council [3] –

“[Research studies] champion the transformational possibilities of engagement and seduce us with the promise of increased productivity, improved financial performance, lower attrition and absenteeism, and higher levels of customer satisfaction and innovation.

In the hopeful expectation of reaching this euphoric nirvana – where employees are more motivated, happier, more committed and more involved – many organizations have embarked on their own engagement journey…

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Thoughts on Leadership Coaching

Leadership – On Gossip and Criticism

Here are some thoughts on gossip and criticism.  Two things that spoil a company’s culture and unity of purpose are gossip and criticism. To avoid these divisive things, we must realize that as a company, we’re all in the same boat and need each to work effectively and productively together.

gossip criticismIn a tough world economy, with strong competition, leaders must pull employees together without engaging in gossip and criticism, and take action against gossip and criticism whenever it is observed or reported. Gossip and criticism are sure ways of disrupting any team by undermining trust and transparency. Neither gossip nor criticism helps anyone to work more productively or effectively.

Workplace gossip can harm employee morale. Conversations in the workplace affects everyone. Even if particular employees are not directly involved in the conversation, gossip damages the relationships of fellow employees and creates a toxic working environment.

Criticism of colleagues and employees can seen to be necessary for managing the workforce and for reaching corporate goals.  Often it has the opposite effect.  Using the right method of communication and motivation to reenforce the behaviors that drive workforce productivity will go a long way toward preserving and salvaging employee morale. A workplace without gossip and criticism can help both retain employees and improve workplace productivity.

AS A LEADER, DO YOU AVOID GOSSIP AND CRITICISM, AND MODEL CONSTRUCTIVE AND TRANSPARENT COMMUNICATION?

Co-working and Leading Teams

The co-working movement may be considered the latest fad, but it has been around for decades under different names and forms.  Cross-organizational or cross-functional teamwork is the basis of many existing business processes.  Co-location of teams and matrixed organizations are also well known. Marketing, product development and innovation teams have long realized the benefits of working in multi-disciplinary teams to better accomplish goals.  Recently new research indicates it has a surprisingly strong psychological basis.

coworking-space

See WENDY MARX  07.14.16 5:00 AM http://www.fastcompany.com/3061515/the-scientific-reason-why-coworking-may-be-the-future-of-work

New cultural tactics such as working in pairs that rotate every five days, and company culture and social structure designed to help employees collaborate are more and more popular. Expanding offices and creating innovation centers to allow current clients or new startups and entrepreneurs to work with company teams generate strong connections and innovation in the process.

No doubt co-working is an established movement.  An of a new platform includes WeWork as well as other co-working platforms taking shape in a variety of forms.

How can you bring the benefits of co-working to your organization?

There’s no forced socialization. Team spaces that allow employees to be as friendly, or as reserved, as an individual wants work well.  Creating secure and accessible space for interaction with outside parties allows for learning and collaborative work.

And according to researchers who’ve studied the effectiveness of co-working, they’re all on to something. Wendy Marx explains why.  The following is an excerpt from her recent article in Fast Company cited above:

TWO BASIC HUMAN NEEDS CO-WORKING FULFILLS

A team of researchers at the University of Michigan’s Steven M. Ross School of Business led by business professor Dr. Gretchen Spreitzer, who also directs the Center for Positive Organizations, has spent the last four years studying co-working. In the process, they’ve interviewed the founders of co-working companies around the U.S. and surveyed more than 200 workers from dozens of co-working spaces; one team member spent six months as a co-working member.

Their research uncovered two key benefits to the co-working experience, both of which have been linked to improved employee performance. Simplified somewhat, it comes down to flexibility and autonomy without dispensing with meaningful community.

It turns out that co-working spaces’ hallmarks—like funky design features—are far less important than their social structures, where workers feel a sense of individual autonomy that’s still linked to a sense of collaboration, the Michigan team told me in interviews. Most co-working spaces, for all their variation, tend to strike that careful balance between those crucial needs—in ways that neither solo freelancing nor the traditional office experience usually provide.

Typically, coworkers pay a monthly fee in exchange for the freedom to work when, where, and how they want. Often open 24/7, coworking facilities let members come and go and sit wherever they like. There’s no forced socialization. You can be as friendly or as reserved as you want.

Co-workers also have the freedom to literally shape their environment—which some research suggests can significantly improve workers’ performance and productivity. In their research, the Michigan team found that some co-working companies have taken it upon themselves to redesign their spaces to better meet members’ needs, raising additional money to do so and inviting users to help design the new features.

Independence, adaptability, flexibility: These characteristics are fundamental human needs. So it isn’t surprising that they’ve been linked to positive outcomes in the workplace, too, from improved performance to higher rates of employee commitment and engagement.

They also help explain why more companies are embracing flexible work schedules—many of the same ones, in fact, that are exploring coworking. GE, Parades tells me, now offers flexible work arrangements for all its U.S. employees as long as they’ve got their managers’ approval.

COMMUNITIES THAT MINIMIZE INTERNAL COMPETITION

But this isn’t the whole story, the Michigan researchers found. Autonomy and flexibility may be crucial, but your work environment is hardly the only factor that can supply them. The other key benefit that coworking spaces tend to offer is a sense of community—not just any community, but one where people, as Dr. Spreitzer puts it, are “free to be themselves” because they don’t feel they’re competing with those around them. As a result, ideas are more freely shared.

People are “free to be themselves” because they don’t feel they’re competing with those around them.
Spreitzer, Garrett, and their third colleague Dr. Peter Bacevice, director of research at architecture and design firm HLW International, found that that type of communal spirit provides the necessary ballast to autonomy. While too much freedom can actually hurt productivity, grafting a community structure onto an already flexible one provides what she calls “the optimal degree of control.”

Typically, people join coworking spaces because they want to be part of a community while still doing their own thing. Members often share their thoughts and needs on Slack or some other communal platform. Everyone is usually expected to volunteer to maintain the facility. Lectures, outings, and other events are planned—but optional.

Here’s one coworking member that PhD candidate Lyndon Garrett interviewed as part of the research:

It’s really positively affected my work because it . . . makes me happier all the time, and having people around that I’m not in competition with but who can bring experience from different industries and different situations is really, really helpful . . . I’ve been able to come in contact with ideas I wouldn’t have normally come in contact with.
Traditional companies are trying to create that same sense of serendipity. AT&T has created coworking-like spaces where the company’s own engineers mingle with independent developers and startups in order to accelerate AT&T’s innovation cycle. The office furniture company Steelecase redesigned its corporate office to include a work café that strongly resembles those at the center of many coworking spaces, based on the idea that employees may be stimulated and build friendships with people outside their work unit.

So if more employers follow suit in the months and years ahead, they aren’t just jumping on a trendy bandwagon. Sure, they might be doing that, too, but they’re also trying to tap into the science that helps explain what makes people work well—alone and together.

H1 2016 is Over! Act on H2.

Today’s thought from INSIGHTOVATION® – July 19, 2016

Stay ahead of your business cadence.

Are you still analyzing the first half of 2016 to see where you are vs. the business goals?  If so you are already behind for the year.  That analysis should have been done starting in mid-June using actuals through May and forecast for June.  The official books should be all but closed as a formality with no surprises and business reviews finalized.  You are now 3 weeks into the new quarter and second half of 2016.  Stop looking back.

Executing the plan is the business priority.

Assumptions:
  1. There is a clearly defined strategy and action plan.   Everyone is aligned and focused.
  2. It is still the right plan.  Nothing has changed.
  3. You have the right resources to execute.

Publishing a business/marketing calendar is a helpful way of staying on track.

  1. This calendar outlines a framework of the regular cycles for the business.
  2. It describes the business process and timing vs. the content.
  3. It gives visibility to timing and manages expectations of reporting to business stakeholders.

Whether the calendar is on a shared, electronic platform or an excel spreadsheet matters not. The important characteristics are that it is clearly articulated, accessible, and has organizational alignment.

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First Step? – Populate a calendar with all known business events for the next 18 months.

Consider a 3-year strategic plan with a rolling 18-month action plan.   Create an 18-month calendar outlining the business/marketing cadence as a framework and allow stakeholders to align their action plans so that the entire team is going forward on the same timing to achieve the plan.

Let me know if you need step-by-step help creating a cross-organizational cadence.

 

15+ Words to Describe Great Product Managers

Writing a resume or job description?
Preparing to interview a product manager candidate or be interviewed for a product manager job?

I was recently asked to identify characteristics of a great product manager.

If functional expertise is a given, then what are the characteristics that take a product manager from good to great?

Here are some of the words I l use to describe the great product managers I have known and with whom I have worked.

authenticauthentic

adjective ~ au·then·tic \ə-ˈthen-tik, ȯ-\
  • : real or genuine : not copied or false

  • : true and accurate

  • : an original

Conformity does not yield innovation.

curiositycurious

adjective ~ cu·ri·ous \ˈkyu̇r-ē-əs\
  • : having a desire to learn or know more about something or someone
    :  marked by desire to investigate and learn
    :  marked by inquisitive interest in others’ concerns

  • : strange, unusual, novel or unexpected

 

fearlessAN-ESSENTIAL-aspect-of-creativity-is-not-being-afraid-to-fail

adjective ~ fear·less \ˈfir-ləs\
  • : not afraid : very brave

  • : not being afraid to fail

inquisitiveQuestion_mark curious

adjective ~ in·quis·i·tive \in-ˈkwi-zə-tiv\
  • : tending to ask questions : having a desire to know or learn more

insightfulinsightful

adjective ~ inˈsītfəl /insītfəl/
  • :having or showing an accurate and deep understanding; perceptive.

intuitive, perceptive, discerning, penetrating, penetrative, astute, percipient,perspicacious, sagacious, wise, judicious, shrewd, sharp, sharp-witted, razor-sharp, keenincisive, acute, imaginative, appreciative, intelligent, thoughtful, sensitive, deep, profound

 

intuitive

intuitive brain

Credit: Pentera PGBuzz

 

adjective ~ in·tu·i·tive \in-ˈtü-ə-tiv, -ˈtyü-\
  • : having the ability to know or understand things without any proof or evidence : having or characterized by intuition

  • : based on or agreeing with what is known or understood without any proof or evidence : known or understood by intuition

  • : agreeing with what seems naturally right

Great product managers have a unique balance of left and right brain capabilities.

 

judicious

judicious decisive

getgoodinstitute.com

adjective ~ ju·di·cious \jü-ˈdi-shəs\
  • : having or showing good judgment

Judiciousness stresses a capacity for reaching wise decisions or just conclusions.

 

practical practical

adjective ~ prac·ti·cal  /praktək(ə)l/
  • : of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas.

Great product managers are practical, focused on actually doing something, yet I find them to have a quirky silliness and creative bent that sends them in innovative directions hidden from the view of the average mortal.

prudentprudent

adjective pru·dent \ˈprü-dənt\
  • : having or showing careful good judgment

  • : shrewd in the management of practical affairs

  • : marked by circumspection

  • : acting with or showing care and thought for the future.

     sensible, politic, advisable, well advised

 

relentlessextra-mile relentless

adjective ~ re·lent·less  /rəˈlen(t)ləs/

  • :oppressively constant; incessant.
  • :showing or promising no abatement of intensity, strength, or pace

sagacioussagacious

adjective ~ sa·ga·cious \sə-ˈgā-shəs\
  • : having or showing an ability to understand difficult ideas and situations and to make good decisions

 

sageexperience

adjective \ˈsāj\
  • :very wise through reflection, wide experience and great learning

 

sanesane

adjective ~ \ˈsān\
Sane stresses mental soundness, rationality, and levelheadedness

sapient Sapient

adjective ~ |sa·pi·ent|  /sā-pē-ənt/  [sey-pee-uh nt]
  • :wise, or appearing wise especially in the ways of being human

unpretentious

adjective un·pre·ten·tious \-ˈten(t)-shəs\
  • : not having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are : not pretentious

  • :not attempting to impress others with an appearance of greater importance, talent, or culture than is actually possessed.

  • :possessing humility in leadership

unaffectednatural, straightforward, open, honestsincere, frank

 

There are of course many other words to describe what makes these human beings great product managers.  These are some of my favorite.  Please feel free to add your favorites in the comments.

 

Leadership and Life, Just for Today

I found this inspired list of leadership qualities to focus on in 2016.  Happy New Year.  Thank you for sharing @fastcompany and 

7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE

PEOPLE WITH HIGH EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TEND TO DO BETTER AT WORK. SO WHAT HABITS DO THEY HAVE THAT SET THEM APART?

Editor’s Note: This is one of the most-read leadership articles of 2014. Click here to see the full list.

It has increasingly become accepted that emotional intelligence is an important factor in our success and happiness, not only at work, but in our relationships and all areas of our lives.

So what sets emotionally intelligent people apart? Here are seven habits that people with high EI have:

1. THEY FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE

While not ignoring the bad news, emotionally intelligent people have made a conscious decision to not spend a lot of time and energy focusing on problems. Rather, they look at what is positive in a situation and look for solutions to a problem. These people focus on what they are able to do and that which is within their control.

2. THEY SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE

People with a lot of emotional intelligence don’t spend a lot of time listening to complainers and tend to avoid negative people. They are aware negative people are an energy drain and are not willing to let others exhaust their vitality. Because they always look for solutions and the positive in situations, negative people quickly learn to avoid positive people as misery loves company.

Emotionally intelligent people spend time with others that are positive and look upon the bright side of life. You can spot these folks as they tend to smile and laugh a great deal and attract other positive people. Their warmth, openness, and caring attitude leads others look upon them as more trustworthy.

3. THEY ARE ABLE TO SET BOUNDARIES AND BE ASSERTIVE WHEN NECESSARY

Although their friendly, open nature may make them appear as pushovers to some, people with high EI are able to set boundaries and assert themselves when needed. They demonstrate politeness and consideration but stay firm at the same time.

They do not make needless enemies. Their response to situations, in which there may be conflict, is measured, not inflated, and managed appropriately to the situation. They think before speaking and give themselves time to calm down if their emotions appear to become overwhelming. High EI people guard their time and commitments and know when they need to say no.

4. THEY ARE FORWARD THINKING AND WILLING TO LET GO OF THE PAST

People with high EI are too busy thinking of possibilities in the future to spend a lot of time dwelling upon things that didn’t work out in the past. They take the learning from their past failures and apply it to their actions in the future. They never see failure as permanent or a personal reflection of themselves.

5. THEY LOOK FOR WAYS TO MAKE LIFE MORE FUN, HAPPY, AND INTERESTING

Whether it is in their workplace, at home, or with friends, high EI people know what makes them happy and look for opportunities to expand the enjoyment. They receive pleasure and satisfaction from seeing others happy and fulfilled, and do whatever they can to brighten someone else’s day.

6. THEY CHOOSE HOW THEY EXPEND THEIR ENERGY WISELY

While these enlightened people are good at moving on from the past when things didn’t work out as expected, they are also able to move on from conflicts involved with others. High EI folks don’t hold on to anger over how others have treated them, rather use the incident to create awareness of how to not let it happen again. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” is their motto. While they move on and forgive, they don’t forget and are unlikely to be taken advantage of again in the same set of circumstances.

7. CONTINUALLY LEARNING AND GROWING TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE

Highly emotionally intelligent people are lifelong learners, constantly growing, evolving, open to new ideas, and always willing to learn from others. Being critical thinkers, they are open to changing their minds if someone presents an idea that is a better fit. While they are open to ideas from others, and continuously gathering new information, they ultimately trust themselves and their own judgment to make the best decision for themselves.

[Image: Flickr user André Solnik]