How to Deal with the Leadership Shift

Businesses are under increasing stress as markets are increasingly volatile, clients are more demanding, talent is scarcer and change occurs in faster and shorter cycles. To survive and thrive business leaders have to make faster decisions, on less information, and which have greater risk. This has led to a change in how leaders need to think, decide and execute.

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A good model, that addresses the four areas of concern that business leaders need to deal with, is the VUCA model (developed in the US Army War College). This consists of:

How to Deal with the Leadership Shift

  1. Volatilitythe rate, amount, and magnitude of change
    Drastic, rapid shifts can bring about instability for organizations and leaders, but even the minor or innocuous shifts that occur daily, such as new and “immediate” priorities that disrupt plans, or the increasing need to “multi-task,” are changes that increase volatility.
  2. Uncertainty the amount of unpredictability inherent in issues and events
    Leaders can’t predict because they lack clarity about the challenges and their current and future outcomes. Uncertainty can result in an over-reliance on past experiences and yesterday’s solutions or to analysis paralysis as we sift through more and more data.
  3. Complexitythe amount of dependency and interactive effect of multiple factors and drivers
    Complex interactivity requires leaders to think in more creative, innovative and non-linear way; to be able to deal with shades of gray (as opposed to black and white) solutions.
  4. Ambiguitythe degree to which information, situations, and events can be interpreted in multiple ways
    Ambiguity increases doubt, slows decision-making, and results in missed opportunities (and threats). It requires that leaders think through and diagnose things from multiple perspectives.

The Challenge for Leaders

For leaders the challenge is not just a leadership challenge (what good leadership looks like), but it is a development challenge (the process of how to grow “bigger” minds) to deal with the world of VUCA. Leaders, too often, have become experts on the “what” of leadership, but novices in the “how” of their own development.

So What Can You Do as a Leader?

  1. Change the Leadership Mindset – successful tactical leaders can easily get trapped by their predictive mindset when they meet a VUCA situation. Your coach can offer a robust sounding board, challenge your assumptions and beliefs, and help develop new perspectives, options and ideas.
  2. Change the Leadership Approach – many leadership issues are not problems to be solved but rather dilemmas that must be continuously managed. Your coach can help you to understand this, and to manage the issues and create opportunities from this is key.
  3. VUCA is a neutral force in the world – leaders often look at Volatility, Uncertainty, Change and Ambiguity as a negative force that they need to react to. Your coach can help you to see the potential and to transform it proactively and find the opportunity within.
  4. Leaders Don’t Execute, managers execute – Leaders too often get involved in driving the efforts themselves. The key is to think more strategically and to unlock the potential of your people so you can develop leaders at lower levels who can do the work where it needs to be done.

Find out more about Leadership Training and Customised Coaching Plan

Written by Andrew Cooke, Growth and Profit Solutions

Source: Business Leaders Strategic Thinking from Mindshop

Washing your hands, why you need to keep it simple

If you want your instructions to be followed, keep them simple!

Some posters catch your attention.  They may have something that really appeals to you, or it may be the reverse. Only a small number may  fit in either category.  As for the rest, well I cannot recall.  They are lost in the countless images that compete to attract a fleeting moment of our attention every day.

Adverts need to catch your attention

In this respect, posters are similar to television adverts. You either love them or hate them.  There is an annual competition “Best and Worst ads” on Television New Zealand. What is particularly noteworthy, is that some adverts appear in both categories, that is the best and the worst.  This means that a high proportion of the respondents feel strongly about these adverts, either positively or negatively.  You could argue that the advertising agency has done its job at it wants people to remember the advert and presumably the product that the advert is trying to sell.

What message are you trying to convey?

So what if you are not trying to sell anything?  What if you just have what might seem like a simple message, such as “wash your hands”?

Keep It Simple_Blog I visited three different universities in Auckland in the space of a few weeks and each time had cause to go to the toilet. Each time there were signs about “wash your hands”, but the posters were very different.  The image shows the simplest and the most complex of the three. I should stress that I do not normally take photos in a toilet, but like the good journalist, I could sniff a story, or in my case, a blog post.

The left hand image has four simple words that correspond to the four main steps:

  1. Soap
  2. Scrub
  3. Rinse
  4. Dry

An image accompanies each word to reinforce the message.  The headline “it only takes 20 seconds” is gentle and there is a nice pun: ” to get the upper hand on germs”.

The right hand image has nine steps, each with detailed instructions that are unlikely to be taken heed of. The whole tone is stern and not engaging. Turning four steps into nine adds complexity.  This has a number of adverse consequences:

  1. More difficult to read, as you have to absorb so much more information.
  2. More effort to read for the same reason.
  3. More difficult to remember.  What are these nine steps anyway and why so many?

Do note that the two posters serve the same purpose and are in the same environment.  One would expect more stringent standards in the kitchen of a restaurant and far higher still in an operating theatre.

What lessons can we draw from this?

Be very clear about what you are trying to convey and why?  You must also be clear about what action you want people to take or not take.  Here are some questions to pose:

  1. Are you giving a command? The STOP sign by an intersection is unambiguous.
  2. Are you giving a warning?  Tight bend ahead.
  3. Is this information? T-junction and sign post.
  4. Are you trying to give instructions on how to do something? Or is the emphasis more on the why?
  5. How much explanation is really needed?

Advertising

“Let me show you” can address both the how and the why.  You also need to take account of the extent to which you need to remind as opposed to explain a unfamiliar task.

Many of us will remember being told off my our mother for not sitting at table with dirty hands.  You need to show a very young child how to wash their hands, but you should only have to remind an older child.

I will leave the last word or rather words to one of my favourite signs that you see all over France.  “Défense d’Afficher”, which means “post no bills”.  This example is rather controversial.

What poster do you love or hate the most and why?  Feel free to share this post.

Simon Fawkes
Accredited Mindshop Facilitator
Business to Markets Ltd

From The Kitchen Table to the Board Table: A Small Business Guide to Corporate Governance

Most small business owners recognize that governance structures are vital elements of their business, but only a few manage to embed corporate governance structure into their business. The restructuring of a business from the kitchen table to the board table to suit a corporate governance framework, is an important task for management, and in the case of small businesses, the business owners themselves.

Below is a general guide for small businesses who are thinking of creating an internal framework along the lines of a corporate model.

  • Define roles and responsibilities. Well-defined responsibility, accountability and reporting lines between the management and employees are vital features in any corporate framework. These should be communicated well to make sure that expectations, priorities and business challenges are addressed accordingly.
  • clear policiesCreate clear and efficient policies and procedures. A clear statement on management policies that covers every aspect of the business is a necessary requirement to ensure the smooth operation of your business. This may include procedures for monitoring company transactions, transparency and disclosure procedures and a code of conduct for all levels of management and employees.
  • Conduct and disclose regular financial audits. External auditors benefit small businesses just as much as they do larger corporations. Auditors are able to provide an impartial account of ways in which a small business can improve its financial standing and its marketability to investors.
  • Establish a formal recruitment and pay criteria. Do you need to hire a CEO/CFO and if so how much should you pay them? These and other decisions about recruitment and pay could be addressed if a corporate framework is in place.
  • Work in a transparent manner. In order to implement corporate governance in a small business, it is essential to disclose relevant information, not just internally but also to external parties. Systems should be in place to guarantee that important information is made public in a timely manner.
  • Develop an employee training and motivation program. Employee TrainingSmall business owners should not only supervise and monitor job performance, but also encourage employees to undergo continuing education. This will make sure that all staff stay up-to-date with relevant regulations and business developments and stay motivated to improve their skills and career prospects.

Every business is different and the formalizing practices for organizations of any size should be tailored accordingly to fit its own structure, culture and business strategy.  Kitchen table meetings may work well but by adopting corporate governance, small business increases the likelihood of sustainability as well as growth.

Written by Greg Gunther, Greg Gunther and Associates

Source: Business Leaders Strategic Thinking from Mindshop

YouTube One Channel: new B2MGlobal Channel Trailer

YouTube launched One Channel in early March 2013. This is a great way to promote your channel and gain more subscribers. You can easily convert your existing channel to the new format and it is well worth the effort. There are three important features of One Channel. Two are easy to spot: Channel Trailer and  Channel Art. The third one, Sections, is not so obvious.

Introducing B2MGlobal Channel

B2MGlobal Channel Trailer

Think of the Channel Trailer as your free 60 second advert.  This trailer only plays when non-subscribers land on your channel. The aim is to encourage them to subscribe to your channel. There is no risk of irritating your subscribers, because they do not see the trailer.  They can still watch it as one of your standard videos and share it too.

  • Do keep your channel trailer short.  YouTube recommends no longer than one minute.
  • Don’t forget Tags and a short description under the About section of the video.
  • Lastly, don’t forget the Call to Action: subscribe to my channel.

Here is the B2MGlobal Channel Trailer.  I hope you enjoy it and do subscribe!

B2MGlobal Channel Art

The Channel Art is an opportunity to promote your brand, but make sure you follow the Channel Art Guidelines.

B2MGlobal Channel Art

Channel Sections

Sections are another important feature of One Channel. You can choose from a number of options, including Tag.  This means you can create playlists around any theme, including a  tag, and show thumbnails of your videos. This is a great to arrange and present your videos.

Do take a look at One Channel and be one of the early adopters.

Please share this with anyone you know who wants to get more from their YouTube channel.  Lastly, do look at the B2MGlobal Channel and if you like what you see, do subscribe!

Simon Fawkes
Accredited Mindshop Facilitator
Business to Markets Ltd

The Top 5 Tools to Drive Strategy in Your Business

One of the many challenges facing business owners and managers is having the right “business tool” for the job.
In business we often have a range of tools, systems and processes that enable us to drive the operational
elements (CRMs, HR Systems, Financial Systems, Management tools, etc) but when it comes to developing strategy, we are often at a loss.

Over the last 26 years as a Business Consultant, I have amassed a number of powerful tools – most of them are in the Mindshop Toolbox. Below are five of my favourite Strategy Tools:

1. Draw your Vision – is a really simple concept that allows you to clearly articulate your thoughts and feelings around WHERE you would like the business to be. The old adage “…a picture paints a thousand words…” is really applicable here as you can convey a great deal of information in a simple format. And it is memorable and easily communicated to the Team. I have found that recall of the drawn vision is much higher than a written version. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw – this isn’t an art competition – it is about the tactile process of drawing and converting your thoughts to pictures. Try it you’ll be stunned at the outcomes.

business development strategy

2. Strategic SWOT Analysis – This is a simple tool that is a great variation on the traditional SWOT Analysis that forms the Appendix in most business plans. Our variation on the standard tool, is to be far more strategic in developing your SWOT elements by asking the questions “Do our competitors have this Strength or Weakness?” and ”Are the Opportunities and Threats realistic?”. Asking these questions focuses the analysis on the elements that you can really use to make a difference. This tool is so powerful because it links the NOW (Strengths and Weaknesses) with WHERE (Opportunities and Threats) and generates a list of strategic actions that your business can take (the HOW). Watch the video for tips on how to apply this tool in your business. Used well, this is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your toolkit! It is the direct application of the NOW-WHERE-HOW model.

business development strategy

3. Competitive Advantage – most business managers understand the notion of Competitive Advantage but few people have a simple process for working out what it is. Our model works off the concept that Competitive Advantage is determined by understanding what it is your business does that “adds maximum value to your Customers” and that you also do “better than the competition”. Once you have your Competitive Advantage then you can apply it to your product/service strategies, pricing models, operational planning, sales, marketing and promotion. It is your key differentiator in the market. Watch the video to determine your Sustainable Competitive Advantage.

business development strategy

4. Product Portfolio Analysis – Few businesses take the time to analyse their portfolio of Products/Services and use a structured process to develop strategies for them. Most product strategy is developed on an ad hoc basis. PPA is a relatively simple tool that allows you view your product range and analyse the gaps. It also provides insights into how you can be more competitive in the marketplace. This is a powerful tool that you can use in a variety of ways to analyse products, services, markets and even customer groups. Watch the video for more insights.

business development strategy

5. Consumer Decision Making Model – how can you influence consumers to buy your product or service? Isn’t this the “Holy Grail” of business? My experience is that if you understand the process that consumers use to make purchasing decisions (even small ones) then you can create marketing and promotion strategies that drive consumers to buy your products. This model is a well researched process of steps that consumers move through when making a purchase decision. The larger and more complex the decision, then the more time they will spend at each step. Businesses that can position themselves to interact at each step in the process, will have a far greater chance of success. Watch the video for more insights.

business development strategy

Add these tools to your business toolkit and start using them to have a stronger strategic focus in your business. You can use them as separate tools, but my experience is that the real power comes from using them in a sequence where one tool builds on the next. Use the sequence above as a starting point to really leveraging the power of these tools.

Written by Russell Cummings – Strategic Business Development