Seeing your way to better strategy

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on December 6th, 2018 by admin

Viewing strategy choices through four lenses—financial performance, markets, competitive advantage, and operating model—can help companies debias their strategic dialogues and make big, bold changes.

When executives gather in the strategy-planning room, they’re aiming to identify and prioritize the big, bold choices that will shape the future of the company. Many times, however, their choices get watered down and waylaid.

Companies that hold no conviction about priorities too often spread resources evenly across multiple projects rather than targeting a few projects with the potential to win big. Those companies seeking to escape slowing growth in their core businesses sabotage themselves by chasing new markets without critically evaluating if or how they can win.

To avoid this fate, companies should examine their strategic choices through four critical, interdependent lenses—the company’s financial performance, market opportunities, competitive advantage, and operating model (exhibit).

Executives tend to overemphasize the first two—viewing choices strictly in the context of financial and market opportunities—because those lenses represent critical inputs into the business case. But knowing what it will take to meet or beat financial expectations and which markets are profitable won’t do much good if the company doesn’t have the assets or capabilities required to win in those markets. Nor will it do much good if the company lacks the people, processes, and organizational structure to implement the proposed strategy successfully.

By viewing strategy choices through all four lenses, executives can identify and prioritize the big moves that will lead companies to new markets and growth opportunities, or the steps they can take to consolidate the core. When combined, the lenses provide a clear, balanced, holistic view of not just the opportunities in play but also what it will take to capture them. This kind of objective strategy diligence can improve conversations in the strategy room—and, ultimately, kick corporate performance into a higher gear.1

The financial lens
Most companies necessarily initiate their strategy processes with a look at their financial performance. The financial lens can help them incorporate an outside view into these discussions and develop an objective baseline for assessing the feasibility of long-term targets.

A company can use standard valuation methods to estimate what performance levels it must achieve in the long term to justify today’s value. If the company performs at these expectations, shareholder returns would roughly equal the cost of equity, compensating investors for their opportunity cost of capital.2 This, however, is not value creation—it’s simply the lowest threshold by which leaders can say their strategy was successful.

To create value, companies must deliver returns above and beyond the cost of capital, or they must deliver returns that exceed those of peers. Thus, executives should also use benchmarks to figure out how the company must perform to move well beyond that threshold—delivering top-quintile returns to shareholders, for instance. An objective look at peers’ performance will help companies develop a meaningful three- to five-year plan for how to earn excess returns. Companies can learn a lot from this benchmarking exercise: perhaps high returns in the past were the result of a run-up in multiples in the market and, hence, expectations, but not actual performance.

To anchor those perspectives in current company performance and market position, it is critical for teams to develop a market-momentum case (MMC). Using external market data and peer-performance benchmarks, the MMC gives the company a holistic view of how financial performance will be affected if the company follows its current trajectory relative to market growth, cost evolution, and pricing dynamics without taking any countervailing actions. The end result is an objective baseline for performance that allows executives to conduct an unbiased assessment of how to prioritize new initiatives (and big moves) without counting on them in the base plan.

By assessing implied performance, aspirations for performance, and the MMC, strategy and finance professionals can arm themselves with the information required to start meaningful, objective discussions on value creation: How does the company need to perform to achieve superior returns, and how would the company perform if it remained in steady state?

The market lens
Most companies are seeing slow growth in core businesses and wishing they were in higher-growth, higher-margin businesses. In some cases, the slowing core business may even be under attack. For instance, a low-cost entrant might destroy incumbents’ economic profit in a certain segment, as happened in markets as diverse as those for aluminum wheels and children’s electronic toys. In today’s fast-moving business environments, many companies start from a baseline of deteriorating profit, not slightly increasing earnings. This creates urgency to make big moves into new markets or to block attackers.

The market lens provides a means by which companies can identify pockets of growth within existing segments and beyond, and assess them against strategic options. The critical factor here is granularity; executives should quantify and validate shifts in profit pools in relevant markets given trends that are visible now. One consumer-apparel company, for instance, examined absolute dollar growth in the product markets it operated in. It assessed growth by channel and by region. The differences were striking. In some geographies, demand was expected to continue to grow mostly in brick-and-mortar stores for at least five years, with a significant price premium for high-end products. In other geographies, online channels were capturing profits much more rapidly than expected. Using the market lens, the strategy team recognized the need to allocate resources in product development and marketing for high-end products in brick-and-mortar stores in certain regions, as well as more localized, lower-cost production in others. By running the analysis in this granular way, it could capture better profit in all regions, leading to above-average growth.

Additionally, strategy and finance leaders should always examine adjacent markets, which may be not only attractive segments for growth but also breeding grounds for potential future competitors. Many times, the adjacencies are obvious, as in online retailers’ continued push into industrial distribution for small and medium-size businesses, or technology companies’ moves into software-as-a-service businesses. Other times, they are not as obvious—for instance, raw-materials companies selling consumer goods.

After conducting the requisite analyses of markets, strategy teams should be able to address two key questions: In which market segments will we be able to grow profitably over time? What additional attractive markets should be considered?

The competitive-advantage lens
Most companies face a critical strategic choice in the planning room: Are we better off consolidating the core, where growth is slower, or can we realistically enter new high-growth, high-profit markets and win? But given time pressures, innate biases, and other factors, executives typically fall short in their consideration of assets, capabilities, and the investments required to compete more effectively against rivals. As a result, companies end up chasing unattainable growth and underinvesting relative to what it would take to win.

The competitive-advantage lens can help executives identify whether the company has what it will take to win in current markets and those going forward, or whether a big change is required to capture value. An honest assessment of current capabilities should inform how the company chooses to play in its markets, as well as partnerships or acquisitions that may be necessary.

In the wake of new realities such as digitization and the fact that many industries are reaching the limits of consolidation, the competitive-advantage lens is more important than ever. Take as an example the notion of building a digital platform, a goal shared by many executives these days: What competitive advantage will the platform provide? What sort of market share does it need to capture to be considered a “winner” and not just “average”? Is an ecosystem of third-party players required for the digital platform to succeed, or can this be done organically—and will we be able to do it quickly enough to become the preferred platform for our customers?

The analyses and insights here are typically based more on firsthand “case load” expertise than on industry databases or reports. Interviews with sales teams and postmortems on deals that went awry can be very insightful, as can customer and supplier surveys. There is a lot at stake in gaining these perspectives. The apparel company mentioned earlier discovered that competitors still owned brick-and-mortar stores in certain markets in which the apparel company worked only through online partners. The competitors’ sales representatives in these markets had special training and a structured sales approach that allowed them to collect information on customer preferences—for instance, the shapes, colors, and sizes customers wanted to see in the next season’s designs. This gave competitors a leg up in product development that the apparel company no longer had. The essential competitive advantage in these high-growth markets was real-time customer insights fed back into a rapid product-development cycle. The apparel company learned, therefore, that it had to continue to invest in brick-and-mortar stores to recapture this advantage, even in markets driven by online sales.

The operating-model lens
Companies routinely take for granted the impact of their operating models on their strategy choices. They maintain the status quo rather than asking whether they have the people, processes, technologies, and other critical components required to make big moves. The operating-model lens, then, is essential for understanding whether the company is set up for future success. Indeed, a company’s approach to resource allocation, talent management, organizational design, and performance management can either reinforce or defeat strategic objectives. Consider the following talent- and performance-management-related examples.

A pharmaceutical company estimated that more than one-third of its cash flow would come from Asia within five to seven years. That outcome never materialized, however: senior management had stationed fewer than 10 percent of the company’s sales representatives in Asia—all of whom were focused on maintaining current sales and profit, not on expanding sales according to the strategic plan. An analysis of the growth opportunity at stake (in dollars) versus the number of full-time employees allocated to the regions over the past five years revealed the degree of underinvestment. Senior management decided to hire heavily in Asia.

Rather than prescribe performance metrics from the top down—ordering, for instance, that no one can have more than a 1 percent increase in cost in the next fiscal year—a retail company picks two or three “growth cells” each year that get twice the relative marketing budget (among other investments) compared with other areas of the business. As a result, strategy discussions are now focused solely on which cells should be designated for accelerated growth, rather than minutiae about the budget.

Companies need to look at more than just financial opportunities when embarking on a new strategy or implementing a transformation program. They need to follow a due-diligence process for strategy, in the same way they would dispassionately and holistically vet critical mergers and acquisitions. Such a process can counter innate biases that lead to indecision or incremental rather than bold moves. The four interrelated lenses we’ve described provide a road map for ensuring that a strategy plan is supported by the right investments and change in operating model.

Source:, December 2018
By: Kevin Laczkowski, Werner Rehm, and Blair Warner

Underskattar vi “robothotet”?

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Digitalisering / Internet on November 28th, 2018 by admin

Svenskarna eniga: Robotar inget hot mot våra jobb!

Svenskarna har en stark tilltro till sin egen arbetsförmåga – i alla fall i jämförelse med robotar. Inte en enda av över 1.000 tillfrågade tror att deras arbetsuppgifter helt eller delvis kan ersättas av automatiserad arbetskraft inom de närmaste tre åren.

Det visar en Sifo-undersökning som molntjänstbolaget Citrix beställt. Enligt svaren tror lejonparten – tre av fyra – att deras arbeten inte alls kan komma att påverkas av robotar.

Det är att underskatta kraften i digitaliseringen, enligt Citrix.

“Nya tekniska framsteg inom bland annat artificiell intelligens, maskinlärning och automatisering skapar helt nya förutsättningar för innovation och ritar om spelplanen för hur vi i dag gör affärer på. Jag tror att automatiseringen kommer göra människors arbete både bättre och mer intressant”, säger Mats Ericson, Sverigechef på Citrix.

Undersökningen visar att svaren skiljer sig stort mellan olika åldersgrupper, där de yngre är mer benägna att se sig ersättningsbara än de äldre. 21 procent i åldrarna 16–34 år tror att vissa arbetsuppgifter kan komma att automatiseras jämfört med endast 8 procent bland sysselsatta i åldrarna 56 år och uppåt. Totalsiffran oberoende av ålder är 14 procent. 10 procent tror att robotarnas intåg kan göra deras yrkesroller mer utvecklande.

Det är också fler bland de yngre som tror att deras yrkesroll kommer förändras inom tre år. I åldrarna 16–34 år är siffran 33 procent, jämfört med 22 procent i åldrarna 35–55 år och 16 procent bland personer som är över 56 år.

Kä, 27 november 2018

The importance of good leadership

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on November 28th, 2018 by admin

Leadership strength explains nearly 80 percent of the variance in companies’ ability to sustain exceptional performance over time.

Source:, November 2018

How to improve your company’s leadership coaching results

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on November 21st, 2018 by admin

In the geopolitical uncertainty following the Cold War, U.S. military leaders found themselves in uncharted territories. The world had become volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous — or VUCA, as they called it.

Leadership Coaching Results
That same term has also been used to describe today’s business environment, and industry leaders find themselves in similarly new territory. In a VUCA world, traditional command-and-control management styles simply don’t cut it.

By contrast, the best modern managers coach and empower their people to think critically and adapt fast, and it’s a learning process that takes significant time and trust. Still, it’s worth it. According to an ICF report from 2014, preparing managers to be good coaches boosts employee productivity and customer service by up to 39 percent.

Turning Managers Into Coaches
Companies that are aware of even the most basic coaching principles recognize that adults do not respond well to being told outright what to do. Instead, as research has shown, people need to discover new ideas and practices for themselves; that is, they benefit from leadership coaching.

Through the act of asking questions, having targeted conversations, and engaging people in practice and discovery, leaders can motivate significant changes in attitude and behavior back on the job — changes that can improve job performance. Knowing this, companies have recognized the benefit of embedding a coaching culture in their organizations, undertaking countless initiatives to inspire their leaders to become better coaches.

But do these leader-as-coach initiatives work? Have they successfully created coaching cultures? The results are mixed. Almost all big businesses have some sort of coaching skills program or initiative, but very few can call their initiatives successful.

Why is this? Unfortunately, too many coaching programs are written as if business still existed in a linear world. For example, the preponderance of the GROW model (set Goals, recognize Reality, identify Options, and Will it forward) shows a predilection for structured tools. Valuable as they are, however, structured tools aren’t necessarily the key to the agile transformation that businesses need in today’s fast-moving VUCA world.

So what does work? These four concepts are central to building into your business a coaching culture that gets results.

1. Make Every Minute Count
In order to become effective at professional coaching in a time-pressured world, managers have to retrain themselves on how to be fully present in one-on-one situations. Your presence as a coach is the single most important factor in your relationships. If you are distracted, judging, or worried about the other person, then it won’t matter how good your coaching is. It is better to have fewer, shorter, totally present interactions than to spend a longer time together with a lower quality of focus.

2. Emphasize Everyday Brilliance
Bring coaching to life at every opportunity by focusing on the everyday brilliance of your regular interactions rather than the occasional intimacy of long one-on-ones. Be sure to define and communicate which moments make a difference. What does it look like when someone starts a new task? How do they respond to making a mistake, and how could they respond differently? An overemphasis or reliance on processes such as the GROW model will cause you to miss those moments and miss the point of your relationships. Instead, stay engaged with daily activities — the ones that add up to new habits that improve performance.

3. Avoid Cookie-Cutter Training
Successful leaders encourage growth in others, but sometimes they express ideas in ways that aren’t easy to understand. It’s important to embrace that leadership that speaks to different ways of inspiring others. For this reason, you need to teach your leaders situational awareness: the ability to know when and how to adapt their instinctive approaches to fit others’ needs.

A good leader should be able to fluidly switch between styles. You’ll need to determine when it is best to step back and trust, as opposed to when it is time to ask the probing questions. When is it appropriate to share your own experience, and when it is best to provide challenging feedback? Each of these strategies has its place, and great line manager coaches know how to use the right mix at the right time.

4. Focus on Conversations, Not Questions
Abandon the notion that all a coach needs is the ability to ask great questions. Good coaches should use their adaptability to turn thoughtful questions into great conversations. Sure, questions are at the core of great coaching. However, having analyzed our database of more than 120,000 coaching conversations shows that distinct conversations will drive distinct changes.

With a VUCA environment in business today, managers can no longer rely on linear, cookie-cutter techniques to inspire people. Managers can take inspiration from coaches and learn how to adapt, be present, engage in conversation, and celebrate daily brilliance. By doing so, managers and their teams will become adept at navigating a volatile, confusing world with confidence, resilience, and adaptability.

Source:, October 2018
By: Jerry Connor, Head of BTS Coach, originally published by

Det här är det viktigaste för svenskarna på jobbet

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Leadership / Ledarskap on November 20th, 2018 by admin

Bra kollegor och givande arbetsuppgifter är några av de komponenter som svenskarna värderar högst när det kommer till trivsel på arbetsplatsen. Det visar en ny undersökning från Yougov.

Vi tillbringar en stor del av vår vakna tid på jobbet och hur vi trivs där påverkar också vårt välmående i det stora hela. Opinionsinstitutet Yougov har, på uppdrag av Metro, tillfrågat svenskarna vad som är viktigast för dem på arbetsplatsen. Hela 66 procent uppgav då att bra kollegor är det som de värdesätter allra högst.

– Det är ett intressant resultat, säger Niklas Laninge, psykolog och VD för Daily bits of, som utbildar inom hälsa och jobb, och fortsätter:
– De svarande har förmodligen erfarenhet av både bra och dåliga kollegor och det är lätt att tänka tillbaka på de dåliga. Sådant som vi har färskt i minnet och har lätt att komma ihåg är också det vi värderar som viktigare än andra saker.

Efter bra kollegor värderar vi att ha ”intressanta arbetsuppgifter” som det viktigaste, vilket inte förvånar Niklas Laninge. Däremot trodde han att meningsfullhet – att känna att ens arbete bidrar till en bättre värld – skulle hamna högre upp på resultatlistan än vad det gjorde.
– Det ligger i linje med vad som avgör vårt välmående, att kunna växa och utvecklas brukar vara saker som folk värderar väldigt högt.

Trots att vi har bra koll på vad vi gillar och behöver på vår arbetsplats tror Niklas Laninge att det är väldigt vanligt att stanna på ett jobb där man inte trivs. Det beror på att vi är vanemänniskor och är rädda för både förluster och förändringar.
– När det finns en risk ser man att folk avstår från att göra en förändring och istället står över valet, säger han.

Däremot har vi samtidigt ett behov av att få utvecklas. Om vi alltid står still på samma ställe utan att något händer löper vi stor risk för att det påverkar vårt mående negativt.
– Människor har en inneboende önskan om att växa, utmanas och göra något meningsfullt. Jobbet är en jättebra kanal för att göra det.

Det här är det viktigaste på arbetsplatsen:
1. Bra kollegor (66 %)
2. Intressanta arbetsuppgifter (57%)
3. Bra chef/chefer (53%)
4. Bra balans mellan jobb och fritid (39%)
5. Flexibla arbetstider (31%)
6. Utmanande arbetsuppgifter (27%)
7. Att jag känner att mitt jobb tillför något för samhället/bidrar till en bättre värld (22%)
8. Erkännande (22%)
9. Nära till hemmet (21%)
10. Möjligheter till avancemang (17%)
11. Möjligheter till vidareutbildning (17%)
12. Bra, ergonomisk arbetsmiljö (16%)
13. Bra kommunikationer (13%)
14. Att arbetsplatsen är estetiskt tilltalande (4%)
15. Annat (3%)

De svarande kunde välja flera olika svarsalternativ.

Länk (Metro)
Källa: Yougov.
Om undersökningen:
Undersökningen är genomförd av Yougov under perioden 12-16 augusti 2016. 1523 personer har svarat i undersökningen som genomförts via Yougovs panel med män och kvinnor i åldrarna 18-74 år.

Digital strategy: The four fights you have to win

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Digitalisering / Internet, Technology on November 19th, 2018 by admin

Yesterday’s tentative approaches won’t deliver; you need absolute clarity about digital’s demands, galvanized leadership, unparalleled agility, and the resolve to bet boldly.

If there’s one thing a digital strategy can’t be, it’s incremental. The mismatch between most incumbents’ business models and digital futures is too great—and the environment is changing too quickly—for anything but bold, inventive strategic plans to work.

Digital strategy: The four fights you have to win
Unfortunately, most strategic-planning exercises do generate incrementalism. We know this from experience and from McKinsey research: on average, resources don’t move between business units in large organizations. A recent book by our colleagues, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick, seeks to explain what causes this inertia (strategy’s social side, rooted in individual interests, group dynamics, and cognitive biases) and to suggest a way out (understanding the real odds of strategy and overhauling your planning processes to deliver the big moves that can overcome those long odds).

All this holds doubly true for digital strategy, which demands special attention. Leaders in many organizations lack clarity on what “digital” means for strategy. They underestimate the degree to which digital is disrupting the economic underpinnings of their businesses. They also overlook the speed with which digital ecosystems are blurring industry boundaries and shifting the competitive balance. (For more on why companies often fall short, see “Why digital strategies fail.”) What’s more, responding to digital by building new businesses and shifting resources away from old ones can be threatening to individual executives, who may therefore be slow to embrace (much less drive) the needed change.

In our experience, the only way for leaders to cut through inertia and incrementalism is to take bold steps to fight and win on four fronts: You must fight ignorance by using experiential techniques such as “go-and-sees” and war gaming to break leaders out of old ways of thinking and into today’s digital realities. You must fight fear through top-team effectiveness programs that spur senior executives to action. You must fight guesswork through pilots and structured analysis of use cases. And you must fight diffusion of effort—a constant challenge given the simultaneous need to digitize your core and innovate with new business models.

In this article, we will describe how real companies are winning each of these fights—overcoming inertia while building confidence about how to master the new economics of digital. You can join these companies in that effort, thereby giving your digital strategy a jolt and accelerating the shift of your strategy process as a whole, from old-fashioned annual planning to a more continuous journey yielding big moves and big gains even when the end point isn’t entirely clear.

1. Fighting ignorance

Many senior executives aren’t fully fluent in what digital is, much less up to speed on the ways it can change how their businesses operate or the competitive context. That’s problematic. Executives who aren’t conversant with digital are much more likely to fall prey to the “shiny object” syndrome: investing in cool digital technologies (which might only be relevant for other businesses) without a clear understanding of how they will generate value in the executives’ own business models. They also are more likely to make fragmented, overlapping, or subscale digital investments; to pursue initiatives in the wrong order; or to skip foundational moves that would enable more advanced ones to pan out. Finally, this lack of grounding slows down the rate at which a business deploys new digital technologies. In an era of powerful first-mover advantages, winners routinely lead the pack in leveraging cutting-edge digital technologies at scale to pull further ahead. Having only a remedial understanding of trends and technologies has become dangerous.

Raising your technology IQ
For inspiration on how to raise your company’s collective technology IQ, consider the experience of a global industrial conglomerate that knew it had to digitize but didn’t think its leadership team had the expertise to drive the needed changes. The company created a digital academy to help educate its leadership about relevant digital trends and technologies and to provide a forum where executives could ask questions and talk with their peers. Academy leaders also brought in external experts on a few topics the company lacked sufficient internal expertise to address.

Supplementing the academy effort (aimed at leaders) was an organization-wide assessment of digital capabilities and an evaluation of the company’s culture. This provided a fact base, which everyone could understand, about what the organization needed to build over the course of the digital transformation. As business leaders developed digital plans, they were accountable for explaining and defending them to other executives. They also had to help gather those plans into an enterprise-wide digital strategy that every business leader understood and had helped to create.

Overcoming competitive blind spots
If your company resembles many we know, it’s still stuck in some old ways of thinking about where money gets made and by whom. You’re also likely to be overlooking ways digital is changing both the economics of the game and the players on the field in your industry. If any of this sounds familiar, you probably need a jolt—something that forces you to think differently about your business. More specifically, you need to start thinking about it as digital disruptors do. In our experience, this demands a process that begins with a sprint to get everything moving, to see what your industry (and your company’s role in it) could look like if you started from scratch, and to redraw your road map.

The financing division of a European financial-services company went through such a process when it tried to understand digital’s impact on its current lines of business. For example, a conversation began in the auto-loans division with the question “how can we make it easier for people to get their loans online?” It turned into a deeper examination of “how does our business model change if people stop buying cars and start buying mobility?” Similarly, an auto insurer might move from asking “how can I sell car insurance online better” to “what does car insurance mean in the context of autonomous vehicles?” There’s no substitute for exploring such questions, which emerge when digital, regulatory, and societal trends collide with today’s value chain (for more on these collisions, see “Digital strategy: Understanding the economics of disruption”).

Once the new realities are discovered, companies should speed up the process of understanding how other players—including nontraditional ones—will respond. The financial-services provider jump-started things by holding a series of war-gaming workshops. It divided its leadership team into groups and assigned them to role-play potential attackers such as Amazon, Google, or small, cherry-picking start-ups. Seeing through the eyes of “baggage-free” attackers inspires an awareness of how players with very different core competencies are likely to act in the new landscape. It can also propel a shared sense of urgency to change the old ways of thinking and acting.

These sessions radically changed the way the company’s leaders thought about their business, their industry, and the digital shifts remaking both. The end result was a set of leading-edge ideas for deploying digital to make the current operating model faster and more effective, for investing in new digital offerings, for designing and launching a new digital ecosystem to meet the emerging needs of digital consumers, and for partnering with start-ups beginning to emerge as leading players in advanced mobility.

2. Fighting fear
Getting left behind by digital first movers can be hazardous to your company’s future. But many of your executives may perceive responding to digital—making the big bets, building new businesses, shifting resources away from old ones—as hazardous to their own future. As we’ve noted, that exacerbates the social side of strategy and breeds strategic inertia. If you want to make big digital moves, you must fight the fear that your top team and managers will inevitably experience.

From what we have seen, this kind of fight doesn’t happen organically. You need to design a programmatic effort with the same rigor you would insist on to redesign key processes across your organization. This typically involves making a clear case that executives can’t hide from the changes digital is bringing and that encouraging and accelerating change—rather than chasing it—can create more value. Then you need to give executives the tools and support network they must have to succeed as leaders of that journey. Many companies focus on the extensive detailing of digital-initiative plans but skip the critical step of building an equally rigorous program to sustain the leaders driving change.

Honest dialogue
At the industrial company we discussed earlier, the move to digital implied significant change in the characteristics leaders required to be effective. Naturally, concerns about waning influence, or worse, followed for many of the company’s 20 or so business-unit leaders. The industrial conglomerate confronted these fears head-on by organizing a top-team effectiveness program to surface anxieties, build awareness of how they were affecting decision making, and define how leaders could remain relevant. In workshops, executives discussed the specific mind-sets and behavioral shifts needed to gain “ownership” of digital initiatives as a group and to become role models for their organizations.

Support networks
Leaders also formed communities that cut across their businesses, initially to share best practices and coordinate the timing of implementation. Over time, the role of these communities grew to include skill-building activities, such as bringing in speakers with specialized capabilities and motivational messages and organizing Silicon Valley go-and-sees that reinforced the importance of leading digital change. The communities also provided peer support to help teams navigate the new landscape.

We have seen other organizations similarly coalesce around digital-leadership training (sometimes supported by digital advisory boards) that helps executives to become comfortable with—even embrace—the uncertainty of the destination and the career trade-offs needed for a well-executed digital strategy. These support networks dovetail with, and bolster, the digital IQ–raising efforts we described earlier. Indeed, we find that leaders who understand the shifting economics also understand that their careers will be affected one way or another.

3. Fighting guesswork

Pursuing an aggressive digital strategy involves leaps into the unknown: simultaneously, you are likely to be moving into new areas and overhauling existing businesses with new technologies. What’s more, in many digital markets, the premium of being a first mover makes it necessary not only to shift direction but also to do so faster than your peers. The combination of ambiguity and the need for speed sometimes gives rise to guesswork and moves that are hasty or poorly thought out—and to anxiety about whether a move isn’t going to work or just needs more time.

Building the proof points as you go
One way to fight guesswork is to anchor your strategy decisions to a thesis about the business outcomes that different digital investments will produce. This is less about elaborate business-school modeling and more about thinking that draws fast, ground-level lessons from the data to determine whether your business logic is correct. Put another way, it means figuring out if there is sufficient value to make it worthwhile to invest something—as part of a process of learning even more. This approach increases the odds of successful implementation: a well-articulated view of the outcomes means that you can track how well the strategy is working. It also makes it easier to assess whether the new direction is worth it in terms of both financial capital and organizational pain.

Those proof points must be grounded in digital reality. Consider the experience of a global oil and gas company investigating the potential impact of several advanced technologies on its business. Rather than develop theoretical value-creation scenarios, the company’s digital center of excellence got busy exploring: How might sensors, robots, and artificial intelligence improve productivity and safety in unmanned operations? What operating hurdles, such as skill gaps among managers and frontline workers, would need to be overcome?

“Skunkworks” efforts began to give the company sharper insights into the timetables and financial profiles of different investments, so it avoided both the “finger in the air” syndrome (which dooms some digital efforts) and excessive modeling (which bogs down others). The end result was a value-thesis projection of a pretax cash-flow improvement exceeding 20 percent by 2025. That built the confidence of senior leaders and the board alike.

Pilots and stage gates
A second way to reduce the need for guesswork is to take full advantage of real-time data and the opportunities they provide for experimentation. Digital does amplify the gut-wrenching uncertainty by multiplying the strategic choices leaders face while reducing the time frame for making and implementing those decisions. But it also contains a silver lining: the potential for gaining rapid, data-driven insights into how things are going. Information on the progress of a product launch, for example, is available in days rather than months. That makes rapid course corrections possible and, ultimately, considerably improves the chances of success.

The oil and gas company mentioned earlier got a rapid bead on the impact that its digital initiatives were having on its business performance when it automated the evaluation of several business cases. Testing was more or less continuous, which reduced the level of anxiety about the investments, because executives had hard data on how things were performing rather than relying on guesses or intuition in realms they didn’t know extremely well. It also gave them more confidence to push cutting-edge solutions: they didn’t need to see how other oil and gas companies did things when they could move first and see, in near real time, what worked and what didn’t.

An important element of this nimble approach was breaking up big bets into smaller, staged investments. While the oil and gas company was ready to invest in digital, it was decidedly uncomfortable with throwing money at a problem and hoping for the best. It therefore developed a series of rigorous stage gates for investments managed by a new, central digital-transformation office. The office was charged with overseeing the portfolio of digital investments to ensure that the most promising projects were funded and others defunded before they soaked up valuable resources. In tandem, the head of the company’s digital efforts was vested with the responsibility for approving which ideas would move to initial development, basing these decisions on the organization’s overall vision for digital.

The ideas, which originated mostly with the business units, included clear requirements for testing. The “fail fast” mind-set was embedded from the outset because it allowed the company to learn quickly from mistakes and to minimize wasted funding. Another payoff was that the central team could identify synergies, which allowed the development costs of some investments to be shared rather than borne by a single business. These processes helped temper some of the risks of the bold investments the company was making, gave leaders the confidence to venture ahead as first movers, and kept open the option to correct course quickly when the data pointed in another direction.

4. Fighting diffusion
Effective strategy requires focus, but responding to digital inevitably risks diffusion of effort, or “spreading the peanut butter too thinly.” Most companies we know are trying, and struggling, to do two things at once: to reinvent the core by digitizing and automating some of its key elements, for example, and to create innovative new digital businesses. The challenge is acute because of the dizzying pace of digital change and the uncertainty surrounding the adoption of new technology. Even if the technology for autonomous vehicles pans out, for instance, when will the majority of people really begin to use them? Given the impossibility of knowing, it’s easy to wind up with an unfocused hodgepodge of digital initiatives—a far cry from a strategy.

Two concepts can help you navigate. First, view your company as a portfolio of initiatives at different stages of seeding, nurturing, growing, or pruning. Our colleague Lowell Bryan championed this view upward of 15 years ago, and it is more relevant than ever in our digital age because the opportunities, time frames, and economics of core businesses can be very different from those of new ones—so resources and efforts shouldn’t be applied uniformly.

Second, embrace the necessity of “big moves,” such as the dramatic reallocation of resources, sustained capital investment, radical productivity improvements, and disciplined M&A. As our colleagues have shown, successful market-beating strategies nearly always rest on such moves. Making them mutually reinforcing, so that developments in the core help to support new digital businesses and vice versa, is a critical part of managing the risks of diffusion.

To understand what the application of these ideas looks like in practice, consider the experience of a global IT-services company wrestling with how much to invest in digital over the next five years (rather than use standard R&D funding across all of the company’s business lines). That meant scrutinizing which traditional businesses faced obsolescence as a result of digital, whether digital could stretch any of those lifetimes (or if immediate divestment was preferable), which new digital businesses to invest in, and how much to invest.

A portfolio approach
As a first step, the company went through its portfolio business by business, focusing on three questions: Which emerging digital products and services were missing from the portfolio? Which product offerings and elements of the existing operating model should be digitized or fully digitally reengineered to improve customer journeys? And what areas should be abandoned? The answers for the company’s healthcare markets differed from those for banking, but the company became comfortable with hard choices and more attuned to new opportunities by tying all decisions to clear use cases.

As part of this exercise, the company developed scenarios for how the value pools in each of its industry verticals would probably shift across component customer value chains. It wanted to get a sense of the types of services that clients and potential clients were likely to demand and thus might try to obtain from new suppliers or IT outsourcers. For businesses where more revenue would be likely to shift, the company was comfortable placing bigger bets on new digital offerings, in contrast with its approach to businesses where the revenue at stake wasn’t changing as much.

Big, mutually reinforcing moves
This systematic evaluation of value-pool opportunities across the portfolio generated a frank discussion of how the organization’s risk appetite had to change. It also catalyzed a greater willingness to invest in new digital businesses—which the company did, to the tune of more than $1.5 billion. As part of this strategic evolution, the company launched an aggressive program to better leverage foundational digital capabilities, such as automation, advanced analytics, and big data. These capabilities, to be sure, were key building blocks for the new digital businesses. Just as important, however, by deploying the capabilities at scale across existing businesses, the company was better able to stretch the life of its core offerings.

The portfolio strategy paid dividends both in revenue gains and cost reductions. For example, investing in a balanced fashion between core and new businesses led to faster than expected revenue streams from new offerings. The company estimated that 40 percent of its revenues would flow from them within two to three years. Moreover, its digitally improved core businesses, with a sizable base of existing customer revenues, provided additional funding for the new digital portfolio. That increased the leadership’s commitment to the strategy, bolstering confidence that the new portfolio offerings would provide growth more than compensating for the eventual decline of core businesses.

Your best digital competitors—the ones you really need to worry about—aren’t taking small steps. Neither can you. This doesn’t mean that a digital strategy must be designed or put to work with any less confidence than strategies were in the past, though. Strategy has always required closing gaps in knowledge about complex markets, inspiring executive teams (and employees) to go beyond their fears and reluctance to act, and calibrating risks when you bet boldly.

The good news is that the digital era, for all its stomach-churning speed and volatility, also serves up more information about the competitive environment than yesterday’s strategists could ever imagine. Simultaneously, analytically backed, rapid test-and-learn approaches have opened up new avenues to help companies correct course while staying true to their strategic goals. Today’s leaders need to step up by persuading their organizations that digital strategies may be tougher than other strategies but are potentially more rewarding—and well worth the bolder bets and cultural reforms required, first, to survive and, ultimately, to thrive.

Source:, October 2018
By Tanguy Catlin, Laura LaBerge and Shannon Varney
About the authors: Tanguy Catlin is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Boston office, where Shannon Varney is an associate partner; Laura LaBerge is a senior practice manager of Digital McKinsey and is based in the Stamford office.

Lär dig fortare och bättre (enligt vetenskapen)

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on November 8th, 2018 by admin

Vill du bli bättre på att lära dig nya saker? Psykologen Niklas Laninge ger sex råd baserat på vad neurovetenskapen säger om inlärning och talar om att det inte finns några genvägar.

Det finns inga genvägar till inlärning. Tyvärr inte ens neurovetenskapliga sådana. Men den som vill bli bättre på att lära sig saker har garanterat något att vinna på att förstå sin hjärna lite bättre. Använder du kunskapen nedan rätt så kan en möjlig biverkning vara att saker du läser faktiskt fastnar.

1. Förändra din hjärna.
I hjärnan har vi omkring 100 miljarder nervceller. De är på olika sätt kopplade till varandra i nätverk. När vi lär oss något förstärks relevanta kopplingar. En vanlig analogi är att hjärnan är som en muskel – ju mer vi tränar på en viss sak, desto starkare blir vi. Länge trodde forskare att den här typen av kopplingar blev mer och mer fasta ju äldre vi blev, och därmed svårare att förändra. En god nyhet är att sådana antaganden nu har motbevisats.

Begreppet neuroplasticitet innebär att hjärnan är föränderlig genom hela livet. Det verkar förvisso finnas vissa inlärningsfördelar för barn då de inte byggt upp så många kopplingar i hjärnan ännu. Men att detta skulle innebära att loppet är kört för alla över 25 är falskt. Med andra ord: Utmana dig själv och din hjärna genom hela livet!

2. Var nyfiken.
Alla som suttit på en föreläsning man inte själv valt att gå på vet hur svårt det är att ta in något som man finner ointressant. År 2014 kunde ett forskarlag, med hjälp av hjärnavbildningstekniken fMRI, visa att försöksdeltagare som uppgav att de var nyfikna på att minnas en viss uppsättning bilder hade en högre aktivitet i hippocampus, en sjöhästformad struktur i hjärnan som antas spela en viktig roll när vi lagrar minnen. Personer som inte upplevde att de var nyfikna visade inte samma aktivitet i hippocampus. När forskarna några dagar senare bad testdeltagarna att försöka minnas vad de lärt sig så bekräftades att nyfikenheten underlättat inlärningen.

Ett tips är att även i de mest tråkiga stunder försöka hitta något som väcker din nyfikenhet i det du ska lära dig.
Så hur ska du agera på dessa rön? Ett tips är att även i de mest tråkiga stunder försöka hitta något som väcker din nyfikenhet i det du ska lära dig. Till exempel: Hur relaterar det till dig och ditt liv?

3. Stirra på en vägg.
Numera finns det i princip alltid något att göra. Den som precis lagt ifrån sig kursboken plockar snabbt upp telefonen för att kolla Instagram. Den som nyss nattat barn slår sig ner framför Netflix. Hjärnan hålls ständigt igång, och det verkar få konsekvenser för inlärningen. I en studie från universitetet i Edinburgh undersökte tre neuroforskare effekten av att ta en paus efter inlärning. Försöksdeltagare ombads att lägga en serie ord på minnet. Efter inlärningsperioden ordinerades en grupp ”vakenvila” i tio minuter medan en annan grupp fick ägna tio minuter åt att spela ett spel. Den förstnämnda gruppen presterade bättre på både lång och kort sikt jämfört med spelgruppen.

Kasta dig alltså inte från inlärning till underhållning och sen tillbaka igen. Ta en paus, stirra på en vägg och låt det du just läst eller hört sjunka in. Men läs gärna de följande tre stegen innan du tillämpar just detta råd!

4. Sov.
Powernaps och vakenvila i all ära men inget förbereder oss för inlärning så bra som en god natts sömn. I en studie utförd på militärer undersöktes hur sömnbrist påverkade soldaternas kognitiva förmågor. Just att störa soldaternas sömn är ett vanligt inslag i många militärutbildningar, så deltagarna var väl förberedda. Trots det så minskade en natt av förlorad sömn deras kognitiva förmåga med 30 procent. Efter två nätters dålig sömn så var tappet hela 60 procent. Att uppmana alla att sova ordentligt kan sticka i ögonen på många, inte minst småbarnsföräldrar. Tipset är i stället att vara snäll mot den som förlorat en natt och inte ställa för höga krav på hen, även när hen i fallet är en själv.

5. Skapa tid för återhämtning.
Minns du hippocampus från tips två? Alltså den del av hjärnan som är aktiv när vi lagrar minnen. Har du själv känt hur minnet sviker dig när du är stressad? När vi är stressade utsöndras hormonet kortisol som bland annat hjälper oss att möta utmaningar. På kort sikt är alltså kortisol någonting bra. Problemet är att den stress vi ofta möts av i dag sällan är just kortvarig. Stressen lägger sig aldrig och således heller inte kortisolutsöndringen. Det är här hippocampus kommer in. Den här strukturen påverkas nämligen av just kortisol. Faktum är att man har kunnat se hur personer som lider av långvarig stress har en minskad hippocampus.

6. Sorry!
Korsord, sudoku och hjärnträning ger ingen boost. I dag finns det tusentals appar som påstår sig kunna bistå med så kallad braintraining. I regel är apparna fyllda med olika typer av tankenötter, geometriska problem och ibland något som liknar sudoku.

En grupp forskare vid University of Texas ville titta närmare på om det finns något vetenskapligt belägg för sådana aktiviteter. I deras studie fick försöksdeltagare i åldrarna 60 till 90 år ägna sig åt utvalda aktiviteter under 15 timmar i veckan i tre månader. Vissa blev ordinerade mer krävande uppgifter som att lära sig något nytt (bland annat att fotografera med digitalkamera). Andra fick ägna sig åt mer bekanta aktiviteter som att lyssna på klassisk musik och att lösa just korsord. Efter tre månader var det just de deltagare som tvingats lära sig nya färdigheter som också uppvisade ett förbättrat minne och en ökad kognitiv förmåga. De som ägnade sig åt korsord blev också bättre – men bara på att lösa just korsord. Den så kallade spridningseffekten tycks alltså vara begränsad.

Tänk på att hjärnan är plastisk och att det aldrig är för sent att lära sig nya färdigheter. Utmana dig själv att lära dig något nytt så ska du se att det även ger effekt på allt gammalt du redan lärt dig.

Källa:, 8 november 2018

Niklas Laninge är psykolog och författare. Tillsammans med Arvid Janson har han skrivit böckerna Beteendedesign (Natur & Kultur) och Beslutsfällan (Volante).

Making work meaningful: A leader’s guide

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on October 28th, 2018 by admin

People who find meaning at work are happier, more productive, and more engaged. Four practical interventions can help make the search more likely to succeed.

By now, it is well understood that people who believe their job has meaning and a broader purpose are more likely to work harder, take on challenging or unpopular tasks, and collaborate effectively. Research repeatedly shows that people deliver their best effort and ideas when they feel they are part of something larger than the pursuit of a paycheck. (For more, see the companion article, “The link between meaning and organizational health.”)

Most business leaders know this. They take pains to broadcast the company’s strategy to employees. They say they really want employees to know that the organization has a higher purpose. And yet many of these messages aren’t getting through: in one survey of senior executives around the world, only 38 percent of leaders said that their staff had a clear understanding of the organization’s purpose and commitment to its core values and beliefs. US and global Gallup polls confirm this, finding that about 70 percent of employees are not “involved in, enthusiastic about, or committed to their work.”Another study showed that nearly nine out of ten American workers believe they do not contribute to their full potential, because they don’t feel excited about their work.
At a time when many companies are engineering jarring transformational changes to become more agile, digitally enabled, and proactive competitors, it is more important than ever that employees find meaning in their work. Traditional rewards systems and career ladders are disappearing, so workers need new reasons to believe in their companies.
We have found four organizational-design interventions that can help. They are simple, inexpensive, practical, and local and can help employees at any level of the organization. This kind of straightforward practice is often overlooked in ambitious corporate initiatives. But it is critical for any company hoping to create an environment where organizational change is personal and where innovation becomes a bottom-up process of purposeful actions initiated by employees themselves.

1. Reduce anonymity
Humans are collaborators. We have evolved that way, understanding that we can accomplish more by cooperating face-to-face with others. Modern organizations, with their siloed workplaces and increasingly digitized operations, can foster separation and anonymity. But perceptive leaders can find ways to establish deeper connections between any worker and his or her customers.
Consider a cafeteria experiment conducted by Ryan Buell, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, and his coauthors Tami Kim and Chia-Jung Tsay.4 In many cafeterias, cooks and diners do not see each other, since waiters serve as the intermediary between the two. Buell changed that dynamic by setting up a video feed from the grill station to an iPad in the kitchen. There was no sound and no interaction, but the chefs could see who was ordering the food that they would prepare.
Immediately, the cooks started to work differently. For example, they began freshly preparing eggs for each customer, instead of grilling several eggs in advance and plating those when ordered. Simply seeing their customer changed everything. In short order (ahem), employee satisfaction soared. Better still, customer satisfaction went up 14.4 percent, according to Buell. Even though the chefs went unseen, the video feed had created a connection that added meaning to their work.
Alistair Spalding, artistic director and chief executive of Sadler’s Wells Theatre, in London, understands the value of direct contact. About ten years ago, Spalding realized that he had to improve morale at the venerable dance venue—in particular, among its supporting staff of marketers, stagehands, and administrators, as well as others. The theater had endured a history of strikes, and the prep work for many shows lacked the precision and attention to detail that Spalding craved.
Spalding saw that the artists who performed at Sadler’s Wells were essentially anonymous to the staff. The employees did their work during the day, the artists showed up at night to perform, and the groups never connected. Unsurprisingly, the employees demonstrated relatively little interest in the theater’s overarching intent to become the center of innovation in dance. Indeed, the staff tended to have a somewhat negative attitude toward the artists.
Spalding decided to combat this by launching an “associate artists” program. Artists who performed at the theater regularly would get free office space at the theater and access to its rehearsal studios and cafeteria. Spalding went so far as to position Sadler’s Wells as a center of innovation, where artists could meet, practice, dream big, or just hang out.
This was a great boon to the artists. But the employees benefited as well. As the theater became more of a home to a community of artists, the artists became much less anonymous to the employees. Gradually, Spalding began noticing proactive changes and improvements in the performance of the employees. For example, lighting staffers became more involved in the selection of lamps for performances, bringing a level of technical expertise that had been lacking before. Similarly, the cafeteria staff became more engaged as they saw how their work contributed to a dynamic atmosphere that, in turn, encouraged artists to spend time at the theater. The marketing and sales side benefited as well, and over the next four years, attendance at Sadler’s Wells grew 25 percent, to 470,000 visitors a year.
Spalding believes that none of this would have occurred without the associate-artist program. “I thought that it was important that it wasn’t just administrators around,” he said. “That there are actual living artists in the building reminds everyone of what we’re doing. The whole organization is involved in the work of artists.” By replacing anonymity with familiarity, Spalding had altered attitudes and behavior, laying the groundwork for success.

2. Help people grasp the impact of their work on the customer
Many companies give workers data about their customers. But giving employees a clear sense of how their work directly affects specific customers is more profound.
Wharton School professor Adam Grant conducted a series of experiments with university fund-raisers.6 Fund-raising is a tough job; many people do not appreciate unsolicited calls, and yet the typical fund-raiser must make numerous calls before receiving a pledge. Most employers pay for performance: a fund-raiser’s remuneration depends almost completely on the donations secured. But the job is so monotonous and taxing that productivity and morale are generally quite low.
Grant conducted two experiments. In one, he arranged for fund-raisers to hear a senior executive and a board member of a university speak about the significance of education in society and the importance of the fund-raisers’ work to scholarship recipients. Nothing came of these supposedly motivational speeches. Productivity didn’t improve at all.
In the other experiment, Grant arranged for fund-raisers to meet a student who had received a scholarship. The student explained that the scholarship had changed his life, allowing him to attend university and study abroad. By conversing with the student, the fund-raisers saw the impact of their work firsthand.
After meeting the student, fund-raisers placed many more calls than before and secured larger donations per call. Research shows that the person on the other end of the line can sense the caller’s enthusiasm. The fund-raisers’ new attitude made their phone conversations more engaging, convincing, and successful. In the two months after meeting the student, fund-raisers raised 295 percent more than they had in the two months before—an average of $9,704.58 versus $2,459.44.
Helping people understand the impact of their work does not have to be complicated or expensive. It should be personal, however. These kinds of firsthand interactions should be built into an organization systematically. One useful practice is to insist that all employees—whether they are customer facing or not—make regular on-site visits to the end users of the company’s products.
That is what Dorothee Ritz, Microsoft’s general manager for Austria, did with her Vienna-based employees.8 Ritz insisted that everyone see for themselves how people were implementing the company’s products and services. One manager spent several days out on the street with police officers to learn how they use remote data. Another manager spent two days in a hospital to see the impact of going paperless. Soon, Ritz noticed, employees were suggesting more pointed solutions for customers based on their on-site visits. According to Ritz, this simple practice gives employees a better sense of the real value of their work.

3. Notice, recognize, and reward good work
Employees want to know that their work is noticed and valued. Smart companies find meaningful ways to do this without doling out raises and bonuses.
Wikipedia relies heavily on unpaid editors who volunteer to create and correct its pages. Retaining these editors is key to the success of the company. To further this effort, the company gave UCLA Anderson assistant professor Jana Gallus permission to randomly select a number of people from a group of 4,000 eligible editors to receive an award (the remainder served as the study’s control group).
The Wikipedia award had two components: an electronic image posted on the editor’s personal page and recognition on an official Wikipedia page. Since editors use pseudonyms, the award conferred no direct personal gains in a traditional sense. Nevertheless, this symbolic award spurred productivity (up by 13 percent over 11 months) and retention (up 20 percent). Many of the award-winning editors started taking on more ambitious tasks, such as writing articles from scratch, while others tackled critical behind-the-scenes coordination and maintenance. The editors also became more engaged in helping others: reward recipients were twice as likely as other editors to answer requests for help from community members.
“Thank you very much,” one editor posted on the award’s public discussion page. “I have spent much time with Wikipedia. The recognition . . . makes me very happy.” Another wrote, “I feel very honored to receive this award. It makes me realize that contributions, even if they may be small, are recognized here.”
Put simply, work becomes more meaningful when people know that their actions are noticed and appreciated. The recognition doesn’t necessarily need to be public, as Bryan Stroube from the London Business School and Robert Vesco from Bloomberg discovered when they studied the comments posted on the website Hacker News.
The site is part of Y Combinator, which provides seed money to start-ups in exchange for an equity stake. The company built Hacker News for entrepreneurs to post ideas for start-ups and get reactions from a relevant community. All users, for example, can “like” a particular comment when they value it. At one point in its history, Hacker News made the number of likes that someone had accumulated visible to the community, but at another time, it showed the number only to the individual commenter. By comparing the public and private periods, Stroube and Vesco showed that publicizing the numbers of likes did not increase useful comments across the system. The number alone gave commenters a sense that their feedback was being noticed and appreciated.
Many companies can create an internal network where employees can “like” the work of colleagues. But the personal touch is important as well. Good leaders make constructive praise a regular part of their management routine.

4. Connect daily work to a grander goal

Our first three suggestions offer simple ways to help employees feel that their work is valuable. Our fourth suggestion offers a concrete way to help employees understand how their daily responsibilities tie in to a higher meaning, to a purpose larger than themselves.
Almost every company says they would like to do this, but few succeed. Business leaders regularly communicate their company’s higher purpose in a vision or mission statement and try to reinforce it at conferences and workshops.
While these efforts are well intended, few have a positive or lasting impact. Sometimes, the problem is the vision itself. Gerard Langeler, a cofounder of Mentor Graphics, said that his own company fell into such a “vision trap” when it defined its vision as “changing the way the world designs,” an expression of purpose that was too grand and too detached from daily tasks.10 Sometimes, the problem is the way that the vision is communicated. Remember the fund-raiser experiment? When leaders try to impose a vision, employees tend not to take the message to heart. Employees need to make the connection from their work to the company vision themselves.
To help leaders stimulate this bottom-up process, we recommend a simple intervention technique based on the work of Antonio Freitas and his colleagues from the State University of New York and New York University.11 The exercise pushes people to think about their work in an increasingly high-level way and can be exercised one-on-one, during team meetings, or in internal workshops.
Here is how it works. Imagine a manager at XYZ Technology who regularly fills out performance-evaluation forms. The exercise begins by asking the manager, “Why are you completing these forms?” Perhaps she would answer, “In order to give my team members feedback about their performance and to help them improve.” A second question builds on her answer: “Why do you want to help them improve?” She might say, “so that my team can develop better enterprise software.” A third repetition of the question builds on the second answer: “Why do you want to build better enterprise software?” She might answer, “to improve the efficiency of our customers.” A fourth and final question gets to the essence of her work: “And why do you want customers to be more efficient?” The response might be, “so they are free to be their most creative and productive selves.” That is a grand goal—indeed, the kind of thing a company might say in its mission statement. As each of her answers builds on her previous ones, the manager comes to align her task with the organization’s loftiest goals.
Wharton School’s Andrew Carton examined how a similar exercise worked at NASA during the 1960s, when the agency was tasked with putting an astronaut on the moon. In four steps, employees discovered a meaningful connection between their work and NASA’s ultimate aspirations. These steps linked their daily tasks (“I am building electrical circuits”) to NASA’s objective (“I am putting a man on the moon”) and even to a greater purpose (“I am advancing science”). According to Carton, the personal connection to a meaningful common goal boosted employees’ “coordination and collective enthusiasm.” As one former NASA employee recalled, “We didn’t want to go home at night. We just wanted to keep going, and we couldn’t wait to get up and get back to work in the morning. The clarity of NASA’s strategic objective helps remind managers of another important point about meaning: namely, that employees must see clearly how their organization is trying to contribute to a higher purpose, in the form of concrete strategic intent.
Research confirms that people are more motivated and persistent when they think about why they are doing something (for instance, losing weight to become healthy) instead of what they are doing (eating a salad). After the fund-raisers met the student, they focused less on what they were doing (making unpleasant phone calls) and more on why (helping students fund their college education). When people understand and believe in the reasons behind their actions, they display greater resilience and stamina.

The idea that employees perform better when they feel a deep connection to their work is a fundamental part of many corporate reorganizations, where agile systems and other efforts are designed to tap a company’s greatest asset: the personal creativity of its employees. But it is not enough to institute systemic changes and hope that employees will rise to the task. Instead, senior executives should take the sorts of practical steps that help employees in their search for meaning at work. When successful, these efforts provide a road map for aligning the personal aspirations of employees with the most important goals of the organization—a combination that benefits everyone.

Source:, October 2018
By: Dan Cable and Freek Vermeulen
About the authors: an Cable is a professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School and the author of Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do (Harvard Business Review Press, 2018). Freek Vermeulen is the chair of strategy and entrepreneurship faculty at the London Business School and the author of Breaking Bad Habits: Defy Industry Norms and Reinvigorate Your Business (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017).

Servant Leadership: Moving from Mindset to Skill Set

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on October 23rd, 2018 by admin

“A servant leadership mindset is all about focusing on others rather than yourself,” says bestselling business author Ken Blanchard. As part of research for a new book, Servant Leadership in Action, Blanchard had an opportunity to explore both the mindset and the skill set needed for leaders interested in adopting an others-focused approach to leadership.

“The mindset is to recognize that there are two parts of servant leadership, says Blanchard. “There is the vision, direction, and goals—that’s the leadership part. Everybody needs to know where you’re going and what you’re trying to accomplish.

“The servant leadership skill set is turning that vision into action. Now you are looking at the day-to-day management behaviors people need from their leader to succeed.”

Blanchard shares some examples:
Developing Others: “Servant leaders are always preparing people to be their own boss by helping them own their job and be in charge. This means identifying a direct report’s development level and providing the direction and support they need to grow and develop.”

Delegating: “Servant leaders first make sure that people know what the goals are. Then they turn the organizational pyramid and the reporting relationships upside down. They ask questions like How can I help? and What can I do to make a difference to help you accomplish your goals?

Directing Others: “It’s not really about directing them,” says Blanchard. “It’s about helping them. Sometimes when people are new they need clear direction—it is a temporary leadership behavior to help someone take ownership of their job and get to where they want to go.”

Servant leadership is a journey, says Blanchard. It’s both a mindset and a skill set. Once you get it right on the inside you can begin to develop the skills related to goal setting and performance management. Blanchard points to two of his company’s flagship programs as examples of how servant leadership principles can be taught as a part of a larger leadership development curriculum.

“In many ways, servant leadership is the overarching theme that covers the concepts of two of our most popular programs: Situational Leadership® II and First-time Manager.

“For example, Situational Leadership® II has three skills that generate both great relationships and results: goal setting, diagnosis, and matching. Notice that the first skill is goal setting. All good performance starts with clear goals—which, for a manager, are clearly part of the leadership aspect of servant leadership.

“Once clear goals are set, an effective situational leader works with their direct report to diagnose the direct report’s development level—competence and commitment—on each specific goal. Then together they determine the appropriate leadership style—the amount of directive and supportive behavior—that will match the person’s development level on each goal. That way the manager can help them accomplish their goals—the servant aspect of servant leadership. The key here is for managers to remember they must use different strokes for different folks but also different strokes for the same folks, depending on the goal and the person’s development level.

“In our First-time Manager program we teach the concepts of One Minute Management. The First Secret of The One Minute Manager is setting One Minute Goals—which for a manager is part of the leadership aspect of servant leadership. Once employees are clear on goals, an effective One Minute Manager tries to catch people doing something right so that they can deliver a One Minute Praising—the Second Secret. If the person is doing something wrong or not performing as well as agreed upon, a One Minute Re-Direct is appropriate—the Third Secret. When effective One Minute Managers are praising or redirecting their employees, they are engaging in the servant aspect of servant leadership—working for their employees to help them win.

“Why are the concepts of Situational Leadership® II and The One Minute Manager so widely used around the world? I think it’s because they are clear examples of servant leadership in action. Both concepts recognize that vision and direction—the leadership aspect of servant leadership—are the responsibility of the traditional hierarchy. People need to be clear on their goals. Implementation—the servant aspect of servant leadership—is all about turning the hierarchy upside down and helping employees accomplish their agreed-upon goals.”

Mindset and Skill Set
“Saying you’re a servant leader is a good start, but it is your behavior that makes it real for people,” says Blanchard. “Servant leadership is a combination of mindset and skill set that focuses on serving others first so that organizations develop great relationships, achieve great results, and delight their customers.”

By: David Witt

Want happy customers? Focus on happy employees

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Customer care / Kundvård, Försäljning / Sales on October 6th, 2018 by admin

It was 5:18 a.m. – after a five-hour, red-eye flight – when I arrived at the tony Vineyard Resort, where in three hours, I would face 15 participants in a two-day leadership training program. But the receptionist couldn’t find my reservation and didn’t seem to care much. When I got to my room 90 minutes later, a note of greeting read: “Hospitality and service as a way of life.” Oh, the irony!

The incident spotlights that being customer-centric requires a culture where employees must live the inspirational quotes espoused. A decade ago, McKinsey and Egon Zehnder studied the relationship between managerial quality and revenue growth. The analysis found that customer impact – the capacity to grasp the evolving needs of customers – led all leadership competencies.
The degree of customer impact also correlated with a company’s revenue growth and the effectiveness of its top executives across all growth situations, as well as with the senior teams and managers below them. It helps define a customer-centric culture where employees individually and collectively prioritize customer needs in everything they do.

Why are some organizations better than others at creating leaders focused on customer impact? How do you recognize a customer-centric culture? Invariably, a customer-centric organization displays:
– A clear vision that customer experience is a priority.
– Formal mechanisms to co-create that experience with customers and complementary partners.
– Accountability created among employees.

In such organizations, employees at all levels possess the freedom to drive customer service excellence. Customer experience and outcomes are measured, shared and tied to individual performance assessment. These organizations recognize and reward internal cross-functional collaboration and knowledge-sharing because they understand how to serve customers better. The employee experience reflects the customer care the organization seeks to create.

Consider Southwest Airlines, a recognized leader in customer experience. It consistently scores in the mid-sixties in public NPS (Net Promoter Score) benchmarks that measure customers’ willingness to recommend a company’s products or services to others, a score that is higher than any airline and one of the leaders in any industry.
Many travelers are familiar with Southwest crew members delivering safety announcements with humor, thereby personalizing that obligatory inflight duty and making it more enjoyable for passengers. And it goes beyond the safety spiel. Employees are routinely asked to submit ideas for improving safety and hospitality and for paring costs.

Southwest gives employees the autonomy to deliver a premium customer experience and to continuously improve it. When the airline decided new uniforms were needed to match its new logo and image, they asked their employees to design them. Thousands volunteered, and 43 employees were chosen to collaborate. They designed a fashionable, yet functional uniform (even machine washable, a rarity) that employees say represents Southwest’s personality.
Forbes named Southwest No. 12 on its list of America’s Best Employers in 2016. CEO Gary Kelly attributed the ranking to “the passion [employees] show every day for offering the best in hospitality to our customers and to each other.”
This is an example of customer service done well, where employees are empowered to be engaged and passionate about the customer experience.
My reservation at the Vineyard Resort was not in the system; something had gone wrong in the back office. That happens. The next day, resort managers apologized many times. Still, in the end, the receptionist likely was not empowered to go above and beyond. He likely did not feel safe to take a risk and give me a room without following protocol. That single incident left an indelible memory – and it wasn’t favorable.

Source:, 10 September 2018
By: Gila Vadnai-Tolub