Kraftig ökning av chefers psykiska ohälsa

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 7th, 2019 by admin
Foto: IBL

De senaste fem åren har chefers ohälsa ökat kraftigt, visar ny sjukstatistik. Även antalet långtidssjukskrivningar har stigit brant. 

Pressen på landets chefer ökar. Allt fler mår dåligt psykiskt. Det visar företagshälsan Previas nya stora statistiksammanställning över sjukfrånvaron hos 12.300 chefer på drygt 400 Previa-anslutna företag över hela landet.

Mellan 2014 och 2018 ökade chefskårens sjukfrånvaro – korttids- och långtidssjukskrivningar sammanlagt – med 50 procent. Och just psykisk ohälsa orsakade 2018 fem gånger fler sjukskrivningar bland chefer än under 2014.

Lennart Sohlberg, analytiker och hälsoekonom hos Previa, konstaterar att chefer över tid har sjukskrivit sig betydligt mindre än övrig personal.

– Men nu håller det på att förändras, genom den här trenden med ökad psykisk ohälsa inom chefsledet.

Pernilla Rönnlund, organisationskonsult hos Previa, understryker att arbetsplatserna över lag måste bli mer hållbara.

– I dag är det högt tempo och hög stressnivå, många möten och ständiga förändringar. Det blir för lite tid över för återhämtning, reflektion och kreativitet.

Många linjechefer gör sitt yttersta för att se och respektera medarbetarnas arbetsmiljöutmaningar, och tar ett stort ansvar för att komma till rätta med deras problem, konstaterar hon.

– Samtidigt sitter de själva med en enorm stress och press på sig. De flesta biter ihop, men lider av en brist på stöd från högre chefer. Allt fler har i dag sina chefer i andra länder, och de företagsledningarna förstår inte alltid hur svenska arbetsledningar förväntas fungera.

Särskilt de yngre cheferna med småbarn hemma riskerar att bli sjuka. De måste jonglera såväl ett stressigt familjeliv som en alltmer gränslös chefsroll med vidhäftande mer eller mindre uttalade krav på arbete och tillgänglighet kvällar och helger, vab och egen sjukdom.  

Många linje- och mellanchefer längtar efter att ledningsgruppen skulle vara mer synlig och tillgänglig för dem:

– Särskilt de yngre vill att deras egna chefer ska vara synliga och coachande, de är vana att bli sedda och vill få diskutera och ifrågasätta.

En sådan nära och förtroendefull dialog mellan chefsleden är en förutsättning för att upprepad korttidsfrånvaro bland cheferna ska kunna fångas upp, innan den riskerar att leda till utbrändhet eller annan sjukdom, och en långtidssjukskrivning. 

De företag som mår bäst och går bäst är som regel de som i tid förmår att fånga upp och stävja för mycket övertid på kvällar och helger. 

Och alla arbetsgivare är – enligt lag – tvungna att säkerställa en sund arbetsbelastning och god arbetsmiljö. Trots det talar företagsledningar nästan uteslutande om affärsstrategier, verksamhetsplaner och resultat, påpekar Pernilla Rönnlund.

Ledningsgruppers kompetens kring hur man kan arbeta proaktivt kring den sociala och organisatoriska arbetsmiljön är fortfarande låg. De bör tänka på att om man inte tar in arbetsmiljön också i ekvationen så kommer det att påverka årsredovisningen sista rad negativt. 

– En trygg, tydlig och enad medlemsgrupp ger trygga mellanchefer. Trygga mellanchefer ger trygga motiverade medarbetare.

Men ser ledningen inte signalerna kör folk in i väggen. Och det kostar i slutänden företaget pengar. 

Previa ser en ökad efterfrågan på analys, stöd och kompetensutveckling inom arbetsmiljö, ledarskap, hälsa och rehabilitering. 

– Och det är viktigt att det finns möjliga ersättare, om chefen behöver ta en time out, säger Pernilla Rönnlund. 

Tips för att motverka psykisk ohälsa bland chefer:

  • Bygg nätverk som ger chefer möjlighet att bolla idéer och söka stöd. 
  • Ta fram fler mentorprogram.
  • Minska personalgruppernas storlek. 
  • Avlasta cheferna administrativa arbetsuppgifter så långt som möjligt.
  • Se till att ha en tydlig ersättare vid chefens frånvaro. 
  • Gör kontinuerlig uppföljning av arbetsmiljön och stressfaktorer på  arbetsplatsen. 
  • Nära och aktivt stöd från HR-ledningen.

Källa: DN.se, 7 februari 2019
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Varför låtsas unga att de älskar sina jobb?

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 31st, 2019 by admin

Jag såg hur några av de skarpaste hjärnorna i min generation arbetade 18-timmarsdagar – och sedan skröt om det på Instagram. När blev prestationsbaserad arbetsnarkomani en livsstil? 

Jag har aldrig börjat min arbetsvecka – varken i kön till morgonkaffet, i en proppfull tunnelbanevagn eller när jag går igenom min inkorg – med att pausa, titta upp i himlen och viska TackGudattdetärmåndag. 

Tydligen gör det mig till en generationsförrädare. Det lärde jag mig under en rad besök på Weworks kontorshotell i New York, där prydnadskuddar berättar för de upptagna hyresgästerna att de ska ”göra vad de älskar”. Neonskyltar begär att de ska ”jobba hårdare” och väggmålningar sprider budskapet om TGIM (Thank God it’s Monday). 

Till och med gurkorna i Weworks vattenkylare har en agenda. ”Sluta inte när du är trött…” karvade någon nyligen in i grönsakerna: ”…sluta när du är klar”. 

Välkommen till ”hustle”-kulturen, som innebär hårt slit för karriären. I den är man besatt av att sträva vidare, outtröttligt positiv och helt humorbefriad. När man upptäckt den, är den omöjlig att fly ifrån. ”Rise and grind” (Upp och jobba) är både temat för en Nike-kampanj och titeln på en bok av en av jurymedlemmarna i tv-programmet ”Shark tank”. Nya mediestartups som ”The hustle”, som ger ut ett populärt företagsnyhetsbrev och anordnar konferenser, och One37pm, en contentbyrå som skapats av en av ”hustle”-kulturens skyddshelgon, Gary Vaynerchuk, glorifierar ambition, inte som ett sätt att nå ett mål – utan som en livsstil. 

”I dag är entreprenörskap mer än karriären”, står det på One37pm:s hemsida: 

”Det är ambition, ’grit’ och hårt arbete. Att se ett liveuppträdande lyfter din kreativitet… att träna sig svettig skickar ut dina endorfiner… att lyssna på en visionär expanderar ditt tankesätt.” 

Ur det perspektivet slutar man aldrig att arbeta hårt – man går aldrig utanför ett slags arbetsförlopp där det främsta syftet med att träna eller gå på konsert är att få inspiration som hjälper till i ens arbete. 

Ryan Harwood, chef för One37pm:s moderföretag, berättar för mig att sajtens innehåll riktas till en yngre generation som vill följa sina drömmar. 

– De vill veta hur de kan äga varje ögonblick, säger han. 

”Att äga varje ögonblick” är ett smart sätt att döpa om ”att överleva ekorrhjulet”. I den nya ”hustle”-kulturen är det inte nog att stå ut med eller bara tycka om sitt jobb. Arbetarna ska älska det de gör, och marknadsföra den kärleken på sociala medier, så att deras identitet smälter samman med arbetsgivarens. Varför skulle LinkedIn annars bygga sin egen version av Snapchat stories? 

Det är glamoröst slit, och det har blivit mainstream. Tydligaste tecknet är att Wework, som investerare nyligen värderade till 47 miljarder dollar, är på väg att bli kontorskulturens Starbucks. De har exporterat sitt varumärke av prestationsbaserad arbetsnarkomani till 27 länder, med 400.000 hyresgäster, inklusive arbetare från 30 procent av världens 500 största företag. I januari offentliggjorde Weworks grundare, Adam Neumann, att hans startup skulle byta namn till ”The we co” för att återspegla att företaget nu expanderar sin verksamhet till även boende och utbildning. För att beskriva förändringen skrev Weworks moderbolag Fast Company:

”I stället för att bara hyra ett skrivbord siktar företaget på att integrera alla aspekter av människors liv, i både fysiska och digitala världar”. Man föreställer sig att idealkunden är någon som är så betagen av estetiken i Wework-kontoret, med gurkbudskap och allt, att hon sover i en ”Welive”-lägenhet, tränar på ett ”Rise by we”-gym och skickar sina barn till en ”Wegrow”-skola. 

Ur det perspektivet känns ”Office space”, lovsången till Generation X:s slackers som kom ut för 20 år sedan, som science fiction från en verklighet långt bort. Det är nästan omöjligt att föreställa sig att dagens arbetsmyra skulle erkänna, som huvudkaraktären Peter Gibbons gör:

”Det är inte att jag är lat. Det är bara att jag inte bryr mig.” Likgiltighet på arbetsplatsen har helt enkelt inte en socialt accepterad hashtagg. 

”Det är bistert och exploaterande”

Det är inte svårt att se arbetskulturen som ett bedrägeri. Att förmå en generation av arbetskraft att arbeta hårt är bekvämt för de som är i toppen. 

Majoriteten av de människor som slår på trumman för arbetsmanin är inte de som faktiskt gör jobbet. Det säger David Heinemeier Hansson, medgrundare till mjukvaruföretag Basecamp.

– Det är chefer, finansiärer och ägare. 

Vi talades vid i oktober, när han marknadsförde sin nya bok ”It doesn’t have to be crazy at work”, om att skapa en hälsosam företagskultur. 

Heinemar Hansson sade att trots att studier visar att långa arbetsdagar inte gynnar varken produktiviteten eller kreativiteten lever myten om överarbete kvar, eftersom den rättfärdigar den extrema rikedom som skapas för den lilla eliten inom techvärlden. 

– Det är bistert och exploaterande, sade han. 

Elon Musk, som kommer att få nära 50 miljarder dollar i aktiekompensation från sitt företag Tesla, håller en viss prestationsnivå. Han är ett perfekt exempel på någon som hyllar att andra arbetar hårt – när det egentligen framför allt gynnar honom. Han twittrade i november att det finns enklare arbetsplatser än Tesla, ”men ingen förändrade världen på 40 timmar i veckan”. Det faktiska antalet timmar ”varierar beroende på person” fortsatte han, men är ”runt 80 timmar i medel, och ibland upp till 100. Smärtgränsen ökar exponentiellt efter 80”. 

Musk, som har över 24 miljoner Twitterföljare, uppmärksammade också att om man älskar det man gör ”känns det (oftast) inte som jobb”. Till och med han behövde mjuka upp lögnen om ”TGIM” med en parentes. 

För de som tillber evigt arbete är det förenat med skuldkänslor att tillbringa tid med något som inte är jobbrelaterat. Jonathan Crawford, en entreprenör baserad i San Francisco, berättar för mig att han offrade sina relationer och lade på sig mer än 20 kilo medan han arbetade för Storenvy, hans e-handelsstartup. Om han socialiserade var det på ett nätverksevenemang. Om han läste var det böcker om företagande. Han gjorde nästan aldrig någonting som inte gav direkt avkastning för hans företag. Crawford bytte livsstil när han insåg att hans liv fick honom att känna sig eländig. Som entreprenör hos investeringsfirman ”500 Startups” säger han nu till sina kolleger att de bör hitta icke-jobbrelaterade aktiviteter, som att läsa skönlitteratur, titta på film eller spela spel.  Detta låter på något sätt som ett radikalt råd. 

– Det är märkligt ögonöppnande för dem, eftersom de inte insett att de ser sig själva som resurser att förbruka, säger Crawford. 

År 2019 är det lätt att bli beroende av tempot och stressen i arbetet. Bernie Klinder, en konsult vid ett stort teknikföretag, säger att han försökt begränsa sig till fem 11-timmarsdagar per vecka, vilket ger en extra dags produktivitet. 

”Om dina kolleger är tävlingsinriktade framstår du som en slacker om du arbetar en ‘normal arbetsvecka’,” skriver han i ett e-mejl. 

Om dina kolleger är tävlingsinriktade framstår du som en slacker om du arbetar en ”normal arbetsvecka”.

Han är ändå realistisk om sin plats i ekorrhjulet. 

– Jag försöker komma ihåg att om jag dör i morgon kommer alla mina arbetsplatsutmärkelser hamna i soporna nästa dag, och mitt jobb kommer att annonseras ut innan min dödsannons. 

Längtan efter måndagsmöten 

Den logiska slutpunkten av överdrivet arbete är utbrändhet. Det var ämnet i en viral essä av BuzzFeeds kulturkritiker Anne Helen Petersen, som på ett tänkvärt sätt adresserade en av orimligheterna i de ungas arbetsmani. Nämligen: Om millenniegenerationen anses vara lat och bortskämd, hur kan den då också vara besatt av att vara bäst på jobbet? 

Millenniegenerationen, menar Petersen, är bara desperat i sin strävan efter att leva upp till sina höga förväntningar. En hel generation studenter har uppfostrats till att tro att bra betyg och överdrivna prestationer vid fritidsaktiviteter kommer att löna sig genom utvecklande jobb som uppfyller deras passioner. 

I stället hamnade de i osäkra, meningslösa arbeten under ett berg av studieskulder. Och därför är det faktum att de framställer sig själva som att de älskar att jobba och längtar efter måndagsmorgnarna, förståeligt om man ser det som en slags försvarsmekanism. 

De flesta arbeten, även de flesta bra arbeten, är fulla av meningslöst slit. De flesta företag sviker oss på något sätt. Och flera år efter att HBO-satiren ”Silicon Valley” gjorde en återkommande poäng av det uttryckslösa mottot ”att göra världen till en bättre plats” uppmuntrar många företag fortfarande hårt arbete med hjälp av högtravande budskap. 

Till exempel säger Spotify, ett företag som låter dig lyssna på musik, att deras mål är att ”låsa upp potentialen i den mänskliga kreativiteten”. Dropbox, som låter dig ladda upp filer och annat, säger att deras mål är att ”frigöra världens kreativa energi genom att designa ett mer upplyst arbetssätt”. David Spencer, professor i ekonomi vid Leeds-universitetets handelshögskola, säger att den typen av skenhelighet från företag, ekonomer och politiker kan härledas till merkantilismen i 1500-talets Europa. 

– Det har varit en pågående kamp från arbetsgivare att  upphöja arbete på sätt som distraherar från de oattraktiva sidorna, säger han. 

Men sådan propaganda kan också ge bakslag. I 1600-talets England sågs arbete som ett botemedel mot diverse laster, men den olönsamma sanningen drev bara arbetarna till att dricka mer. 

Internetföretagen kan ha felkalkylerat när de uppmuntrar anställda att likställa arbetet med deras inneboende värde som människor. Efter att under lång tid haft ett högt anseende har techindustrin upplevt ett hårt och snabbt bakslag i allt från frågan om ett monopolistiskt beteende till att de skulle sprida desinformation och frammana rasistiskt våld. Och anställda har upptäckt hur mycket makt de har. I november deltog 20.000 Google-anställda i en strejk för att protestera mot hur företaget hanterat sexuella trakasserier. Andra Google-anställda drev igenom att ett AI-kontrakt med Pentagon, som skulle göra militära drönare dödligare, bröts. 

Heinemeier Hansson menar att anställdas protester är ett bevis på att millienniegenerationens arbetare i slutändan kommer att göra revolt mot en kultur som premierar överarbete. 

– Människor kommer inte tolerera det här, och de kommer inte att köpa propagandan om att evig lycka innebär att man ser över sina egna toalettpauser, säger han. 

Han refererar till en intervju med Marissa Mayer, tidigare chef för Yahoo, från 2016 där hon sade att det är möjligt att arbeta 130 timmar i veckan ”om man är strategisk kring när man sover, när man duschar och hur ofta man går på toaletten”. 

I slutändan måste arbetarna bestämma om de beundrar eller avfärdar denna nivå av hängivenhet. Mayers kommentarer blev vitt spridda på sociala medier när intervjun publicerades, men sedan dess har användare av internetforumet Quora hängivet delat med sig av sina egna strategier för att härma hennes schema. På samma sätt har Musks twitterinlägg om ”smärtgräns” fått mycket kritik, men också många hyllningar och förfrågningar från människor som vill ha jobb. 

Den bistra verkligheten 2019 är att det inte anses pinsamt att be miljardärer om jobb via Twitter. Det är snarare ett fullt acceptabelt sätt att gå tillväga. Ur ett perspektiv måste man beundra de hårt arbetande som ser ett dystert system och förstår att för att nå framgång behöver man helt skamlöst bli en del av systemet.

Om vi är dömda att streta på tills vi dör kan vi lika gärna låtsas att vi gillar det. Även på måndagar. 

Denna artikel publicerades först i New York Times , en tidning som DN samarbetar med. 

Översättning till svenska: Evelyn Jones 

Källa: DN.se, 31 januari 2019
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Fielding high-performing innovation teams

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 28th, 2019 by admin

Innovation is a team sport. For projects to succeed, they must be staffed with the right combination of talent. Here is how to ensure your initiatives have the players they need to win.

The CEO of a globally recognized bank is frustrated with the lack of innovation performance delivered by her company. She sets up an incubator charged with developing a portfolio of new high-growth businesses. Inside this incubator, she places teams of high performers from the core businesses of the bank in part-time roles. Recipe for success, or a road to nowhere?

CEOs of other companies face similar challenges around innovation. They struggle to identify “intra-preneurs” within their organizations who possess the rare mix of commercial and technical skills to shepherd new products to market. Employees within R&D groups may not have the external orientation to uncover valuable customer insights, while commercial leaders often lack the technical acumen to translate client needs into product attributes. Hiring “innovators” from the outside isn’t always an effective solution as newcomers may struggle to navigate complex, operationally focused organizations.

It can be tempting for executives accountable for the delivery of critically important innovation initiatives to believe that simply assigning an initiative to high-performing talent will yield success. However, when it comes to innovation, it is rare to see individuals who possess the full range of skills needed to lead an initiative.

For starters, innovation initiatives require skills and mind-sets that are under-developed in even the highest performers. The obstacles that arise in optimizing an existing dominant business model, such as boosting same-store sales or making a factory more efficient, are well-understood. History can be a useful guide in mastering performance in these environments. Scaling a new business successfully, on the other hand, often requires the experience to respond to and navigate new contexts where the rules of success are yet to be written. Innovators must craft bold but realistic visions, conceive entirely new value propositions that sync with customer challenges, and manage extreme uncertainty. In essence, the team must operate more like a start-up that can adapt development and commercialization plans based on continuously challenging assumptions and learning what will propel their business to scale.

It’s unlikely that one person will possess all the capabilities such initiatives demand. The likelihood is even lower in large, successful organizations. Instead, our experience shows that a well-constructed team that brings together the needed abilities of a world-class innovator can compensate for the lack of “founders.” To do this, first you must understand what the critical traits are that drive the most successful innovators, and second, you must have a method of assessing your employees against these traits. With this information in hand, companies are able to form high-performing innovation teams.

Ten traits of successful innovators

Over decades of combined experience working with companies pursuing innovation-led growth and start-ups, we have identified ten traits that distinguish the most successful innovators (Exhibit 1). While many of these capabilities are well-recognized, we have seen that reframing the discussion from individuals to teams helps tremendously to unlock performance in most organizations.

The innovation talent wheel illustrates the ten key traits of effective innovation teams.
Exhibit 1

Assessing each team member’s innovation aptitude can help you build a stronger whole. The ten traits can be grouped into four categories. We find that a successful team needs a base level of competence in all four.

Vision

The first group of traits highlights the ability to identify opportunities and inspire others to pursue them. Articulating a compelling vision, and the skill to translate it into a differentiated value proposition that breaks through the noise of the marketplace is a talent in itself. Uncovering is an intrinsic curiosity to see the possibility in a given context and distill the most valuable insights. “Uncoverers” use these insights and pattern recognition to interpret unmet needs and define highly valuable problems to solve. Generating is the ability to develop meaningful value propositions that solve significant customer problems. The most successful “generators” meld the big-picture market context with a thorough understanding of an organization’s strategic position, including its underlying capabilities. Selling is the ability to explain the nuances of what creates the value for a new proposition and carefully tailor it to the target audience. “Sellers” are compelling enough to motivate people to sway internal stakeholders on the value of pursuing a given innovation opportunity and marshaling the required resources to drive commercialization. These people are also gifted in crafting the marketing elements of a new proposition.

Collaboration

People with the second collection of traits foster effective teamwork and change management, bringing cohesion to a group. Those strong at motivating tend to be charismatic leaders adept at spurring action by creating a work environment that tolerates failure as a necessary aspect of the innovation process. Networking is the essential skill in maintaining connections among all the stakeholders in a project. Successful innovators seek input from outside the team and—as importantly—outside the organization, linking with ecosystem partners such as universities, other start-ups, or incubators. Orchestrating, meanwhile, refers to the ability to supply projects with the needed resources and to monitor the team’s activities to ensure these resources are effectively deployed; in other words, that workloads are distributed appropriately and the team can “do more with less.” People with this skill combine attention to detail and the ability to anticipate roadblocks with an ease in developing relationships, talents that make them adept at resolving conflicts.

Learning

Most entrepreneurs exhibit absorbing, a quality manifested in a deep curiosity about anything that could help their venture succeed and a willingness to explore leads as they arise. Such individuals continually pursue new ideas and quickly incorporate lessons from multiple sources.

Execution

The final group of traits enables quick decision-making amidst uncertainty while maintaining a realistic pace of progress. Pioneering skills enable individuals to break down ideas into an achievable sequence of activities. These team members tend to be the first to challenge the status quo, have resilience and perseverance when faced with setbacks, and quickly adapt plans to new input or conditions. Deciding encompasses strong critical-thinking skills that enable people to draw conclusions from imperfect information. “Deciders” blend pattern recognition with a high degree of pragmatism which enables them to synthesize insights, draw implications, and get things done. Tabulating, meanwhile, is the ability to apply financial modeling to size an opportunity and then use scenario planning to de-risk a given project. “Tabulators” use their quantitative orientation to accurately judge risks and payoffs as they plan their initiatives.

While some of these traits are complementary—for example, pioneers are often good decision makers, owing to their ability to forge paths and make judgments amidst uncertainty—almost no individual will possess all ten. Some leaders are great at inspiring others, but poor at timely delivery of results. Others excel at planning but need help with selling the vision. Just as the best entrepreneurs know what qualities they lack and surround themselves with individuals who complement their strengths, so corporate innovation teams must ensure that the group as a whole represents all the key capabilities. A team lacking people with uncovering skills will likely end up focusing on incremental change. A group without networking capabilities may end up tackling a problem outside the company’s core competence without spotting an opportunity to bring in a partner.

Staffing innovation projects right

Turning back to our banking incubator, was the CEO able to assemble the best possible teams to execute her vision? Six months into the projects, one of the innovation teams had built a minimum viable product (MVP), but its members struggled to articulate the offering’s value to users. While the MVP had lots of functionality, each team member voiced a different interpretation of the product’s ultimate purpose and the team lacked a cohesive plan for where to focus development. Amidst this confusion, progress slowed and the team failed to reach project milestones. Initial customers weren’t adopting the new product and the team was unsure how to respond. Meanwhile, the bank continued to spend on digital development to add functionalities in the hopes of improving the strength of the value proposition.

Up-front analysis had defined a substantial profit pool associated with this idea. The promise of strong financials was one of the core reasons the business case was approved. However, the unforeseen roadblocks suggested that even this initial perspective was flawed. But was the idea the problem, or was it perhaps the team’s inability to find the “path to profit” that was the challenge? Carefully constructing the team with the right mix of skills could have dramatically changed the odds of success.

Roadblocked, the company decided to assess the team against the ten traits (Exhibit 2), scoring each team member.

Team composition gaps
Exhibit 2

This survey revealed to the bank that the team composition was relatively strong in its ability to identify the customer problem (uncovering) and would likely be able to execute a robust development plan, judging by its average scores on traits related to execution. However, the overall scores showed the group to be lacking real strength in any of the ten traits, and highlighted substantial gaps in generating and selling. It turned out that this “profile” was mirrored in many of its incubator teams. As a result, project teams repeatedly needed interventions to keep initiatives on track. Once the bank recognized its deficiencies, it launched an external talent search to identify talent to fill in the missing skills, and developed an intensive “entrepreneur academy” to identify internal innovators and build their skills.

To minimize innovation failures, companies should be more strategic in the composition of their teams. One large consumer packaged goods company made the Innovation Talent Wheel assessment an explicit part of its innovation team onboarding process. It has found that innovation ideas often originate from individuals who accel in generating, orchestrating, and deciding. As a result, this company’s innovation governance board now insists on evidence that a project leader has built a well-rounded team before it will fund a project. Moreover, teams are re-evaluated at critical points, such as when a project is about to scale. This helps ensure that the team make-up fits each project phase, and that as members master new skills, they are challenged with greater responsibility. Since instituting this policy, the rate of innovation “false starts” has decreased markedly—from more than 50 percent of projects to fewer than a quarter.

One additional insight from the bank’s experience is that the progress of a project has to be balanced with ensuring the well-being and motivation of your people. When individuals are pushed to work across too many dimensions of the wheel that are not their intrinsic strengths, such “stretch” roles can easily turn into exhaustion that reduces productivity. Innovation high performers should be encouraged to build from core strengths while learning new ones through a combination of being surrounded by team members with complementary strengths and proactive training. Getting this balance right will energize your organization as people work “in the zone” a higher percentage of the time.


Understanding the traits of innovation talent and the need for project teams to have balanced combinations of these traits will help companies get better and faster returns from their innovation investments. What’s more, by identifying and encouraging people who possess these traits, then steering them into supervisory roles, organizations can build a ready cohort of innovation leaders who can drive projects in the future.

Source: McKinsey.com, January 2019
Authors: Matt Banholzer is a partner in McKinsey’s Chicago office, Fabian Metzeler is a consultant in the Düsseldorf office, and Erik Roth is a senior partner in the Stamford office.
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Du är din generation – eller?

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap, Uncategorized on January 22nd, 2019 by admin

90-talisterna är familjekära, 80-talisterna självupptagna karriärister och 40-talisterna är ett gäng surgubbar. Eller? Vad stämmer egentligen om olika generationer, och hur kan de förhålla sig till varandra?

Generation X och Y, 80-talister, millennials eller ”köttberg”. Att vilja kategorisera människor utifrån när de är födda är något som finns med oss sedan långt tillbaka. Och fördomarna är många om de olika generationerna. Men kan man verkligen kategorisera människor utifrån denna parameter? Anders Parment, generationsforskare vid Stockholms universitet, menar att man kan det – i alla fall till en viss del. 

– Det finns en tydlig forskningsmodell som bygger på att generationer formas utifrån den omgivning de växt upp i. Och ens primära värderingar sätts mellan det att man är 16 och 24 år. Därför påverkas man av hur samhället ser ut under den tiden, säger han. 

Stora händelser i samhället, eller samhällsförändringar på längre sikt är saker som påverkar de olika generationerna. Därför kan terrordåden 11 september 2001 vara en markör för den generation som är född på 80-talet. För en äldre generation är i stället mordet på Olof Palme, eller Berlinmurens fall något som satt spår. Många som var just mellan 16 och 24 kan minnas exakta platser de var på när de fick reda på stora händelser. Men det är inte bara plötsliga chocker som påverkar generationen. 

– Det kan också handla om mer utdragna händelser, som kalla kriget, som påverkat en generation. Framtida generationer kan till exempel påverkas av att Donald Trump är president, säger han. 

Anders Parment menar att det absolut finns värderingar och sätt att vara som definierar olika generationer, beroende på under vilken tid de växt upp. Som exempel tar han generationen som var mellan 16 och 24 år gamla när 68-rörelsen var stor. 

– Gudrun Schyman, Leif GW Persson och Jan Guillou är exempel på den generationen. De kan gärna ifrågasätta och vara uppkäftiga, och har påverkats av uppväxten runt 68-rörelsen. Senare generationer som 60-talisterna, där Fredrik Reinfeldt är ett exempel, är mer följsamma, för de gick igenom den åldern under en period på 70-talet när det inte hände så mycket positivt i samhället: Då var det negativa händelser som ekonomisk kris som dominerade, säger han. 

Men exakt hur generationer ska kategoriseras är omdiskuterat. I USA kallas generationen som föddes efter andra världskrigets slut för ”baby boomers”, men det är också den enda fastställda generation som folkräkningsmyndigheten i USA vill definiera. 

”Babyboomen kännetecknas av en dramatisk ökning i födelsetal efter andra världskriget, och den består av en av de största generationerna i amerikansk historia. Till skillnad mot babyboom-generationen är födelseåren och karaktärsdragen hos andra generationer inte lika urskiljbara, och det finns varierande definitioner som används av befolkningen”, förklarar Howard Hogan, chefsdemograf på myndigheten i en artikel i Washington Post. 

Generation X är en term som ibland används för att kategorisera människor som är födda under 60- och 70-talet, medan efterföljande generation Y används för att kategorisera de som är födda mellan 1982, och millennieskiftet. I Sverige talar vi om vilket årtionde människor är födda, och medan 40-talisterna ibland fått epitetet ”köttberget” och beskrivs som bossiga och rebelliska säger man att 60- och 70-talisterna är ”den ironiska generationen”. 

För viljan att kategorisera finns där. Ett exempel på en generation som har mycket fördomar mot sig är 80-talisterna. Enligt Anders Parment har de ansetts vara skrytsamma, självupptagna och en generation som har synpunkter på det mesta. I Tidningen Karriär beskriver författaren Emma Pihl dem som ”vana vid att vara familjens absoluta mittpunkt” och att de på arbetsplatsen har ”lätt att komma i kollisionskurs med äldre generationer”. 

Förra året anklagade Migrationsverket 80-talisterna för att vara dem som låg bakom myndighetens ineffektivitet. Antalet handlagda ärenden hade då minskat starkt sedan 90-talet.  

”Vi har med andra ord anställda som vant sig vid att bli skjutsade hit och dit och att få allt de pekar på,” skrev internrevisorerna i en rapport om de anställda 80-talisterna. 

Anders Parment berättar att han jämfört kursutvärderingar på Handelshögskolan mellan 1995 och 2005 – när 80-talisterna börjat studera. Han upptäckte då att studenterna var nöjdare år 2005 – men ändå hade mycket mer synpunkter på kursens utformning än tio år tidigare. Men han vill ändå stå upp för 80-talisterna. 

– Deras värderingar formades i ett 24/7-samhälle, särskilt i storstäderna där man kunde göra vad man ville när man ville. Facebook kom också under den här perioden i deras liv, och de är mycket mindre återhållsamma med det som en äldre generation skulle kalla för skryt. Den här omställningen var svår för äldre människor att klara av – de tyckte i stället att 80-talisterna var uppkäftiga, säger han. 

Unga i dag tycker att det är en självklarhet att man kan påverka samhället.

Även den senaste generationen att passera 24-årsgränsen där man enligt Anders Parment kan börja se vad som definierar den generationen är 90-talisterna. Anders Parment har nyligen skrivit en bok om denna omdiskuterade generation, och menar att de utmärker sig genom att från 80-talisternas karriärshets ha kommit tillbaka till idén om att arbeta 9-17, och att familjelivet är viktigare än arbetet. 

– De är curlade, inte bara av sina föräldrar – men också av samhället, där kommersialisering och konkurrens har gjort att även företag och till och med skolor viker sig när man har synpunkter. Det är generationen som har föräldrar som ringer till chefer även när de kommit ut i arbetslivet för att fråga varför deras son inte blir uppflyttad till en högre tjänst, säger han. 

Lovisa Sterner är expert inom kompetensförsörjning och livsstil på Ungdomsbarometern, ett analysföretag som varje år gör en enkätundersökning om vad unga människor mellan 15 och 24 år tycker i olika frågor. I 2016 års undersökning intervjuades 15 994 personer. Hon menar att det har hänt mycket sedan den första undersökningen som gjordes 1992. Men förutom skillnaden mellan en tid när bara en fjärdedel hade varit ute på internet, och en tid när över 90 procent har en smartphone har det också hänt saker med andra typer av värderingar. 

– När man 1992 ställde frågan om hur stor möjlighet man känner att man har att påverka samhället i allmänhet tyckte unga inte att den möjligheten var särskilt hög. I dag är förhållandet det motsatta. Unga tycker att det är en självklarhet att man kan påverka samhället, säger Lovisa Sterner. 

Hon menar att detta också påverkar synen på hur ett arbetsliv ska se ut, och synen på den generationen när de kommer ut i arbetslivet. 

– Då tar man med sig känslan av att man kan påverka ut i arbetslivet, och där kanske ens chef är en person som är skolad in i att det är någon annan som bestämt vem som får synas och höras. 

Varje generation tycker att den efter är lat och bortskämd.

Lovisa Sterner menar att den här typen av skillnader kan skapa problem och konflikter mellan olika generationer. 

– Med internet har man nu vanan inne att man kan söka information, det tar man med sig till arbetet, och då kan man bli väldigt provocerad om man inte inkluderas. Man kan inte förhålla sig till att man inte får all information för man är så van vid att veta. Och arbetsgivaren i sin tur är inte med på det, vilket ofta blir en källa till irritation, säger hon. 

När den nya generationen ska beskriva sig själv gör den det med ord som ”ansvarsfull”, ”snäll”, ”ambitiös” och ”omtänksam”. Samtidigt beskriver ofta en äldre generation, som arbetsgivare, dem som ”lata” och ”bortskämda”. 

– Så har det alltid varit. Varje generation tycker att den efter är lat och bortskämd. Men den bilden krockar ganska brutalt med den bild man själv har av sin egen generation. Därför brukar mitt råd till arbetsgivare bli att försöka komma förbi bilden av den ”lata” yngre generationen, och i stället tänka på hur man kan göra så att den presterar så bra som möjligt, säger Lovisa Sterner. 

Samtidigt som hon menar att det finns ganska tydliga skillnader mellan de olika generationerna, där 90-talisterna vurmar mer för familjelivet och ta hand om sig själva än att göra karriären till hela sitt liv, ser hon också faror med att bunta ihop personer bara utifrån när de är födda, 

– Det är inte alltid en relevant jämförelse och vi har helt slutat prata om generationer som ”x”, ”y” och ”z”. Och det är farligt att kategorisera på åldersbasis, eftersom unga i dag är varandra alltmer olika.  Därför finns det jättemånga fallgropar när man pratar om generationer, säger hon. 

Anders Parment håller med om att det finns problem med att definiera personer utefter när de är födda, eftersom så mycket annat spelar in i hur en person blir, än vilken tid den är uppväxt. Ändå tycker han att generationsstudier är viktiga, som en av många pusselbitar. 

Hur generationerna är hänger tätt ihop med samhällsutvecklingen.

– Precis som man tittar på genus och integration tycker jag att man ska titta på generationer. Det finns så mycket föreställningar och bilder av de olika generationerna som gör att framför allt äldre människor avfärdar dem. Ett exempel är 80-talisterna som upplevs som framfusiga, men som till exempel arbetsgivare kan man då missa att ta möjligheten att göra arbetslivet så bra som möjligt för den här gruppen, och därmed få dem att trivas och leverera, säger Anders Parment. 

För att skapa en tillvaro där olika generationer kan mötas och fungera tillsammans tycker han det är viktigt att läsa på om skillnaderna, och varför olika generationer fungerar som de gör. 

– Hur generationerna är hänger tätt ihop med samhällsutvecklingen. Därför är informationen om generationer viktig eftersom människor formas mycket av sin uppväxt. Ju mer man förstår en dimension av människan desto mer förstår man helheten, så intresserar man sig för generationer så bryr man sig också om andra samhällsfenomen, säger Anders Parment.

Källa: DN.se, 18 januari 2019
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Kommunikativt ledarskap som driver förändring

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap, Uncategorized on January 17th, 2019 by admin

Den digitala transformationen handlar om så mycket mer än ny hårdvara och moderna it-system, det är en genomgripande förändring som ställer krav på en mycket god kommunikationsförmåga hos dagens ledare. Så här gör du för att lyckas.

Författaren och rådgivaren Karin Zingmark har över tjugo års erfarenhet av att driva förändring inom området kommunikation, från bland andra Microsoft, Viasat och MTG. I sin bok ”Maxa snacket” går hon igenom vad som krävs av en modern kommunikativ ledare i den digitala transformationen. Här har vi tillsammans med Karin Zingmark sammanställt det mest väsentliga.

Nya förutsättningar
I en värld präglad av digitalisering som leder till globalisering, ett högt tempo med krav på transparens, ny konkurrens från oväntat håll samt ett komplext medielandskap går det inte att fortsätta att göra som man alltid har gjort.

Istället för att som tidigare fatta beslut i stängda rum – för att därefter delegera kommunikationen kring beslutet till en kommunikationsavdelning – måste ledare i dag inse att kommunikation är affärskritiskt.

Och för att förstå och agera i takt med en snabbt föränderlig omvärld måste kommunikationen lyftas in i beslutsforumet för att i en ständigt pågående dialog med kunder, medarbetare och omvärld driva förändring.

Med tillit som grund
Digitalisering innebär i många fall stor osäkerhet kombinerat med ett högt tempo. Rollen som ledare förändras från att vara den som har svar på alla frågor och som pekar med hela handen till att vara den som underlättar och främjar förändring.

Forskning1 visar att medarbetare i organisationer som präglas av tillit känner mer energi och engagemang för jobbet åstadkommer högre produktivitet, samtidigt som sjukfrånvaron och utbrändheten minskar drastiskt. Att skapa en tillitsfull organisation är med andra ord grundläggande för att kunna leda förändring.

Några tips för att skapa en hög nivå av tillit:
• Ge positiv feedback
• Ge utmanande mål
• Undvik att detaljstyra
• Öppna upp och visa sårbarhet inför organisationen.

Ett gemensamt ”varför” och värderingar som genomlevs
När ni börjar bygga en kommunikativ organisation handlar det först och främst om att gemensamt ta fram organisationens uppdrag och riktning, något som svarar på frågorna ”Varför finns vi till?” och ”Vart är vi på väg?”.

Detta behöver göras tillsammans med medarbetarna för att förankras och skapa engagemang. Oavsett nivå i bolaget bör detta göras, så att alla medarbetare förstår och känner passion för sitt uppdrag som en del av helheten.

På samma sätt måste värderingarna arbetas igenom, så att de verkligen betyder något. Ett gäng fina ord som hänger på väggen men som inte reflekteras i det dagliga arbetet är fullständigt värdelöst. Istället behöver ni jobba fram ett fåtal kärnvärden som kontinuerligt konkretiseras genom att exemplifiera med hjälp av faktiska beslut och hur ni agerar.

Utbilda kommunikativa ledare och medarbetare
Tiden då kommunikation delegerades till en central enhet är sen länge förbi. Nu gäller det att utnyttja kraften hos alla medarbetare att bygga relation med vår omvärld och driva förändring genom dialog.

Men det är först när det finns en tillitsfull organisation som drivs värderingsstyrt med gemensamt ”varför” som ni är redo att vrida på kranarna och utbilda våra kommunikativa ledare och medarbetare.

Ett tips är att utbilda medarbetare i hur olika sociala medier funkar. Levandegör er sociala mediepolicy så att alla vet vad som gäller. Hjälp medarbetare att dela företagsinfo i sina egna kanaler genom att samla alla företagskonton på ett ställe på exempelvis intranätet. Använd en gemensam hashtag och kom ihåg att göra era kommunikativa stjärnor på företaget till hjältar!

Konkreta tips
Att arbeta papperslöst är en kommunikationsförbättrare som har hängt med länge vid det här laget. Men nu finns det bättre verktyg än någonsin för att se till att företaget blir papperslöst, och därmed effektivare genom att inte vara låst vid en fysisk plats. För medarbetarna blir det också lättare att samarbeta när de slipper släpa runt på tunga pärmar och många frågor kan lösas snabbt.

Se till att det finns rutiner som gör det lätt för medarbetarna att verkligen använda de verktyg som företaget har investerat i. Med en molnlösning finns det till exempel ingen anledning till att sitta och mejla dokument till varandra.

Etablera också (om ni inte redan har gjort det) en möteskultur med bokningar via Skype, Google Hangout eller liknande. Ge möjligheten i alla mötesbokningar, det ska vara lika naturligt och lätt att delta på distans som rent fysiskt.

Källa: Telia.se, 21 maj 2018
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Så blir du med effektiv! (undvik t.ex. svåra saker på eftermiddagen)

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 10th, 2019 by admin

Börja inte dagen med att svara på e-post, slå vakt om den tid på dygnet då du är mest analytisk och undvik svåra saker på eftermiddagen. Daniel Pinks nya bok ”När” är en guide för den som inte är nöjd med att bara göra rätt saker på dagen, utan också vid rätt tid.

Hans röst låter lite tvekande i telefonen.
– Det här kanske är lite för mycket information för dina svenska läsare, men jag ska göra en koloskopi om några veckor, och självklart såg jag till att boka en tid klockan nio på förmiddagen.

Den som delar med sig av detta heter Daniel Pink och anledningen till att han är så entusiastisk över tiden för den synnerligen privata undersökningen är att han ägnat de senaste två åren till att läsa allt om vid vilka tider människan fungerar bäst. En av de saker han har tagit till sig är att läkare i större utsträckning gör misstag under eftermiddagen.

När en sådan som Daniel Pink säger att han läst nästan allt, då är det mycket. Han är uppväxt i Washington, pluggade på ansedda Georgetown och har arbetat som talskrivare för vicepresidenten och senare presidentkandidaten Al Gore. (Och jodå, han gick bara en klass under nyutnämnda medlemmen i USA:s högsta domstol Brett Kavanaugh.)

Allt är sammanställt i boken ”När – vetenskapen om perfekt tajming” som kommer ut på svenska i början av november. Han vill att vi ska betrakta hans budskap inte som självhjälp utan som närhjälp.

För att man ska prioritera sin tid på bästa sätt gäller det inte längre att bara fundera ut vad man ska göra utan också när man borde göra det.

Och då pratar vi inte om almanackans när, utan dygnets när. Han har sammanfattat det mesta vetenskapen har att säga om när på dygnet du är mest effektiv, när du är som sämst och hur du bör justera ditt liv efter det. Han erkänner villigt att forskning saknas kring orsakerna till detta, men effekterna är däremot ytterst mätbara.

Han talar långsamt och eftertänksamt och han blir omedelbart vänligt inställd till DN:s reporter. För att vara helt säker på att intervjun med Pink ska bli optimal har DN:s reporter nämligen följt råden från hans bok. Intervjun sker på morgonen amerikansk tid (så intervjupersonen är analytisk), intervjuaren befinner sig på eftermiddagen svensk tid (så intervjuaren är öppen för nya idéer).

– Det är ideala förhållanden, säger Daniel Pink och övergår till sina råd.

1. Var lika noggrann med när du ska göra något som vad du ska göra.
– Det är mitt viktigaste råd till den som vill hantera sin tid bättre, säger Daniel Pink.

Inte nog med att de flesta är vassare på förmiddagen, dessutom är vi mer positiva. Det här vet vi eftersom forskarna Michael Macy och Scott Goulder har analyserat 500 miljoner tweets av 2.4 miljoner användare i 84 länder. Mönstret var likadant, oavsett var man bodde eller vilken kultur man levde i. Vi är mer positiva på morgonen, mindre positiva på eftermiddagen, men blev på allt bättre humör allt eftersom det blev kväll. En tidig topp, en dal och sedan en återgång. Helgerna visar ett lite annat mönster, där är allt förskjutet med ungefär två timmar, vilket forskarna tror beror på att människor går upp senare på helgerna.

Tweetsen kategoriserades utifrån vilken sorts ton det var i dem och det var avgjort så att de flesta av oss är mer negativa, mer retliga och – framför allt – mer stridslystna på eftermiddagen.

Daniel Pinks andra råd till oss som inte vill vara retliga i fel ögonblick och, kanske ännu viktigare, kreativa och konstruktiva i rätt ögonblick, låter enkelt, men är lite svårare att göra.

2. Hitta tiden när du fungerar som bäst och håll den helig.
Först behöver du alltså ta reda på när du fungerar som bäst och det gör du exempelvis genom att föra ett slags dagbok under en vecka. Säg åt din mobiltelefon att påminna dig varje timme och vid varje timme skriver du ner hur du mår och hur du känner dig. Efter en vecka borde du veta när du fungerar som bäst.

– Jag har min ”peak time”, min bästa tid, från klockan 8.30 på morgonen, säger Daniel Pink.

Strategin är då att se till att chefen inte drar in dig i ett meningslöst möte. Undvik att bli distraherad. Men din största fiende i detta är inte chefen eller arbetskamraterna, det är du själv. Det är nämligen lätt att använda sin mest kreativa tid till att göra saker som inte kräver din bästa tankeförmåga. Förutom att slösurfa på sociala medier finns en professionell fiende till din bästa tid: e-posten.

– Det är lätt att hamna i att man börjar besvara e-post under den tiden, för att det ger en känsla av att man åstadkommer något, när man betar av e-posten, säger Daniel Pink.

I själva verket är mycket av e-posten administrativa uppgifter som kan göras även när man är tröttare och på sämre humör. Ska du verkligen använda din mest konstruktiva tid för att hitta rätt tid för ett möte, eller svara på en enkät?

Administrativa uppgifter är bättre att göra under den dal, eller dip, som för de flesta av oss inträffar någon gång på eftermiddagen.

Men de flesta av oss har inte en sådan makt över vår egen tid. Analytiska saker kan behöva göras på eftermiddagen. Daniel Pink har system för det också.

– Jag bokar in pauser på eftermiddagen, säger han.

Under den tid som vi fungerar bäst kan vi vara koncentrerade i kanske en timme eller mer i sträck. (Det är förstås individuellt). Men på eftermiddagen har Pink löst det genom att ta tätare pauser. Nu jobbar han sällan mer än tjugofem minuter i taget innan han tar en paus, just för att kunna få eftermiddagen att fungera bättre.

Men vår minskande analytiska förmåga under eftermiddagen har en oväntad effekt på vår förmåga att lösa problem. Och det kallas för ”inspirationsparadoxen”. På morgnarna är de flesta av oss bättre på att hålla borta störande moment, på att koncentrera oss. Och det är bra för analytiskt arbete. Men när det gäller insikt – då är det andra regler som gäller. För somliga kommer insikten i duschen, för andra under löpturen, men gemensamt är att vi slappnar av, den där delen av oss som håller kontroll har slappnat av och – voilà – nya oväntade tankar kan slinka in. Inspirationsparadoxen är att innovation och kreativitet är som störst när vi inte är som bäst, eller i alla fall mest analytiska.

Förutom dessa råd har han stött på något annat i sin analys av hur vi förhåller oss till tiden och det spänner över ett betydligt större område: hela livet.

– Medelålderskrisen är en myt, säger Daniel Pink.

Han har hittat den vetenskapliga artikel som en gång gav upphov till uttrycket och säger att den är svag och att den knappast skulle kunna publiceras i dag. Det finns heller ingen vetenskaplig bevisning för att medelålderskrisen skulle existera. Kurvan på hur vi människor upplever våra liv går visserligen nedåt en aning i medelåldern, men det är en marginell minskning, säger han. Det finns inga belägg för att vi skulle krisa.

– Vi människor går igenom kriser hela tiden, men inte någon specifik kris i medelåldern.

Så om du nu följt råden om hur du ska lägga upp din dag, ägnat morgonen åt de svåraste sakerna och eftermiddagen åt de administrativa, då har du bara ett moment kvar: att gå hem.

3. Ta en minut innan du går hem från jobbet och sammanfatta vad du har åstadkommit.
Och naturligtvis har Daniel Pink letat upp hur man ska avsluta dagen på bästa sätt.

– Slutet är inte bara något som ska hända, utan ska tas på allvar. Ta någon minut, eller två, och skriv ner vad du har åstadkommit i dag, säger han.

En vanlig arbetsdag gör vi många olika saker och för många flyter allting ihop. Och då kan det vara svårt att känna att man åstadkommit något.

– Det enskilt bästa sättet att hålla den dagliga motivationen uppe på jobbet är, enligt en bra forskningsstudie, känslan av att ha gjort framsteg.

En annan sak som har visat sig effektivt är tacksamhet. Och det kan man åstadkomma genom att till exempel skicka tack-mejl det sista man gör till någon som har hjälpt en under dagen.

– Vad man vill åstadkomma är att sluta dagen med en positiv känsla.

Han tycker du ska ha en personlig ritual, varje dag vid arbetets slut, då du samlar tankarna, och påminner dig själv om allt du har fått uträttat under dagen.

Och om du har följt hans råd är det antagligen mer än det var förut.

Källa: DN.se, 27 november2018
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Making work meaningful: A leader’s guide

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on December 18th, 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.”)

Making work meaningful: A leader’s guide
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.3
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. 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.5 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. 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. 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: McKinsey.com, October 2018
About the authors: Dan 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).
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Stressignalerna du ska se upp med

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Leadership / Ledarskap on December 17th, 2018 by admin

Börjar du sova dåligt, får huvudvärk eller koncentrationsproblem så ska du se upp. Då ligger du i riskzonen för att drabbas av utmattning, varnar experten.
En av fem manliga ekonomer har under det senast året drabbats av arbetsrelaterade besvär. Bland kvinnorna är siffran högre, 29 procent av kvinnorna drabbade under det senaste året. Generellt upplever fler kvinnor än män besvär till följd av arbetet. Den vanligaste formen beskrivs som trötthet.

Läs också: Ökat ansvar för cheferna – anmälningarna om stress ökar
– De allra flesta blir nog trötta av att jobba. Så i sig är trötthet inte alarmerade. Det är när det leder vidare till att man blir utmattad som det blir ett problem, säger psykolog och psykoterapeut Åsa Kruse.

Hon jobbar på Feelgood Företagshälsa och har skrivit boken ”Tillbaka till jobbet”.

För personer som drabbats av utmattningssyndrom kan det ta långt tid innan man orkar ta sig tillbaka till arbetet. Åsa Kruse nämner några varningssignaler som man bör se upp med för att inte drabbas.

– Var uppmärksam på om man märker att något är förändrat. Om man börjar sova sämre, får huvudvärk varje dag, får svårt att återhämta sig eller får koncentrationsproblem som man inte haft tidigare. Om man märker att man inte tål saker på samma sätt, varnar Åsa Kruse.

En ny rapport från Arbetsmiljöverket visar att nästan två tredjedelar av de som svarat på Arbetsmiljöverkets undersökning och som led av arbetsorsakade besvär upplevde en fysisk smärta eller värk.

– Jag tycker resultaten är oroväckande, säger Ulrika Wallén, utredare på fackförbundet Civilekonomerna.

Arbetsmiljöverkets rapport visar att personer i åldrarna 30-49 år har mer besvär av oro/ångest, depression, minnes- och koncentrationsproblem, huvudvärk och sömnstörningar än sina äldre och yngre kollegor. I den här åldern gör många karriär – och bildar samtidigt familj.
– Det är viktigt att hitta utrymme och balans mellan yrkesarbete, hemarbete och fritid. Det är också viktigt med återhämtning, säger Ulrika Wallén.

Inom finans- och försäkringssektorn, samt bland ekonomer är det främst kvinnor som drabbas av arbetsrelaterade besvär. I yrkesgruppen där ekonomer ingår var 29 procent av kvinnorna drabbade under det senaste året mot 18 procent av männen. Inom finans- och försäkringssektorn var skillnaden 22 procent av kvinnorna jämfört med 13 procent av männen.
– Jämställdhet börjar redan på hemmaplan och det tycks som att den inte har fått fullt genomslag här, kommenterar Ulrika Wallén.

I en undersökning som Civilekonomerna gjort tillsammans med forskare vid Högskolan Kristianstad och Linköpings universitet går det att dra slutsatsen att civilekonomer generellt trivs med sitt jobb och sin livssituation, men att den psykiska ohälsan vacklar.

Resultaten är inte oväntade. Psykisk ohälsa är numera ett folkhälsoproblem i Sverige. Enligt Försäkringskassan tillhör psykiska sjukdomar den vanligaste sjukskrivningsorsaken i landet.

Hur kan man förhindra att fler drabbas?
– Vi inom Civilekonomerna anser att ledarskapet är avgörande för såväl den fysiska som psykiska arbetsmiljön, säger Ulrika Wallén och förklarar:

– Man måste leda och styra individer, och olika individer behöver olika typer av ledarskap. Det gäller också att, som medarbetare, kunna leda sig själv och sätta gränser.

Åsa Kruses bok ”Tilllbaka till jobbet” ger råd och tips om hur man kan göra för att lyckas komma tillbaka till jobbet efter utmattningssyndrom.

Går det att bli frisk igen?
– Får man stöd och hjälp kan man komma tillbaka. Men det räcker inte att vila upp sig och sedan gå tillbaka till samma situation, säger Åsa Kruse.

Det är viktigt att arbetsgivaren ger aktivt stöd och engagemang under hela rehabiliteringen, enligt Åsa Kruse. Samtidigt kan den drabbade behöva göra egna förändringar, som att lära sig att minska kraven.
– Man behöver ofta erbjudas behandling av någon form, till exempel hos psykolog via företagshälsovården eller primärvården.

Arbetsmiljöverket rapport ”Arbetsorsakade besvär 2018” bygger på intervjuer med 12 000 sysselsatta personer.

Källa:Civilekonomen.se, 12 december 2018
Av: Matilda Nilsson
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A survival guide for leaders

Posted in Leadership / Ledarskap on December 10th, 2018 by admin

Think of the many top executives in recent years who, sometimes after long periods of considerable success, have crashed and burned. Or think of individuals you have known in less prominent positions, perhaps people spearheading significant change initiatives in their organizations, who have suddenly found themselves out of a job. Think about yourself: In exercising leadership, have you ever been removed or pushed aside?

Let’s face it, to lead is to live dangerously. While leadership is often depicted as an exciting and glamorous endeavor, one in which you inspire others to follow you through good times and bad, such a portrayal ignores leadership’s dark side: the inevitable attempts to take you out of the game.

Those attempts are sometimes justified. People in top positions must often pay the price for a flawed strategy or a series of bad decisions. But frequently, something more is at work. We’re not talking here about conventional office politics; we’re talking about the high-stake risks you face whenever you try to lead an organization through difficult but necessary change. The risks during such times are especially high because change that truly transforms an organization, be it a multibillion-dollar company or a ten-person sales team, demands that people give up things they hold dear: daily habits, loyalties, ways of thinking. In return for these sacrifices, they may be offered nothing more than the possibility of a better future.

We refer to this kind of wrenching organizational transformation as “adaptive change,” something very different from the “technical change” that occupies people in positions of authority on a regular basis. Technical problems, while often challenging, can be solved applying existing know-how and the organization’s current problem-solving processes. Adaptive problems resist these kinds of solutions because they require individuals throughout the organization to alter their ways; as the people themselves are the problem, the solution lies with them. (See the sidebar “Adaptive Versus Technical Change: Whose Problem Is It?”) Responding to an adaptive challenge with a technical fix may have some short-term appeal. But to make real progress, sooner or later those who lead must ask themselves and the people in the organization to face a set of deeper issues—and to accept a solution that may require turning part or all of the organization upside down.

Adaptive Versus Technical Change: Whose Problem Is It?

It is at this point that danger lurks. And most people who lead in such a situation—swept up in the action, championing a cause they believe in—are caught unawares. Over and over again, we have seen courageous souls blissfully ignorant of an approaching threat until it was too late to respond.

Executives leading difficult change initiatives are often blissfully ignorant of an approaching threat until it is too late to respond.

The hazard can take numerous forms. You may be attacked directly in an attempt to shift the debate to your character and style and avoid discussion of your initiative. You may be marginalized, forced into the position of becoming so identified with one issue that your broad authority is undermined. You may be seduced by your supporters and, fearful of losing their approval and affection, fail to demand they make the sacrifices needed for the initiative to succeed. You may be diverted from your goal by people overwhelming you with the day-to-day details of carrying it out, keeping you busy and preoccupied.

Each one of these thwarting tactics—whether done consciously or not—grows out of people’s aversion to the organizational disequilibrium created by your initiative. By attempting to undercut you, people strive to restore order, maintain what is familiar to them, and protect themselves from the pains of adaptive change. They want to be comfortable again, and you’re in the way.

So how do you protect yourself? Over a combined 50 years of teaching and consulting, we have asked ourselves that question time and again—usually while watching top-notch and well-intentioned folks get taken out of the game. On occasion, the question has become painfully personal; we as individuals have been knocked off course or out of the action more than once in our own leadership efforts. So we are offering what we hope are some pragmatic answers that grow out of these observations and experiences. We should note that while our advice clearly applies to senior executives, it also applies to people trying to lead change initiatives from positions of little or no formal organizational authority.
This “survival guide” has two main parts. The first looks outward, offering tactical advice about relating to your organization and the people in it. It is designed to protect you from those trying to push you aside before you complete your initiative. The second looks inward, focusing on your own human needs and vulnerabilities. It is designed to keep you from bringing yourself down.

A Hostile Environment
Leading major organizational change often involves radically reconfiguring a complex network of people, tasks, and institutions that have achieved a kind of modus vivendi, no matter how dysfunctional it appears to you. When the status quo is upset, people feel a sense of profound loss and dashed expectations. They may go through a period of feeling incompetent or disloyal. It’s no wonder they resist the change or try to eliminate its visible agent. We offer here a number of techniques—relatively straightforward in concept but difficult to execute—for minimizing these external threats.

Operate in and above the fray.
The ability to maintain perspective in the midst of action is critical to lowering resistance. Any military officer knows the importance of maintaining the capacity for reflection, especially in the “fog of war.” Great athletes must simultaneously play the game and observe it as a whole. We call this skill “getting off the dance floor and going to the balcony,” an image that captures the mental activity of stepping back from the action and asking, “What’s really going on here?”

Leadership is an improvisational art. You may be guided by an overarching vision, clear values, and a strategic plan, but what you actually do from moment to moment cannot be scripted. You must respond as events unfold. To use our metaphor, you have to move back and forth from the balcony to the dance floor, over and over again throughout the days, weeks, months, and years. While today’s plan may make sense now, tomorrow you’ll discover the unanticipated effects of today’s actions and have to adjust accordingly. Sustaining good leadership, then, requires first and foremost the capacity to see what is happening to you and your initiative as it is happening and to understand how today’s turns in the road will affect tomorrow’s plans.

But taking a balcony perspective is extremely tough to do when you’re fiercely engaged down below, being pushed and pulled by the events and people around you—and doing some pushing and pulling of your own. Even if you are able to break away, the practice of stepping back and seeing the big picture is complicated by several factors. For example, when you get some distance, you still must accurately interpret what you see and hear. This is easier said than done. In an attempt to avoid difficult change, people will naturally, even unconsciously, defend their habits and ways of thinking. As you seek input from a broad range of people, you’ll constantly need to be aware of these hidden agendas. You’ll also need to observe your own actions; seeing yourself objectively as you look down from the balcony is perhaps the hardest task of all.

Fortunately, you can learn to be both an observer and a participant at the same time. When you are sitting in a meeting, practice by watching what is happening while it is happening—even as you are part of what is happening. Observe the relationships and see how people’s attention to one another can vary: supporting, thwarting, or listening. Watch people’s body language. When you make a point, resist the instinct to stay perched on the edge of your seat, ready to defend what you said. A technique as simple as pushing your chair a few inches away from the table after you speak may provide the literal as well as metaphorical distance you need to become an observer.

Court the uncommitted.
It’s tempting to go it alone when leading a change initiative. There’s no one to dilute your ideas or share the glory, and it’s often just plain exciting. It’s also foolish. You need to recruit partners, people who can help protect you from attacks and who can point out potentially fatal flaws in your strategy or initiative. Moreover, you are far less vulnerable when you are out on the point with a bunch of folks rather than alone. You also need to keep the opposition close. Knowing what your opponents are thinking can help you challenge them more effectively and thwart their attempts to upset your agenda—or allow you to borrow ideas that will improve your initiative. Have coffee once a week with the person most dedicated to seeing you fail.

But while relationships with allies and opponents are essential, the people who will determine your success are often those in the middle, the uncommitted who nonetheless are wary of your plans. They have no substantive stake in your initiative, but they do have a stake in the comfort, stability, and security of the status quo. They’ve seen change agents come and go, and they know that your initiative will disrupt their lives and make their futures uncertain. You want to be sure that this general uneasiness doesn’t evolve into a move to push you aside.
These people will need to see that your intentions are serious—for example, that you are willing to let go of those who can’t make the changes your initiative requires. But people must also see that you understand the loss you are asking them to accept. You need to name the loss, be it a change in time-honored work routines or an overhaul of the company’s core values, and explicitly acknowledge the resulting pain. You might do this through a series of simple statements, but it often requires something more tangible and public—recall Franklin Roosevelt’s radio “fireside chats” during the Great Depression—to convince people that you truly understand.

Beyond a willingness to accept casualties and acknowledge people’s losses, two very personal types of action can defuse potential resistance to you and your initiatives. The first is practicing what you preach. In 1972, Gene Patterson took over as editor of the St. Petersburg Times. His mandate was to take the respected regional newspaper to a higher level, enhancing its reputation for fine writing while becoming a fearless and hard-hitting news source. This would require major changes not only in the way the community viewed the newspaper but also in the way Times reporters thought about themselves and their roles. Because prominent organizations and individuals would no longer be spared warranted criticism, reporters would sometimes be angrily rebuked by the subjects of articles.

Several years after Patterson arrived, he attended a party at the home of the paper’s foreign editor. Driving home, he pulled up to a red light and scraped the car next to him. The police officer called to the scene charged Patterson with driving under the influence. Patterson phoned Bob Haiman, a veteran Times newsman who had just been appointed executive editor, and insisted that a story on his arrest be run. As Haiman recalls, he tried to talk Patterson out of it, a rguing that DUI arrests that didn’t involve injuries were rarely reported, even when prominent figures were involved. Patterson was adamant, however, and insisted that the story appear on page one.

Patterson, still viewed as somewhat of an outsider at the paper, knew that if he wanted his employees to follow the highest journalistic standards, he would have to display those standards, even when it hurt. Few leaders are called upon to disgrace themselves on the front page of a newspaper. But adopting the behavior you expect from others—whether it be taking a pay cut in tough times or spending a day working next to employees on a reconfigured production line—can be crucial in getting buy-in from people who might try to undermine your initiative.

The second thing you can do to neutralize potential opposition is to acknowledge your own responsibility for whatever problems the organization currently faces. If you have been with the company for some time, whether in a position of senior authority or not, you’ve likely contributed in some way to the current mess. Even if you are new, you need to identify areas of your own behavior that could stifle the change you hope to make.

To neutralize potential opposition, you should acknowledge your own responsibility for whatever problems the organization currently faces.

In our teaching, training, and consulting, we often ask people to write or talk about a leadership challenge they currently face. Over the years, w e have read and heard literally thousands of such challenges. Typically, in the first version of the story, the author is nowhere to be found. The underlying message: “If only other people would shape up, I could make progress here.” But by too readily pointing your finger at others, you risk making yourself a target. Remember, you are asking people to move to a place where they are frightened to go. If at the same time you’re blaming them for having to go there, they will undoubtedly turn against you.

In the early 1990s, Leslie Wexner, founder and CEO of the Limited, realized the need for major changes at the company, including a significant reduction in the workforce. But his consultant told him that something else had to change: long-standing habits that were at the heart of his self-image. In particular, he had to stop treating the company as if it were his family. The indulgent father had to become the chief personnel officer, putting the right people in the right jobs and holding them accountable for their work. “I was an athlete trained to be a baseball player,” Wexner recalled during a recent speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School. “And one day, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Football.’ And I said, ‘No, I’m a baseball player. ‘And he said, ‘Football.’ And I said, ‘I don’t know how to play football. I’m not 6’4”, and I don’t weigh 300 pounds.’ But if no one values baseball anymore, the baseball player will be out of business. So I looked into the mirror and said, ‘Schlemiel, nobody wants to watch baseball. Make the transformation to football.’” His personal makeover—shedding the role of forgiving father to those widely viewed as not holding their own—helped sway other employees to back a corporate make-over. And his willingness to change helped protect him from attack during the company’s long—and generally successful—turnaround period.

Cook the conflict.
Managing conflict is one of the greatest challenges a leader of organizational change faces. The conflict may involve resistance to change, or it may involve clashing viewpoints about how the change should be carried out. Often, it will be latent rather than palpable. That’s because most organizations are allergic to conflict, seeing it primarily as a source of danger, which it certainly can be. But conflict is a necessary part of the change process and, if handled properly, can serve as the engine of progress.
Thus, a key imperative for a leader trying to achieve significant change is to manage people’s passionate differences in a way that diminishes their destructive potential and constructively harnesses their energy. Two techniques can help you achieve this. First, create a secure place where the conflicts can freely bubble up. Second, control the temperature to ensure that the conflict doesn’t boil over—and burn you in the process.

The vessel in which a conflict is simmered—in which clashing points of view mix, lose some of their sharpness, and ideally blend into consensus—will look and feel quite different in different contexts. It may be a protected physical space, perhaps an off-site location where an outside facilitator helps a group work through its differences. It may be a clear set of rules and processes that give minority voices confidence that they will be heard without having to disrupt the proceedings to gain attention. It may be the shared language and history of an organization that binds people together through trying times. Whatever its form, it is a place or a means to contain the roiling forces unleashed by the threat of major change.

But a vessel can withstand only so much strain before it blows. A huge challenge you face as a leader is keeping your employees’ stress at a productive level. The success of the change effort—as well as your own authority and even survival—requires you to monitor your organization’s tolerance for heat and then regulate the temperature accordingly.

You first need to raise the heat enough that people sit up, pay attention, and deal with the real threats and challenges facing them. After all, without some distress, there’s no incentive to change. You can constructively raise the temperature by focusing people’s attention on the hard issues, by forcing them to take responsibility for tackling and solving those issues, and by bringing conflicts occurring behind closed doors out into the open.

But you have to lower the temperature when necessary to reduce what can be counterproductive turmoil. You can turn down the heat by slowing the pace of change or by tackling some relatively straightforward technical aspect of the problem, thereby reducing people’s anxiety levels and allowing them to get warmed up for bigger challenges. You can provide structure to the problem-solving process, creating work groups with specific assignments, setting time parameters, establishing rules for decision making, and outlining reporting relationships. You can use humor or find an excuse for a break or a party to temporarily ease tensions. You can speak to people’s fears and, more critically, to their hopes for a more promising future. By showing people how the future might look, you come to embody hope rather than fear, and you reduce the likelihood of becoming a lightning rod for the conflict.

The aim of both these tactics is to keep the heat high enough to motivate people but low enough to prevent a disastrous explosion—what we call a “productive range of distress.” Remember, though, that most employees will reflexively want you to turn down the heat; their complaints may in fact indicate that the environment is just right for hard work to get done.

We’ve already mentioned a classic example of managing the distress of fundamental change: Franklin Roosevelt during the first few years of his presidency. When he took office in 1933, the chaos, tension, and anxiety brought on by the Depression ran extremely high. Demagogues stoked class, ethnic, and racial conflict that threatened to tear the nation apart. Individuals feared an uncertain future. So Roosevelt first did what he could to reduce the sense of disorder to a tolerable level. He took decisive and authoritative action—he pushed an extraordinary number of bills through Congress during his fabled first 100 days—and thereby gave Americans a sense of direction and safety, reassuring them that they were in capable hands. In his fireside chats, he spoke to people’s anxiety and anger and laid out a positive vision for the future that made the stress of the current crisis bearable and seem a worthwhile price to pay for progress.

But he knew the problems facing the nation couldn’t be solved from the White House. He needed to mobilize citizens and get them to dream up, try out, fight over, and ultimately own the sometimes painful solutions that would transform the country and move it forward. To do that, he needed to maintain a certain level of fermentation and distress. So, for example, he orchestrated conflicts over public priorities and programs among the large cast of creative people he brought into the government. By giving the same assignment to two different administrators and refusing to clearly define their roles, he got them to generate new and competing ideas. Roosevelt displayed both the acuity to recognize when the tension in the nation had risen too high and the emotional strength to take the heat and permit considerable anxiety to persist.

Place the work where it belongs.
Because major change requires people across an entire organization to adapt, you as a leader need to resist the reflex reaction of providing people with the answers. Instead, force yourself to transfer, as Roosevelt did, much of the work and problem solving to others. If you don’t, real and sustainable change won’t occur. In addition, it’s risky on a personal level to continue to hold on to the work that should be done by others.

As a successful executive, you have gained credibility and authority by demonstrating your capacity to solve other people’s problems. This ability can be a virtue, until you find yourself faced with a situation in which you cannot deliver solutions. When this happens, all of your habits, pride, and sense of competence get thrown out of kilter because you must mobilize the work of others rather than find the way yourself. By trying to solve an adaptive challenge for people, at best you will reconfigure it as a technical problem and create some short-term relief. But the issue will not have gone away.

In the 1994 National Basketball Association Eastern Conference semifinals, the Chicago Bulls lost to the New York Knicks in the first two games of the best-of-seven series. Chicago was out to prove that it was more than just a one-man team, that it could win without Michael Jordan, who had retired at the end of the previous season.

In the third game, the score was tied at 102 with less than two seconds left. Chicago had the ball and a time-out to plan a final shot. Coach Phil Jackson called for Scottie Pippen, the

Bulls’ star since Jordan had retired, to make the inbound pass to Toni Kukoc for the final shot. As play was about to resume, Jackson noticed Pippen sitting at the far end of the bench. Jackson asked him whether he was in or out. “I’m out,” said Pippen, miffed that he was not tapped to take the final shot. With only four players on the floor, Jackson quickly called another time-out and substituted an excellent passer, the reserve Pete Myers, for Pippen. Myers tossed a perfect pass to Kukoc, who spun around and sank a miraculous shot to win the game.

The Bulls made their way back to the locker room, their euphoria deflated by Pippen’s extraordinary act of insubordination. Jackson recalls that as he entered a silent room, he was uncertain about what to do. Should he punish Pippen? Make him apologize? Pretend the whole thing never happened? All eyes were on him. The coach looked around, meeting the gaze of each player, and said, “What happened has hurt us. Now you have to work this out.”

Jackson knew that if he took action to resolve the immediate crisis, he would have made Pippen’s behavior a matter between coach and player. But he understood that a deeper issue was at the heart of the incident: Who were the Chicago Bulls without Michael Jordan? It wasn’t about who was going to succeed Jordan, because no one was; it was about whether the players could jell as a team where no one person dominated and every player was willing to do whatever it took to help. The issue rested with the players, not him, and only they could resolve it. It did not matter what they decided at that moment; what mattered was that they, not Jackson, did the deciding. What followed was a discussion led by an emotional Bill Cartwright, a team veteran. According to Jackson, the conversation brought the team closer together. The Bulls took the series to a seventh game before succumbing to the Knicks.

Jackson gave the work of addressing both the Pippen and the Jordan issues back to the team for another reason: If he had taken ownership of the problem, he would have become the issue, at least for the moment. In his case, his position as coach probably wouldn’t have been threatened. But in other situations, taking responsibility for resolving a conflict within the organization poses risks. You are likely to find yourself resented by the faction that you decide against and held responsible by nearly everyone for the turmoil your decision generates. In the eyes of many, the only way to neutralize the threat is to get rid of you.

Despite that risk, most executives can’t resist the temptation to solve fundamental organizational problems by themselves. People expect you to get right in there and fix things, to take a stand and resolve the problem. After all, that is what top managers are paid to do. When you fulfill those expectations, people will call you admirable and courageous—even a “leader”—and that is flattering. But challenging your employees’ expectations requires greater courage and leadership.

The Dangers Within
We have described a handful of leadership tactics you can use to interact with the people around you, particularly those who might undermine your initiatives. Those tactics can help advance your initiatives and, just as important, ensure that you remain in a position where you can bring them to fruition. But from our own observations and painful personal experiences, we know that one of the surest ways for an organization to bring you down is simply to let you precipitate your own demise.

In the heat of leadership, with the adrenaline pumping, it is easy to convince yourself that you are not subject to the normal human frailties that can defeat ordinary mortals. You begin to act as if you are indestructible. But the intellectual, physical, and emotional challenges of leadership are fierce. So, in addition to getting on the balcony, you need to regularly step into the inner chamber of your being and assess the tolls those challenges are taking. If you don’t, your seemingly indestructible self can self-destruct. This, by the way, is an ideal outcome for your foes—and even friends who oppose your initiative—because no one has to feel responsible for your downfall.

Manage your hungers.
We all have hungers, expressions of our normal human needs. But sometimes those hungers disrupt our capacity to act wisely or purposefully. Whether inherited or products of our upbringing, some of these hungers may be so strong that they render us constantly vulnerable. More typically, a stressful situation or setting can exaggerate a normal level of need, amplifying our desires and overwhelming our usual self-discipline. Two of the most common and dangerous hungers are the desire for control and the desire for importance.

Everyone wants to have some measure of control over his or her life. Yet some people’s need for control is disproportionately high. They might have grown up in a household that was either tightly structured or unusually chaotic; in either case, the situation drove them to become masters at taming chaos not only in their own lives but also in their organizations.

That need for control can be a source of vulnerability. Initially, of course, the ability to turn disorder into order may be seen as an attribute. In an organization facing turmoil, you may seem like a godsend if you are able (and desperately want) to step in and take charge. By lowering the distress to a tolerable level, you keep the kettle from boiling over.

But in your desire for order, you can mistake the means for the end. Rather than ensuring that the distress level in an organization remains high enough to mobilize progress on the issues, you focus on maintaining order as an end in itself. Forcing people to make the difficult trade-offs required by fundamental change threatens a return to the disorder you loathe. Your ability to bring the situation under control also suits the people in the organization, who naturally prefer calm to chaos. Unfortunately, this desire for control makes you vulnerable to, and an agent of, the organization’s wish to avoid working through contentious issues. While this may ensure your survival in the short term, ultimately you may find yourself accused, justifiably, of failing to deal with the tough challenges when there was still time to do so.

Most people also have some need to feel important and affirmed by others. The danger here is that you will let this affirmation give you an inflated view of yourself and your cause. A grandiose sense of self-importance often leads to self-deception. In particular, you tend to forget the creative role that doubt—which reveals parts of reality that you wouldn’t otherwise see—plays in getting your organization to improve. The absence of doubt leads you to see only that which confirms your own competence, which will virtually guarantee disastrous missteps.

Another harmful side effect of an inflated sense of self-importance is that you will encourage people in the organization to become dependent on you. The higher the level of distress, the greater their hopes and expectations that you will provide deliverance. This relieves them of any responsibility for moving the organization forward. But their dependence can be detrimental not only to the group but to you personally. Dependence can quickly turn to contempt as your constituents discover your human shortcomings.
Two well-known stories from the computer industry illustrate the perils of dependency—and how to avoid them. Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, built the company into a 120,000-person operation that, at its peak, was the chief rival of IBM. A generous man, he treated his employees extraordinarily well and experimented with personnel policies designed to increase the creativity, teamwork, and satisfaction of his workforce. This, in tandem with the company’s success over the years, led the company’s top management to turn to him as the sole decision maker on all key issues. His decision to shun the personal computer market because of his belief that few people would ever want to own a PC, which seemed reasonable at the time, is generally viewed as the beginning of the end for the company. But that isn’t the point; everyone in business makes bad decisions. The point is, Olsen had fostered such an atmosphere of dependence that his decisions were rarely challenged by colleagues—at least not until it was too late.

Contrast that decision with Bill Gates’s decision some years later to keep Microsoft out of the Internet business. It didn’t take long for him to reverse his stand and launch a corporate overhaul that had Microsoft’s delivery of Internet services as its centerpiece. After watching the rapidly changing computer industry and listening carefully to colleagues, Gates changed his mind with no permanent damage to his sense of pride and an enhanced reputation due to his nimble change of course.

Anchor yourself.
To survive the turbulent seas of a change initiative, you need to find ways to steady and stabilize yourself. First, you must establish a safe harbor where each day you can reflect on the previous day’s journey, repair the psychological damage you have incurred, renew your stores of emotional resources, and recalibrate your moral compass. Your haven might be a physical place, such as the kitchen table of a friend’s house, or a regular routine, such as a daily walk through the neighborhood. Whatever the sanctuary, you need to use and protect it. Unfortunately, seeking such respite is often seen as a luxury, making it one of the first things to go when life gets stressful and you become pressed for time.

To survive, you need a sanctuary where you can reflect on the previous day’s journey, renew your emotional resources, and recalibrate your moral compass.

Second, you need a confidant, someone you can talk to about what’s in your heart and on your mind without fear of being judged or betrayed. Once the undigested mess is on the table, you can begin to separate, with your confidant’s honest input, what is worthwhile from what is simply venting. The confidant, typically not a coworker, can also pump you up when you’re down and pull you back to earth when you start taking praise too seriously. But don’t confuse confidants with allies: Instead of supporting your current initiative, a confidant simply supports you. A common mistake is to seek a confidant among trusted allies, whose personal loyalty may evaporate when a new issue more important to them than you begins to emerge and take center stage.

Perhaps most important, you need to distinguish between your personal self, which can serve as an anchor in stormy weather, and your professional role, which never will. It is easy to mix up the two. And other people only increase the confusion: Colleagues, subordinates, and even bosses often act as if the role you play is the real you. But that is not the case, no matter how much of yourself—your passions, your values, your talents—you genuinely and laudably pour into your professional role. Ask anyone who has experienced the rude awakening that comes when they leave a position of authority and suddenly find that their phone calls aren’t returned as quickly as they used to be.

That harsh lesson holds another important truth that is easily forgotten: When people attack someone in a position of authority, more often than not they are attacking the role, not the person. Even when attacks on you are highly personal, you need to read them primarily as reactions to how you, in your role, are affecting people’s lives. Understanding the criticism for what it is prevents it from undermining your stability and sense of self-worth. And that’s important because when you feel the sting of an attack, you are likely to become defensive and lash out at your critics, which can precipitate your downfall.

We hasten to add that criticism may contain legitimate points about how you are performing your role. For example, you may have been tactless in raising an issue with your organization, or you may have turned the heat up too quickly on a change initiative. But, at its heart, the criticism is usually about the issue, not you. Through the guise of attacking you personally, people often are simply trying to neutralize the threat they perceive in your point of view. Does anyone ever attack you when you hand out big checks or deliver good news? People attack your personality, style, or judgment when they don’t like the message.

When you take “personal” attacks personally, you unwittingly conspire in one of the common ways you can be taken out of action—you make yourself the issue. Contrast the manner in which presidential candidates Gary Hart and Bill Clinton handled charges of philandering. Hart angrily counterattacked, criticizing the scruples of the reporters who had shadowed him. This defensive personal response kept the focus on his behavior. Clinton, on national television, essentially admitted he had strayed, acknowledging his piece of the mess. His strategic handling of the situation allowed him to return the campaign’s focus to policy issues. Though both attacks were extremely personal, only Clinton understood that they were basically attacks on positions he represented and the role he was seeking to play.
Do not underestimate the difficulty of distinguishing self from role and responding coolly to what feels like a personal attack—particularly when the criticism comes, as it will, from people you care about. But disciplining yourself to do so can provide you with an anchor that will keep you from running aground and give you the stability to remain calm, focused, and persistent in engaging people with the tough issues.

Why Lead?
We will have failed if this “survival manual” for avoiding the perils of leadership causes you to become cynical or callous in your leadership effort or to shun the challenges of leadership altogether. We haven’t touched on the thrill of inspiring people to come up with creative solutions that can transform an organization for the better. We hope we have shown that the essence of leadership lies in the capacity to deliver disturbing news and raise difficult questions in a way that moves people to take up the message rather than kill the messenger. But we haven’t talked about the reasons that someone might want to take these risks.

Of course, many people who strive for high-authority positions are attracted to power. But in the end, that isn’t enough to make the high stakes of the game worthwhile. We would argue that, when they look deep within themselves, people grapple with the challenges of leadership in order to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

When corporate presidents and vice presidents reach their late fifties, they often look back on careers devoted to winning in the marketplace. They may have succeeded remarkably, yet some people have difficulty making sense of their lives in light of what they have given up. For too many, their accomplishments seem empty. They question whether they should have been more aggressive in questioning corporate purposes or creating more ambitious visions for their companies.

Our underlying assumption in this article is that you can lead and stay alive—not just register a pulse, but really be alive. But the classic protective devices of a person in authority tend to insulate them from those qualities that foster an acute experience of living. Cynicism, often dressed up as realism, undermines creativity and daring. Arrogance, often posing as authoritative knowledge, snuffs out curiosity and the eagerness to question. Callousness, sometimes portrayed as the thick skin of experience, shuts out compassion for others.

The hard truth is that it is not possible to know the rewards and joys of leadership without experiencing the pain as well. But staying in the game and bearing that pain is worth it, not only for the positive changes you can make in the lives of others but also for the meaning it gives your own.

Source: Harvard Business Reviw, 2002
Authors: Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky
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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: McKinsey.com, December 2018
By: Kevin Laczkowski, Werner Rehm, and Blair Warner
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