Editor Atlarge

Leadership capability

Leaders need to develop the employees in their teams and it is no longer enough to focus on technical job level skills, to be successful in the current environment you need grow leadership traits and build broader competence in organisational capability. Firms and leaders know that driving sustainable long-term performance requires equal emphasis on how the firm makes money (performance) and how leaders run the place (health). McKinsey have codified this into four quadrants and have been exploring how to apply this organisational capability model at both the  organization and individual level. The quadrant model builds capabilities by teaching the business, teaching management, ensuring the technical and functional skills are built and then focusing on building organisational capabilities. How we make moneyHelping employees have a solid understanding of what is driving business performance. The organisational strategic priorities and the status of critical initiatives and performance metrics. The learning objective is to ensure that everyone understandsContinue Reading

Persuasion

How do you go about convincing a boss, colleague or stakeholder that there is another way? The subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) art of persuasion is an important skill to build to ensure that the loudest voice is not the only choice. In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Adam Grant writes about Steve Jobs, a man legendary for his genius and for how difficult it was to influence him. The main thesis of this really excellent article is that “much of Apple’s success came from his team’s pushing him to rethink his positions. If Jobs hadn’t surrounded himself with people who knew how to change his mind, he might not have changed the world.“ Persuasion has been a successful topic for business writers and there are numerous books available on the topic. Jobs however was notoriously difficult to influence and Grant tracked down and spoke toContinue Reading

Can you find your life’s purpose in nine boxes? McKinsey research has developed a really interesting analysis to better understand what uniquely motivates each of us, using a familiar nine box model. As you unpack the model you note there is an X/Y axis that looks at the influence of SELF/OTHERS and AGENCY/INTEGRATION on our purpose. The dynamic of the axis is to better understand the influences on our values. The horizontal axis represents the ‘target’ of our personal activities, the values that reflect who we are in our personal lives. The vertical axis represents the underlying ‘motives’ for our work activities, which as the authors state ranges “from our drive to expand our sense of self to our drive to cooperate and unite with the world around us. While each of us are individually aligned to a specific mix of values, McKinsey research has identified three value combinations thatContinue Reading

What are the qualities of an innovative leader? often when people think of innovators they are really thinking about creative thinkers, people who generate ideas but the innovative leader is more than that. Innovative leaders typified by Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and others are people with big ideas who can motivate people to turn the ideas into reality. Imagination and communication An innovative leader needs powerful imagination and excellent communication skills, the ability to craft a story that can visualise an idea, and sell a concept. Encouraging creativity means not being micro managers, it is about motivation and inspiration. Innovation Requires Optimism Innovative leaders need to consider the potential, look for opportunities and have a open perspective that says ‘why not’. Knowing when to Kill it No matter how much emotional investment might have gone into a project, the innovative leader knows when to stop investing time in specific initiativesContinue Reading

This article explains five ways that leaders can enable innovation in teams, innovation does not happen in silo’s, it is most effective when you understand the process flows between different business functional units, when you analyse and understand your competitors offerings, when you understand the changes in market dynamics and the role of emerging technology. “most companies continue to assume that innovation comes from that individual genius, or, at best, small, sequestered teams that vanish from sight and then return with big ideas.” By Rob Cross , Andrew Hargadon , Salvatore Pariseand Robert J. Thomas. “Together We Innovate” WSJ If you can score above 36% in the workplace serendipity quiz, you are proficient at leading innovative teams. “Innovation requires a certain type of person: they are passionate explorers in pursuit of endless possibilities.” The best leaders also know that innovation comes from multiple sources both internally and externally. When you bring people together from divergent points ofContinue Reading

This paper looks at Innovation Leadership a term that encompasses creating the climate for innovation within organisations as well as driving innovation to ensure an organisation is driving growth, is healthy and continues to be commercially viable. The authors state that Innovation Leadership has two components, Innovative Leadership and Leadership for Innovation Innovative LeadershipApplying Innovative Thinking to Leadership Tasks. Establishing new ways of thinking and different actions in how you lead, manage and go about work. How you face into complex challenges and the tools and processes utilised to deal with complex, entrenched or intractable problems. Innovative Leaders are quick and agile often in the absence of detail or predictability. Leadership for InnovationCreating the climate and framework where innovation can thrive in the organisation. Empowering and enabling the team to apply Innovative Thinking to solving problems and developing new products and services. Six Innovation Thinking Skills The authors propose sixContinue Reading

Ikigai is a Japanese phrase that essentially defines your reason for being, it is the connection between doing what you love, what you value and what you are good at. Your Ikigai is not just about your career it is a more pure reflection of your sense of purpose and wellbeing. Numerous books have been written on the topic with many looking more holistically at why some Japanese who explicitly practice ‘ikigai’ are happier and live longer. Culturally in Japan the separation between making money and reason for being is important, and this coming from a country where people live for their company, a career is often with one organisation for life and they have a word for death by overwork (Karoshi). Ikigai does not specify as many representations show that the intersection between what you love, what you are good at AND what you can be paid for. BUTContinue Reading

Feeling safe in an unsafe world is key to grounding our effective leadership, in this article the author explains that humans yearn for a sense of safety, which is deeply linked to our evolution. This provides us with a positive calm when we are confidently able to predict what is going on in our environment, when we can act with certainty and control. However when the world gets unpredictable, we no longer have certainty and we can no longer accurately predict the immediate future in broad terms, that is when our sense of safety flies right out the window. This article is also available as a YouTube video (where you can view Ed’s extremely impressive Santa beard) which is available at the end of the article. “Control is an illusion” Sheldon Kopp We pursue control as way to create a sense of safety in an unpredictable world and here theContinue Reading

This article looks at innovation methodologies used by the SAP Design and Co Innovation Centre which are utilised to get clients involved in brainstorming and the design process. There are five methods suggested: Brainstorming: The Walt Disney Method This method utilises role play based not three facets of Disney’s personality, ‘the dreamer’, ‘the realist’ and ‘the spoiler’ in the exercise each role is used to work through the concept, to consider what is possible (dreamer), then to consider how to do it (realist) and what could go wrong (spoiler). Empathy Mapping An empathy map is a way to cluster results based on thoughts feelings pain and gains. Starting with a white board or large piece of paper with a head and five sections what the character sees, hears, things, feels and is challenged by. Here’s a more detailed description and the online game. Belbin Characters Dr. Meredith Belbin found that whenContinue Reading

This article looks at Apple and the Innovator’s Dilemma in particular with the iPhone as the main success trap potentially holding Apple back. “When you get a product that is wildly successful you get comfortable”, this stops trying something new and new ideas have to compete for resources with the core product. Clayton Christensen wrote his first book about the Innovators Dilemma in 1997, demonstrating how very successful companies could do everything right and still lose market leadership or even fail as new unexpected competitors rise and take over the market. In this article by Molly Wood she makes the point that if you go back and read that book and replace every time that Christensen mentions “a company” with “Apple” it looks that Apple is a company on the verge of being disrupted and that it is unlikely that the next great idea in technology will come from Cupertino.Continue Reading