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Does Your Team Have System Think?

System Think WEBCarter McNamara, http://goo.gl/bIK5XA, a well-known business consultant, states,

"The system's overall behavior depends on its entire structure (not the sum of its various parts). The structure determines the various behaviors, which determine the various events. Too often, we only see and respond to the events. That's why, especially in the early parts of our lives, we can be so short-sighted and reactionary in our lives and in our work. We miss the broader scheme of things."

This concept is something I strive to instill in coaching clients by helping them to see their lives and their careers as a system. No, it’s not too romantic, but it does help the thinking, analytical, and goal setting process to take roots. This applies to business, management, and leadership as well.

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Is Seeing the Big Picture Smart?

Big Pix

There are two camps, those who see the big picture and those who are detailed oriented. There are some individuals who are lucky enough to see both the big picture and not lose sight of the details. The difference between these two skills is that being detailed oriented is more about having a focused eye on tasks. The big picture falls more into the strategic side of business. Which is more important. It depends.

Many CEOs and other executives think that they should be the only ones who are capable of or who need to see the big picture and that line employees just need to concentrate on the details or the tasks at hand. Is this smart?

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What Were You Thinking?

Thinking WEBMany of us may have heard this from a parent or even a boss. As we mature, our thinking changes – or at least it should. The same holds true for those who advance up the professional ladder. Of course, the objective is for us to be as mature a thinker as possible at any given age or stage in our careers. However, there is an art and a science to leadership thinking.

Thinking like a leader involves more than just the difference between strategic and non-strategic thinking. There are several layers, if you will, that build on having the ability to think in leadership thought patterns. I call them thought patterns as we all have established patterns in our lives from which we tend to operate on a daily basis. Some of us have the pattern of the Drama Queen Pattern, where everything is a four-alarm fire. Some of us have the Ostrich Pattern where we ignore, run, or hide from thinking about and facing challenges. There’s the Ignoring Pattern where we think that if we just ignore it, the challenge will soon go away. Finally, there’s the Blaming Pattern where we blame others for things that do or do not happen. Leaders do not operate – or think – from any of these foundations.

When you think like a leader, you build on patterns that you develop throughout your life. Some of those patterns are below.

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The Deadwood Dilemma

Deadwood Slacker WEB

“Were they dead when you hired them? Or did you kill them?* 
W. Edwards Deming

This is an interesting question that deserves some serious thought. The Japanese place low producers, or deadwood, in isolation. In other words, they place the low performers far from the office mainstream and they have little or nothing to do. All of this is with the hope that they will just quit. We, in America, employ this technique as well. However, in many cases, instead of firing them, we promote them just to get them out of our department! You may be laughing, but there is at least one entity where this is SOP. Can you say U.S. Government? In fact, once when coaching a government executive, we both agreed it would be a good idea for me to meet his three-person team. One of his team members, about whom he had the most complaints, was in attendance. When the team left, I looked at the executive, I’m sure my jaw was hanging open, when I remarked, he is almost childlike isn’t he? The executive was nodding in agreement, saying “You know, I had never thought of that, but you’re right!” What alternatives are there to just tolerating, ostracizing or blindly promoting deadwood?

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Strategic Thinking and Common Sense – Both Sides of the Same Coin?

Common Sense Sign WEB

Strategic thinking, much less strategic planning, can be a foreign topic to many team members. Yes, even executives. This begs the question, how did these people ever get to be executives if they are not able to think strategically? That’s a good question, but one for another blog. This blog will help you determine if your team is thinking strategically and what to do if they aren’t.

Here is a hypothetical situation of what can happen. Let’s say an organization recently completed their two year strategic plan. Great start. Their plan calls for a large monetary goal to be reached in just two years. Setting an aggressive, yet reachable goal, is another good thing. The implantation of their plan, may be a little more elusive. Here are some reasons why this may be true.

  • Most of the team members are not strategic thinkers
  • There is no accountability
  • Talent management could use some tweaks

Let’s take a look at each of these factors and see what can be changed to implement a strategic plan.

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The Neglected Strategies of Strategic Planning

Strategic w people WEBMany organiztions fail to conduct strategic planning. Some think they are too small to conduct strategic planning, others don’t want to take the time, and others feel the process is too complicated or useless. Many organizations that do conduct strategic planning fail to execute any part of the plan and it winds up collecting dust in some out of way forgotten bookcase. Not only is strategic planning neglected, but even when strategic planning is conducted, many parts of it are neglected. Why is this?

The Neglected Strategy of Execution

Many times the root cause is that there is no execution plan in place. The execution plan needs to include the entire organization, in particular, departments. How can a strategic plan be brought to life if no one knows it exists?

Yes, the executive team knows. The questions to ask are, “Is the executive team sharing this with managers?” and “Are the managers sharing the plan with their individual teams within the departments?” Yes, you must be discreet in sharing some items from the annual strategic plan, but there are others that must be shared in order for implementation and real change to occur.

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The Wheels on the Bus Go ‘Round and ‘Round

School BusYou no doubt have read numerous articles about ensuring that you have the right people on the bus and making sure they are sitting in the right seat on the bus. First of all, we’re going to assume that your bus is heading in the right direction and that its wheels have not fallen off. So if your bus is not on course and intact, your hiring process can certainly help to begin repairs. For example, if you use a four-part hiring system such as:

 - Behavioral Interviewing
-  Assessments
-  Background checks
-  Drug Tests

then you should have good luck in selecting the right person for the job at hand. Of course, there are other activities that help as well,

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What do GE, MRIs, and ROIs Have in Common?

Health Care Costs WEBIn a recent article in Kornferry Briefings, an interview with Clara Gaymard, President and CEO GE France, Ms. Gaymard reveals how walking a mile in someone else’s shoes can benefit customers and give new life to a failing ROI.

Having a desire to sell their magnetic resonance imaging machines or MRIs and wanting both a good ROI and the machines to have the largest impact; GE began researching countries with the greatest need for the machines. This research revealed that the wait for an MRI in France was 45 days. This is much longer than the waits in Germany, the UK, and so on.

Business Lesson #1: Find the need for your product or service. As the old saying goes, you may be able to sell a bikini to an Eskimo, but does the customer really want one?

Logically, GE offers the MRIs to the health ministers in France. One might reason that the government of France would be all too happy to upgrade its health care system and provide its citizens with quick access to such an important health benefit. Not so fast, Dr. No. The health ministers, on the other hand, reason that their obligation is how to cut health care costs and give their ROI a shot in the arm.

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