Success Mindsets For Astute Scanning

By: Dr. Mary Lippitt | March 20, 2017

We all recognize that better decisions follow reliable data collection. However, obtaining it remains a challenge. Too often we accept a penetrating glimpse of the obvious or past practice since it is safe and efficient to keep doing what we have always done.  Unfortunately, this tendency keeps us in an echo chamber where old assumptions reside and reverberate.mindsets

Generating valuable current information requires a new approach. We just cannot wish for insight, we must adopt practices that ensure that we really know what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. Otherwise, we pay a heavy price for being blindsided, surprised or shocked by events. Volkswagen’s emission control software or Wells Fargo cross-selling requirements illustrate the dangers of siloed thinking and superficial analysis.  These failures were not a matter of low IQ or inexperience. They were created by constrained frames of reference or restricted mindsets. Just as looking only one way before crossing the street is foolhardy, relying on one slice of information before making an organizational decision is wrong.

The term mindset has various interpretations. My definition centers on a willingness to investigate all situational facets when confronting complexity.   Let me give an everyday example, if you saw raining pouring down outside, you will likely decide to wear a raincoat rather than a wool jacket.   Your decision is independent of personal style or education.   Your choice depended on current information or realities. Certainly, organizational conundrums are more complex than picking outerwear but the process of assessing conditions before acting applies to both personal and business decisions.  We must collect and weigh information to make smart decisions. Lazy thinking is risky behavior. We need to keep on top of events to excel.

Exploring six organizational mindsets deliver success and avoid blunders.  The six mindsets cover what:

  • new or innovative offerings can be launched;
  • customers want and need;
  • systems, infrastructure, and policies improve alignment;
  • processes improve the bottom line;
  • staffing and culture support sustained excellence; and
  • trends and alliance create new opportunities.

Understanding and using six operational aspects does not require a Ph.D.  Instead, we need a willingness to collect information and this collection can be easily guided by a checklist of questions for each mindset. While checklists appear simplistic, professionals rely on them. Surgeons, lawyers, and pilots consult checklists to confirm all aspects have been covered. Leaders who use a success mindset checklist develop a complete environmental scan.

Success follows a “ready, aim, fire” sequence, where being ready requires a complete investigation, aiming evaluates alternatives and firing is the decision on action to take. Certainly reducing the process to “ready, fire” appears tempting but it hides a high cost. Complexity and change demand full reality check. And, it pay-offs by avoiding having to spend time recalling, re-issuing or repairing misguided decisions. Astute scanning advances your reputation conserves resources and ensures delivers desired results.

First published at:  https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/success-mindsets-for-astute-scanning/

Preparing For What’s Next: Leveraging Your Company’s Life Cycle

By Dr. Mary Lippitt | December 15, 2016business lifecycle

What are you focusing on now? After a successful launch, entrepreneurs have a choice. They can sit back and continue to do what they have done so far or they can recognize the need to prepare for what comes next. Too often entrepreneurs make the wrong choice to stay the course using the logic “why mess with success.” However there is good reason to refocus based on changing realities. Mark Twain’s comment that even if you are on the right track you will get run over if you just sit there. And we know that 50% of new businesses fail. To ensure sustained success, leaders must adopt a strategic perspective based on industry trends and their organization’s life cycle. Everyone knows the value of using the product or project life cycle and overlook the impact of the organization’s cycle. Learn how to leverage the six organizational stages to seize new opportunities and avoid pitfalls. Here’s my recent Interview on this important topic, as conducted by Marcia Zidle, host of The Business Edge:

Preparing for What’s Next: Leveraging Your Company’s Life Cycle

First Published at:  https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/preparing-for-whats-next-leveraging-your-companys-life-cycle/

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The “Price” of Innovation: No Free Lunches

| leadership

Innovation. The very word conjures breakthrough products, magazine covers, and celebrity status. But those associations are too good to be the whole story. It requires a closer, more balanced, look. Innovation comes at a cost to leaders, teams and the organization.

Organizational Culture and Policy Change

Attention to measures, accountability and efficiencies have dominated organizational initiatives in the last few years. Innovation thrives on exploration, curiosity and discovery, rather than productive performance. It takes time to identify new options or synergies. Google and 3M are known for providing some of their employee’s discretionary time. How much time are you willing to provide? Which employees would be eligible? Can you shift from a short-term mindset to a longer time frame to develop and test those ideas? What changes to your reward system are necessary to support and maintain innovation?

Change in Leadership Practices

A leader’s role is typically defined as setting goals and measuring performance. While coaching and analytical thinking have been added in the last decade, leading for innovation requires additional skills. Engagement, risk taking, supporting setbacks and building resilience have become critical to innovation.

Overcoming the fear of failure or the stigma attached to anything less than stellar success stems from leaders who are willing to challenge thinking and insist on asking hard questions. One leader I worked with had a practice of starting each staff meeting with the question: What mistake have you made and what have you learned from it? It certainly set a standard for creative thought. Great ideas can come from any part of the organization. What are you doing as a leader to support the probing questions and assumption testing? You might be surprised what a brand new team member might ask and the opportunities those questions open.

New Support for Collaboration and Cross Functional Teaming

Did you know that the Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison worked with a team? In fact, several of his patents included the name of his teammates. While we have the image of the lone inventor, innovation thrives in teams. Cross-functional teams have one of the strongest track records for innovation. Combining engineering and medicine has provided breakthroughs in cardiology, orthopedics and more. The field of bioinformatics is just one example of how new fields of study can arise at crossroads of traditional functional definitions. What kind of teaming are you relying on? Is the team’s culture based on competition or collaboration? Is it siloed in one functional area or expanded across areas of expertise. And, how is teamwork rewarded?

Stand Up for Cancer Research efforts (SU2C) have demonstrated how the hero inventor must be transformed into a more collaborative effort not only across disciplines but also across organizations. Instead of researchers striving to be singled out for a Nobel Prize, the need to digest a torrent of data and complex interactions mandates a different approach across research centers. How can leaders build teams, overcome turfdoms, and create collaboration to identify new opportunities and solve intricate problems?

Is Innovation Worth the Price?

Recognizing the fact that there is a cost associated with innovation, does not mean that the costs outweigh the benefits. The pay-off in market leadership, new business models, product introduction and extension, service to customers and personal significance more than compensate for the adopting the quest for innovation. Just because a lunch is not free, does mean that you forgo the meal. It can still be a delicious delight.

Breaking News! 50 Year Old CEO Found Sleeping in Crib!

By Mary Lippitt | May 31, 2011Organizational change, change management

I bet a few thoughts popped into your head when you read the title of this post.

  • What?!
  • Ridiculous!
  • Who in their right mind?
  • Err…how big was the crib?
  • Wait, I thought Charlie Sheen was in his 40’s?

A 50-year-old CEO sleeping in a crib is as ridiculous as a leader who insists there is no reason to change from the tried and true.

Organizations, like people, have a life cycle. Too often, leaders fail to correctly identify where they are in their organization life cycle and fail to make the adjustments necessary to accommodate changing circumstances, technology, competition and customer requirements; instead, clinging to one concept of leadership, a concept that no longer works.

In so many areas of life, consistency is considered a benefit or virtue. Not so when you’re talking about leading today’s organization. The demands of a baby, much like the demands of a new business, necessitate a constant devotion and involvement to keep pace with changing requirements. Whether a parent adequately adjusts to the teenage years or a leader flexes to meet changing customer expectations, agility counts.  If an organization’s leader stays mired in tradition or a parent gets stuck in one parenting stage, the opportunity for evolutionary change is lost.  The only option left then is radical shifts.

Entrepreneurs are famous for being too “hands on” and end up resisting the natural growth of their firm. They miss the need for professionalism as part of the organization life cycle. Leaders of mature organizations make a similar mistake by refusing to see the need to reinvent their firm, product line or processes. Holding on too tightly to the past is a recipe for failure, much as trying to hold on to a college student can invite turmoil.

Change is often easier to identify in a child than in an organization. The child’s need for new clothes or their changing interests and preferred technology are obvious. Organizational change may not be as clear as the rising marks on a door frame or wall, but change is ongoing and leaders must identify it and adapt.

The impact of the recession has created a fixation with cost cutting, waste reducing, and redundancy hunting. While these methods likely paid-off for many firms, sticking to them over the long term is ill advised. Companies and leaders who have the ability to recognize the change in their organizations have the ability to lead that change and stay ahead of the curve.  Adopting a firefighting mode in a crisis mode appears heroic.  It isn’t, and it invites disaster.

Leaders need to recognize their organization life cycle and help guide the organization through the natural changes.  Shifting may be the antithesis of consistency, but it is the bedfellow of excellence.  Make sure your leaders do not dig in their heels and fail to see how cycles impact them, much like the toddler who is in the “no” phase.

What signals have you used to successfully identify where your organization is in its life cycle?