Brilliant Or Blunder- Key Mindsets For Leaders

Eileen Bild had an opportunity to interview Dr. Mary Lippitt, an award-winning author of “Brilliant or Blunder  6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity and Complexity,” and founder of Enterprise Management Ltd.

Dr. Lippitt is the pioneer of 6 Success Mindsets that comprise the Leadership Spectrum Profile. Take a few minutes to read and learn why mindset is so relevant in leadership and how to achieve excellence through applying the six key mindsets of the Leadership Spectrum Profile. These mindsets together help leaders to understand their current thinking while producing concrete action steps and definitive questions to guide their performance in leadership.

There are six key mindsets in her Leadership Spectrum Profile, where she not only helps leaders to understand where their thinking is currently operating but gives concrete action steps and definitive questions that guides one for success in leadership.

As a pioneer in focusing on results, Mary has been consulting for over 30 years enabling organizations to thrive in a world of constant change. As you read through this interview, you will have a sense of what it takes for breakthrough performance and maximizing leadership skills.


EB: You are an author, leadership expert, and columnist. Your book, Brilliant or Blunder, reveals six key mindsets that leaders can choose from before making a costly error. Please share what is most important in our mindset that will guide us to success.

ML: My book highlights the need for people to actually think. Organizations tend to go with their gut, intuition, habits, and past practice. These are great when a situation is routine and is about tradition. But, when we face complexity, uncertainty, and change, I’m suggesting we actually step back and think about something in a slow way. 

My goal is to give people a blueprint, a checklist, so they can achieve results. What they need is an open mind, a lot of curiosity, and a willingness to accept the world as it is, rather than what they want it to be. The ability to let go of habits, reflect on things, and confer with others is critical.  We cannot rely on the past to guide our future.

EB: Leadership requires decision making and positive influence. As a thought leader, what have been the best decisions you have made for your career?

ML: I found, writing the book was a great decision since it organized my thoughts. I am also pleased with the decision since I see that as a gift to help leaders make the right call at the right time. Being able to help others translate theory into reality is rewarding.

For example, entrepreneurs are so focused on the new idea, getting to market & funding, they don’t always see the whole picture.  The Mindset checklist is a tool they can use effectively to avoid mental blinders.

EB: How do you positively influence your clients?

ML: I have an ethical standard that one of my roles is to make sure when I leave a client, they have the tools to carry on without me. I leave them with a mindset checklist they can hold onto and apply. For every mindset, there are eleven questions they can ask, so when they are confronted with a complex situation, they can run through the list and make sure they have all the information. This also becomes a tool they can use with their staff.

Frequently leaders are frustrated when their staff does not finish assignments with the expected quality or timeliness.  As a result, they stop delegating robbing others of developmental opportunities and overloading their plates.

By using the checklist, it improves autonomy and job satisfaction. If you don’t apply the work right away, it gets lost.

There are six mindsets and each focuses on a distinct goal and outcome. Read the full interview at BizCatalyst360 –https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/brilliant-or-blunder-key-mindsets-for-leaders/#

Critical and Strategic Thinking Builds Agility

Leaders say they want to boost creativity, critical thinking and agility to improve performance and manage change. Research studies confirm the accuracy of those statements. Who wouldn’t want their staff to be quick on their feet, display ingenuity, offer critical insights, or make effective strategic choices? However, there is no consensus on how to boost agile thinking or increase brain capacity beyond the standard 10% utilization. The track record of using brain exercises, problem-solving techniques, brainstorm gatherings and reward programs indicate a failure to deliver.    

One hopeful option is the practice of integrating agility into everyday activities. Consider the impact of changing long-standing practices such as the standard staff meeting, which rarely engages the whole staff, or outlawing the practice of shooting ideas down before there is any chance to really explore the concept. Small changes can have big results. Conformity, habit, traditions, silos and robotic responses limit opportunities to see options and long-term implications.

Shifting our lens to form new perspectives, employing divergent thinking, asking questions, identifying patterns, connecting the dots, and attentive listening supports agile thinking. But these practices require a framework to increase confidence, employ broad analysis, and exercise nimble thinking.

The structure I use to ensure critical, strategic and agile thinking is the Success Mindsets template. It ensures a comprehensive data collection, careful scrutiny of that information and generating alternative paths. Using this framework prevents me from jumping to conclusions, relying on past solutions or remaining boxed-in by habit. It also forces me to review current conditions, assess what is possible and set my priority on what is probable.

The Success Mindsets focal points target organizational results, including (1) developing new products, (2) serving customers, (3) designing organizational systems and policies, (4) Improving quality and ROI, (5) engaging and retaining key talent, and (6) capturing new business opportunities. Having multiple focal points short circuits the stimulus-response mode to encourage full analysis before addressing complex and changing conditions.

The Success Mindsets Checklist and the Brilliant or Blunder Action Guide serve as primers to develop expertise in collecting and effectively using each Success Mindset. One exercise is to develop a solution from each of the six perspectives. Being able to shift points of view spurs agile thinking. Critical and strategic thinking is not a matter of IQ, motivation, or personal style. Instead, it is a decision to check assumptions, identify and weigh options, and deal with complex or novel issues with an open mind. To paraphrase a popular quote from Albert Einstein, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that was used to create them.

We must shift our thinking, open our filters, confer with different points of view, generate creative solutions, reflect on alternatives, and select the best path forward. Agile thinking means a commitment to acting only after identifying what is possible, applicable, and valuable at this time.

This article was originally published on BizCatalyst360.com

Thinking Strategically, Thinking Critically

Have we lost our ability to think strategically, to analyze, to dissect facts, and make thoughtful, intelligent decisions? This article, How to Encourage Critical Thinking in the Workplace taps some important factors organizations must consider to thrive now and for decades into the future. Author of this article, Paul Crosby, points out, “Despite the demand for critical thinking, several hiring managers believe it’s lacking in the current workforce. However, critical thinking isn’t necessarily a skill that modern employees lack, but rather a skill they seldom use.”

“Thinking strategically is not an unrealistic expectation; neither is it a mind boggling process or age dependent, writes at the Association for Talent Development. What really limits strategic perspective is a reliance on habit, past practice, and limited expectations.” – Mary Lippitt

Here are a few reasons why critical thinking is forgotten in the workplace and how managers can help bring it back. Continue reading How to Encourage Critical Thinking in the Workplace here.

The referenced article, How to Encourage Critical Thinking in the Workplace, was first published at the Business Analyst Blog on August 24, 2017

 

 

Culture’s Impact On Successful Change

Change Management

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

By now we’ve all heard that famous quote attributed to Peter Drucker and have come to recognize its validity. To grasp the powerful connection between culture and strategy, think no further than your last change initiative. Many change initiatives derail shortly after launch due to outright rejection or steady erosion. Change planners overlook and significantly undervalue the power of organizational culture. And, even when change plans implode, few leaders examine how organizational and societal culture contributed to the failure.

Change initiatives frequently fall short and the most cited reason for that failure is culture. Evaluations performed post-change report that up front change planning only considered culture in 24% of the initiatives.

Culture encompasses ideas, values, traditions, and those principles impact social relationships and practices. For change to be fully successful, change goals and culture must be aligned.  Cultural dimensions expand beyond individual organizational traditions to include global cultural distinctions.

Five cultural variables must be considered when crafting a change plan:

  • Power distribution practices
  • Gender assumptions and stereotypes
  • Risk tolerance levels
  • Length of time horizon
  • Indulgence and compliance expectations

Power distribution

Change efforts to flatten an organization may challenge power distribution expectations. Some leaders and societies prefer to employ hierarchy, chain of command and acceptance of unequal authority as positive characteristics.  Eastern cultures may employ greater power distinction by title.  The respect for rank may include having employees stand when their manager enters a room.  An action unlikely to be seen in Western cultures where there is less deference to position and title.

Gender Assumptions

Diversity initiatives might stumble if they deviate significantly from gender and ethnic stereotypes. Assumptions that only males are assertive and achievement oriented combined with the supposition that females alone are cooperative and caring can stifle inclusion initiatives. Silicon Valley, which is largely viewed as progressive, has gender imbalances in the ranks of management.

Risk Orientation

Culture based disparities also surface in terms of risk orientation. Some cultures embrace elevated levels of risk and rapid change believing that risk produces rewards.  While risk avoidance emerges in a desire for consistency and an avoidance of ambiguity to steer clear of danger. This pattern dominates across nationalities and industries. Utilities traditionally shift slowly while IT firms leap swiftly at opportunities. The same risk practices separate nations where the US accepts risk, while some Eastern countries accept risk with more caution.

Time Horizons

Power distinctions, gender and ethnic assumptions, and risk orientation are daunting factors, but even more formidable is a cultural split based on time frames. Some organizations stress the need for long-term planning when others emphasize immediate action. Thirty-year planning horizons are comfortable for some while others prefer an annual plan. The latter assumes that information is changing so fast that the window for accuracy requires short-term planning.   Military planning stretches far beyond that short window of time.  The military-like leaders in China operate using a framework that is decades long.

Indulgence and Restraint

Military organizations also require a level of discipline and strict regulations that constrain social input. Objectives like employee gratification, a level of joy, flexibility, and fun common to many firms are not prevalent in military organizations. Indulgent firms and societies allow relatively free gratification of basic and natural human drives reflected in an effort to enjoy life and have fun. Discipline or restraint cultures ignore gratification to regulate behavior.  Uniform behavior strengthens efficiency, predictability, stability, confidence, and trust. Each viewpoint offers benefits and possesses limitations.

Culture is relevant in planning change. Assessing which view is right or wrong is not germane.  We must operate given the existing culture, which means we must recognize cultural variables. The ready, fire aim approach has not worked in the past and it won’t work in the future. We cannot “plan now and think later” if we want change to be successful.

This article was published at BizCatalyst360.

Future Proof Your Thinking

Stop the World I Want to Get Off opened on Broadway in the 1960s, and decades later the cliché still takes center stage in our quest to maintain the status quo as changes engulf us at a dizzying pace. Adopting an “everything is fine” mentality creates the illusion that we can safely hide, ostrich style, while dynamic changes transform our world. Jack Welch, retired CEO of General Electric, declared this challenge: “If the rate of change within an organization is not equal to or greater than the rate of change surrounding that organization, the organization will die!” Firms that fail to keep pace with change do not thrive.

Success without change is a myth. How many would have imagined that one of the largest lodging companies owns no property (Airbnb), or one of the largest transportation companies owns no vehicles (Uber)? The winds of change are relentless despite our resistance to the speed at which they are advancing. We grasp for the familiar and hold on to what we know. Regardless of our desire to not “mess with success” without change our future evolvement is lost.     

The Mayo Clinic has a well-earned reputation for patient care. Despite accolades and praise, they recognized the value of fixing what is not broken. In 2008, the same year Lehman collapsed, the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees launched an initiative to restructure their programs for adolescent care, reducing the average time to diagnosis illness. They also discovered ways to reduce the use of anesthesia and imaging. Doctors bristled at some of the modifications that impacted their routines, including cardiac surgery practices. However, they saw the handwriting on the wall indicating that without new methodologies, the future would include increasing costs while reimbursements would be reduced.

Mayo Clinic could have proudly accepted their status as one of the top clinics and ignored options to dig deeply and adjust to changing realities.

Instead, they burst through the “we are great” bubble to broaden their perspective and search for new opportunities. As Daniel Kahneman reported in Thinking: Fast or Slow, “We tend to think that what we see is all that there is to see. We adopt blinders to shield us from contradictory information.”  We skim over, or discount, data that does not support our beliefs. We get stuck in the narrow space of present reality instead of creating space for broad innovation.

To counter our tendencies to rely solely on information that matches our assumptions and to depend on information from known sources, we can act to expand narrow thinking. Consider the following options for avoiding confirmation bias:

  1. Allocate time for reflection, analysis, and imagination. The KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) has only an element of truth in it. Dynamic factors and new realities are rarely simple. H. L. Mencken captured this truth by saying, “There is always an easy solution to every human problem” neat, plausible and wrong.” We must go beyond what has always been done if we are to stretch our capacity and secure our future.
  2. Identify “motivated reasoning” where rational analysis twists to substantiate current practices. Retaining existing procedures offers comfort, but blinds us to wiser alternatives. Smart choices mean we must consider new ideas to address the cresting waves of change. Standing still in a quicksand environment is terminal. As Einstein stated, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking we used when we created them.”
  3.  Recognize the importance of asking probing questions. As Dr. E. Edwards Deming remarked, “If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.” Wisdom requires the search for new possibilities and alternatives. Expand your mindsets to see around corners, detect trends, examine implications and identify new opportunities.
  4. Accept the fact that the greatest obstacle to our future is not ignorance, but the illusion that we already know all that we need to know. Greater specialization has produced benefits but it also introduces problems. Specialists often adopt a narrow frame of reference and lose sight of interdependencies embedded in the big picture. We must dig deeper and search more broadly to detect new knowledge and insights by asking what is new, what have we learned and what novel resources or business models should we tap. Mark Twain observed, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It is what we know for sure that just ain’t so.
  5. Resist peer pressure and the temptation to go along with the crowd. We may become caught up by enthusiasm for a new initiative but step lightly and don’t just go with the flow, because group-think usually conceals flaws. For a secure future, go outside the established parameters and strategically consider all mindsets to fully understand alternatives, risks, and opportunities.

We cannot stop the world–and we should not. Our future lies in embracing possibility thinking, adopting new mindsets, and leveraging change instead of watching from the sidelines. We can learn to see events as they are, address our mental traps, apply critical thinking practices and commit to casting aside status quo thinking in favor of proactive wisdom. The future is where we will spend the rest of our lives. We must study to understand trends that position us for continual success.

This article was first published at BizCatalyst360.

First Things First: Tips to move you forward

When you have a to-do list the size of Montana, how do you tackle it? Do you have a fail-safe practice that garners favorable results consistently? Today’s tasks seem to multiply yet the hours in each day are stuck at 24. These tips can help get you centered and on track toward getting things done. What else can you add to help readers who struggle with too much to do? This could be the help you’ve been looking for.

When I whittle down my To-Do list, it feels terrific. However, the joy disguises the unpleasant fact that those finished items may not have been the ones most important to complete. On a list, everything appears equally important and it is easier to tackle a simple or non-essential task. In my pressing desire to get something done, I frequently overlook what is critical, what is outdated, or what has lost its importance. I justify diversions as motivational momentum to keep going, but that’s not what should dictate task selection.

Too often the time I spend on minor tasks sidetracks me from doing what is most important. I accept admonitions of “keeping your eye on the prize” or Stephen R. Covey’s (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) to do “first things first.” Yet, I can procrastinate. While Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind can decide to think about things tomorrow, I should not. The pace of change in the 1860s was leisurely.   Certainly, this is not the case today. Now, time matters since windows of opportunity close rapidly and risks mount. Quick response to critical issues is a necessity. Would you want a doctor to address a patient’s broken finger before attending to a blocked windpipe? Priorities and sequencing action are critical. Triaging a situation is not only good medical practice, the discipline works for all of us.

We all need to reassess what must be done first to ensure delivery of the desired result. This means resisting the temptation to quickly dash off a response without a full analysis. United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz’s, first reaction to a passenger being dragged off a plane on April 9, 2017, was incomplete, insensitive, disrespectful and later regretted. He damaged the brand and spurred Congressional hearings.

Consider the following triage concepts for your To-Do list:
  1. Confirm information and assumptions to prioritize what must be done first. Not everything is a number one priority.
  2. Take a proactive role to prevent significant issues from escalating into a crisis. Early intervention pays dividends.
  3. Recognize recurrent firefights and search for a cause, rather than repeatedly addressing symptoms. While it feels good to put out fires, preventing them is much wiser.
  4. Accept that you cannot successfully multi-task challenging issues. Critical issues deserve your full attention and creative thinking.
  5. Know what to cut from your To-Do list and challenge the necessity of new tasks. Many issues are mundane and should be delegated or canceled.
  6. Concentrate on adding value for the long-term. Attention to customers must come before busy work or administrative trivia.
  7. Employ out-of-the-box thinking and mental agility. Today’s problems cannot be solved by yesterday’s solutions.
  8. What would you add, that has worked well for you?
There are only 24 hours in a day, so use them wisely. Concentrate on achieving your goals and the actions that move you toward them. Learn to say no to wasteful pursuits and distractions so that your time is optimized. You will reduce stress and achieve better outcomes.

This article was first published by BizCatalyst360.

INTRODUCING: Brilliant or Blunder Action Guide

INTRODUCING … Brilliant or Blunder Action Guide (2017) the learning manual for putting Success Mindsets to work for your organization. This recently published companion to the original text, Brilliant or Blunder: Navigating Uncertainty, Opportunity, (2014) brings detail and clarity for implementation of the methodology and processes unique to developing Success Mindsets.

Businesses today are under pressure to make better decisions, and make them quickly against a backdrop of dynamically changing environments. Leaders are called upon to confront challenges that challenge their ability to deliver results. Breakthroughs surface from this new framework built on situational mastery. To confront changing realities, leaders must learn to think critically and become mentally agile. Do we need smarter thinking? Our dynamic work environments offer new opportunities, and new risks, that were largely unknown just a few decades past. Clear analysis is more vital than ever.

The Brilliant or Blunder Action Guide comes at the request of professors who adopted the original book as the text for their courses, and by leaders who needed a manual to aide in implementing Success Mindsets in their organizations.  It outlines the steps to master situational awareness, critical analysis and breakthrough thinking to ensure that the right decision is made at the right time for the right results. Both Brilliant or Blunder and the companion guide are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all your favorite book sites.

Please visit www.brilliantorblunder.com to get a free chapter and watch a one minute video on the Success Mindsets Framework. For further information, please contact Mary Lippitt, Founder, Enterprise Management Ltd. via email info@enterprisemgt.com.

 

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/

Hidden Figures Reveal How To Be A Continuous Learner

By Dr. Mary Lippitt | February 10, 2017learning

The movie Hidden Figures has justifiably won acclaim not only for the story and acting. Octavia Spencer’s portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan also depicted the need to keep her skills up to date. She realized her job as a mathematician was likely in jeopardy when NASA installed an early IBM computer. She saw the handwriting on the wall and prepared for her and her staff’s future by learning FORTRAN.    When programmers were needed, she and her staff transitioned seamlessly into new higher paying positions.

We can also be proactive and prepare for our future by:

  1. Scanning and staying alert to trends both in and outside the organization and discipline. If you are a professional driver, what do drones, driverless cars, and automation mean for your job?
  2. Observing trends in your organization. Who was promoted and why were they promoted? What career paths have worked for others? Will greater specialization or general managerial skills be in more demand?
  3. Finding mentors who can serve as reality testing sounding board and source of career guidance. In addition, those outside your chain of command cab share their experience and suggest new paths.
  4. Proposing improvements to existing processes or practices. Displaying initiative and creativity increases visibility, while also expanding your skill set.
  5. Building a professional network as well as a personal network. Join your professional association to learn what skills are being sought. In addition, professional associations have job boards that obtain early identification of opportunities.
  6. Preparing a developmental plan for the next six months. Record your goals and milestones to increases the likelihood they will be accomplished. Update it regularly with your manager.
  7. Seeking honest feedback from peers, managers, customers and direct reports. Feedback not only can reveal our blind spots but it lets others know of your interest in improvement.
  8. Attending developmental special events, seminars, and workshops. Valuable nuggets can be gained from both topic and participant exchanges.
  9. Learning from your mistakes as much as your successes. The only failure is life is not to learn from a disappointment or misstep.
  10. Developing your strategic thinking ability. While daily pressures consume our schedules, we may overlook the importance of planning for our future.

The title, Hidden Figures, refers both to uncovering new space flight data and the racial bias that concealed talented people. And it also reveals the importance of recognizing emerging trends and preparing for our future. After all the future is where we will all be spending the rest of our lives.

First Published by: https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/hidden-figures-reveal-how-to-be-a-continuous-learner/

People Make Up Their Own Minds At Elections And In Organizations

By Dr. Mary Lippitt | January 30, 2017

Winning support requires more than packaged positions and slogans. Building a ground swell or promising does not equate to a strong conviction. Emotions ebb as well as escalate based on personal assessments.

Persuasion tactics such as promising a prosperous outcome, warning of impending disaster, stoking excitement at rallies and calling on loyalty are flawed tactics. People do not blindly accept a message at face value. They scrutinize the content to see whether it is beneficial or not. And, repeating a message over and over again silences dissent but it does not win agreement. Leaders need to shift from employing persuasion tactics to practicing influence. Influence is based on knowing what the audience wants.

Influencing concentrates on the audience’s wishes, rather than what the leader seeks. Addressing audience concerns and struggles fuels enthusiastic support. The 2016 election illustrates the power of influence over persuasion. Donald Trump highlighted supporters concerns and promised to rapidly change deliver on change. Secretary Hillary Clinton’s well-crafted message focused on past accomplishments, her opponent’s weaknesses, her potentially historic candidacy and offered consistency. She misread the desire for jobs and the dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Polished delivery is secondary to delivering a resonating message. To gain committed support a leader must know what is top of mind. Political candidates confront a multitude of factions but focus groups, interviews, feedback and town hall meetings disclose their concerns.

The ability to influence stems from weaving these issues into a compelling message that sways thinking. At times, simultaneously satisfying all concerns is not possible. However, recognizing a viewpoint as valid and agreeing to address it at some point in the future wins support. Breaking the glass ceiling was not as important as boosting employment. Secretary Clinton won the popular vote but her goal was to win the White House.

Leaders need to listen to audience concerns before speaking to them. Knowing what your audience thinks beats charisma and showmanship every time.

First Published at:  https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/people-make-up-their-own-minds-at-elections-and-in-organizations/