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Collaboration High Performing Teams Influence Leadership Personal development Strategy

6 tips for optimal collaboration

What does it mean to collaborate? Dictionary definition:  the action of working with someone to produce something.

Collaboration has become overused, poorly implemented. Leading to collaboration fatigue!

Here are my 6 tips for optimal collaboration.

  1. Define the problem statement as a group. Ensure everyone is aligned on the statement: we all love getting to the solution however, this is unhelpful and can limit creativity.
  2. Educate on the impacts of the problem and why its important. Data is key to presenting the facts of the impact. Don’t assume your audience understands the context, history or challenges the problem represents. The more time you spend here the better the creativity re the results.
  3. Black hatting is a great way to ensure all voices are heard especially people who are not convinced about the problem and reluctant to work on a solution. The purpose is take the role of all the internal and external stakeholders and role play their position on the matter, including any risks or opportunities
  4. Ensure all parties that are impacted are included in the collaboration. The last thing you want is having to bring someone on the journey when a recommendation is made.  
  5. Don’t be afraid to lead. I am often asked why are you doing this? In the absence of anyone owning, it is impacting my team and I therefore I am happy to lead to find a resolution. You can lead as an individual contributor. Regardless of where the process lands, leading change is critical and very fulfilling.
  6. Have fun. Get to know each other. Don’t launch into a session, socialise with each other for the first 5 mins.

Have fun Collaborating!

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Entrepreneurship Leadership Start up Strategy

In the kingdom of the blind

The favorite saying of my boss of 15 years and mentor Des Miller. I find myself quoting this saying more often these days and each time I recall the many amazing lessons I learnt from Des.

All to often business tries to many activities at once, leading to nothing succeeding. Focus and dominating a particular market, really allows excellent execution.

A few weeks ago I was speaking to someone I competed with in business nearly a decade ago and he recalled the outstanding success for the product and market, he said he would not even compete, even though he worked for a gorilla business, as the business I worked for owned the domain.

In the telco sector there are few that own a niche. Regional players, sector players ie hotels, schools and one that specialised in 1-50 employees in business and nailed the proposition. In a market where Managed service providers and Information technology providers are owning the customer, the challenge for the pure carriers is clear. Again the lesson is relevant: What piece of the kingdom are you going to own?

In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

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Coaching Influence Intrepenuership Leadership Personal development Strategy

‘I have been asking for this change in the business for two years? ‘

What does this statement say about you?

Way more than you think! Loser not being able to influence to get an outcome. Give up to easily. Victim

Since moving to corporate getting anything done, is infinitely harder than in a small and medium business.

The reason: many more stakeholders with many different agendas. Unless you have the patience, combined with excellent influencing skills and stamina to see it through, you could be the person making the statement ‘I have been asking for this business change for two years? ‘

Is it worth driving for the change? Yes you have your values and none of us come to work to do a bad job. We all want to make difference. So how do you go about making the change?

  1. Really clearly define what you want to change. Put it in simple terms. Test the messaging with peers and team members
  2. Use examples of how it will have an impact, who it will impact
  3. Business case to demonstrate one of the following : revenue increase, cost saving or risk mitigation. If capital is required then their are extra steps re: budget etc depending on budget cycle.
  4. Finally the risks and mitigation strategies for each risk. Clearly lay out and don’t miss any. Be open to receiving more!
  5. Once you have the above nailed, then you need to go to your stakeholders and take them through steps 1-4. Solicit feedback, enhance any of the fours steps with the feedback and continue as you go stakeholder to stakeholder to gain support. Don’t miss any stakeholders. Look who is on the leadership team, do you have them covered?
  6. When someone says “No” they wont support, deep dive on the why? fully understand why they are opposed. If you uncover reasons that you should not proceed, then you are wiser, you can move on. If you don’t agree with their views then proceed to get more feedback, ensure the non supporters risks are captured and you have clear mitigation as this wont be the last time it will be raised.
  7. Once you have done the rounds and you have adequate support,( if not you need to rethink the strategy), take your boss through 1-4 with all the feedback and then all the names of people you have spoken with and who is supporting your recommended change. Agree the next step of approval and implementation.

The above could take significant time, but it is always worthwhile. Being passionate about a better future is contagious and a great leadership trait.

This lesson I am constantly relearning. My personal challenge is flawlessly executing the above every time, as once I meet the person who say No, once I hear this I stop dead in my tracks, especially from more senior leaders and start to reflect on the request, and then eventually I put it in the drawer for another day. With experience and benefit of hindsight I realise that is not what the business needs, they need the challenger mindset and finding support is not far away if you are prepared to look.

Don’t be the victim saying “been asking for this business change for 2 years”. Take action.

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Book Quotes Coaching Entrepreneurship Influence Personal development Strategy

The Challenger Spirt

This book was given to me by one of my team. I love reading and learning, so there is no better gift.

challenger2_smaller

The Challenger Spirit book written by Khurshed Dehnugara and Claire Genkai Breeze, is a book written before its time. The key to being a challenger is ‘does it have to be like this?’ https://relume.co.uk/the-challenger-spirit/

Claire starts with two lasting influences on her life ‘your work is your love made visible’ by Khalil Gibran and the 5th century Philo ‘be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle’

The book is full of gems and sections of questions to ask yourself, very thought provoking. The highlights for me:

  • Our sales teams are service oriented with up selling and cross sale being a spin off from a conversation rather than the purpose of the conversation.
  • Establishment leaders v’s Challenger Leaders: Establishment leaders have four blindfolds: Arrogance, Avoidance, Agreement and Antagonism. The book describes each one and how it shows up.
  • Challenger organisations and their leaders are more likely to fail when they imitate rather than disturb their establishment competitors. They fail when they default to what is already known to be successful.
  • The process of constant feedback and alteration in your brain only begins to slow down in your eight decade
  • Once you have made some positive and bold choices created your dream together and engaged people in it, the uncertainty of the environment quickly becomes much easier to navigate

The chapter on growing old disgracefully is all about staying lean and hungry. And what good looks like: say what you believe regardless of political implications. The way you deliver it is the key to success as I have learnt over the years in corporate.

I have always been a challenger, in every aspect of my life. I live by the saying “if it not scary its not worth doing’ and my purpose is all about challenging others to operate outside their comfort zones.  

This book is all about how to challenge well and even when the norms of the establishment look like a better way to get on in your career, staying true to what you believe and your values is the right thing to do and always deliver the best outcome for your company.

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High Performing Teams Personal development Strategy

Strategy: how do you know you are on the right track?

When do you know strategy is working? When all roles in the business can articulate the goal and how they are getting there. At Salesforce Marc Benioff used the V2MOM https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2013/04/how-to-create-alignment-within-your-company.html to align individual and team goals to strategy. This method is the best I have seen in alignment in an organisation

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With Strategy, there are four scenarios that play out in a any organisation.

1. strategy from the top is non existent or is not delivering, so teams create their own.

2. Strategy from the top is interpreted in so many ways that teams are disjointed, failing to align to deliver the outcomes.

3. As of 1, but results from one section leads to strategy formation from the top, creating alignment and delivery of results

4. Strategy set and goal clear, driving teams to work together to get the outcome.

The sad truth is that many organisations try lots of tactical activity delivering nothing, it does not need to be this way

How do you know your strategy is on the right track?

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Book Quotes Career planning Entrepreneurship Influence Leadership Strategy

Your a CEO of business working for the owners of the business and you are ready to move on.

Your a CEO of business with non execs that own the business and you are ready to move on, as you feel stifled. You love the business and you believe the business has great potential. You are restrained by the founders and owners, you are ready to do something else.

Owners who create, built and grow the business after many years decide to step back due to retirement, other business opportunities, personal circumstance and appoint CEO. The CEO is limited by the law of lid. First chapter of John Maxwell’s book on the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership  https://www.amazon.com/21-Irrefutable-Laws-Leadership-Anniversary/dp/078528837621 irrefutable. Often the CEO is restricted in where he/she takes the business due to the founders expectations, thinking and interference in the daily business.

Over time the CEO becomes frustrated and look outside for a new career opportunity, when the answer could be to look at alternative ownership structures for the business. The owners may want to sell out, realise their investment and they are looking for exit, as CEO you can facilitate by an industry buy out, private equity sale or a management buy out.

Each needs a thorough understanding of the market and the opportunity for the buyer. It’s a time to call on your network for assistance, advice and introductions. Once you have researched the possibilities, then approach the owners for their support.

The worst that can happen is the owners are not interested in selling business, the only thing you have lost is time. On the other hand if they are keen you are now running your own business.

The alternative to leaving may very well be the best opportunity to back yourself and give back to the owners.

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Personal development Strategy

Running with the baton v’s ping pong

Companies use the terms CX, NPS, CSAT , but unless your company employees run with the baton, customer experience will always be poor.

Customers hate being passed around from person to person, re explaining their needs. They want to have some one run it to ground to get the outcome for their Customer.

The converse is ping pong, where you get handed from one person to the other, no ownership, just someone trying to move you into someone else’s queue. The lack of ownership or willingness to find the answer, leads to hours of frustration and no outcome and appalling CX.

How do you build a culture of running with the baton?

1. Recognise great behaviour by calling out individuals demonstrating the traits

2. Build it into your values and call it out

3. Build a knowledge base to accelerate finding the answers

4. Be careful not to create a band aid, ensure the root cause is identified and an owner assigned to fix the underlying process.

5. Make sure the customer is updated regularly. Even if there is no news. Better to check in regularly than leave the customer guessing

Next time you deal with a frustrated customer run with the baton.

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Entrepreneurship Influence Intrepenuership Leadership Personal development Sponsor Strategy

Opportunity to work abroad

working abroad (2)At age 44 I had the opportunity to work abroad with an Australian company that I had worked for for 4 years. I set up the European arm of Quofore a mobiles apps solution for Consumer Goods field representatives and we had done very well, so I was invited to come to Australia and become Managing Director for APAC.

Personally I have grown as a result, especially the opportunity to expand in to Asia, where my team landed a large contract with Unilever in China for 10,000 mobile users across 2000 cities. Ten years on, this is the success I am most proud of.  The reason:

  • Setting up a business in China of which I am extremely appreciative of all the advice and support from Austrade.
  • Delivering one of the most successful ROI projects for Unilever globally
  • Delivering a complex project in less than 10 months.

In Quofore I had worked with the global CEO and CFO for over 15 years, I had extreme trust and I was treated always exceptionally well.

Since joining corporate which I did just over 7 years ago I have had similar opportunities. In July last year I was given an opportunity to drive a new segment of the business, something I had been doing as a side project. My new boss backed me gave me a team and said there is no one more driven than you to make it work. This opportunity was to grow a $300 million business from 0 in the next three years.

I was amazed at the number of people who said to me, why are you taking on this opportunity you had a far more prestigious role before managing a team looking after the larger accounts.  Seven months on those same people, now get it. Proving yourself through taking calculated risks that are high profile is a great way to get noticed.  I am indebted to my boss for supporting me and creating the opportunity.

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Collaberation Influence Leadership Personal development Strategy

Its within our control to fix it

All to often we get caught up in why are management not fixing this! No matter where you are in an organisation you can influence an outcome. Everyday we are held back from success, but often the things that are holding us back are not clearly laid out, for others to understand or to solve or we dont see it as our responsibility to resolve. Living in hope that someone will find a solution.

Hope is not a strategy. What we walk pass is what we accept. So how do we address? Firstly understanding the problem we are trying to solve:

1. Problem statement.

2. Get a cross section of people together to discuss

3. Brainstorm solutions to the problem.

4. Agree on the best solution.

This is a far better approach than coming up with the solution when there is no recognition or understanding of the problem you are solving. The other benefit is the owner of the solution emerges. No matter how many times you go through the process the owner always emerges, as people naturally want to help and always want to be delivering outcomes that elevate pain.

An example: a team of account managers are dealing with many questions from their customers a day. Due to the newness of the business, many questions are being asked for the first time, and then again and again by different customers. The time management and CX is very poor, as the time it takes to deal with each request is not always straight forward. The problem statement ” How do we remove the burden of multiple questions from customers to Account Managers, increase the consistency and timeliness of responses, to free account managers up to focus on driving initiatives and enablement of their customers”

Because this problem statement is broad, having a cross section of staff across the business, enables solutions to be sought and the owner emerges.

STOP saying: thats not my teams issue, as it is because it impacts your team. The team that own the solution often are unaware of the issue or size of the issue, so framing the problem statement and finding solutions together is far more effective.

It’s within our control to fix it.

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Collaberation Influence Leadership Personal development Strategy

Why context is so important in delivering a message

My coach always reminded me “context equals meaning”. Without context you message is lost and we leave the audience confused.

Context is so important in conversation and in delivering a message. I observe it in others but rarely identify when I am not doing it! It struck me when seeing one of the leaders from our company talking about having the critical conversation the conversations we avoid, it was a great message to leaders, but it lacked authenticity and context as there was no personal story. 

From this I learned  what was missing from my presentations. When delivering the vision for my team for the year ahead at a recent kick off I used a story to describe a customer who has mortgaged their house to set up their business, the stress of a growing payroll and the responsibility of collecting enough cash to ensure all your staff get paid, they have a billing issue that drags on for 6 months and the stress of this large bill which is incorrect. The message: Take extra special care with your customers, get the wider team involved to resolve critical issues for the customer. The feedback from the team was incredible, they said no one has made them think about the customers perspective and what they are dealing with.

Key learning is always spend more time on the scene setting, background and why you want the audience to listen, all these give context to your message.