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Exploring leadership, management, innovation, and technology issues and trends; impacting associations & non-profit organizations in the digital age.
Curated by Don Dea
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Impact Blindness

Impact Blindness: “Many organizations lack mechanisms to identify, measure, and manage the demands that initiatives place on the managers and employees who are expected to do the work.”
Multiplier Effects: “Because functions and units often set their priorities and launch initiatives in isolation, they may not understand the impact on neighboring functions and units.”
Political Logrolling: “I will support your initiatives if you support mine.”
Unfunded Mandates: “Executive teams often task their organizations with meeting important goals without giving managers and their teams the necessary resources to accomplish them.”
Band-Aid Initiatives: “When projects are launched to provide limited fixes to significant problems, the result can be a proliferation of initiatives, none of which may adequately deal with root causes.”
Cost Myopia: “Another partial fix that can exacerbate overload is cutting people without cutting the related work.”
Initiative Inertia: “Companies often lack the means (and the will) to stop existing initiatives. Sometimes that’s because they have no ‘sunset’ process for determining when to close things down.”
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Would You Know How To Survive a Cultural Earthquake? 

Team goals must be crystal clear and fully aligned
Everyone on the team must agree on where the team is headed and what everyone is working towards.

2. Team strategies must be consistent
If one part of the organization is pulling left while another part is pulling right, the team won’t get anywhere.
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Strategy | digitalNow |
“Strategies fail from within,” according to Porter. The entire notion of traditional strategy, one that rigorously assesses unique choices on both the supply and demand side, collapses in many organizations. No strategy means no direction, a plight that accidentally snowballs the number of initiatives a company takes on. “The essence of strategy is about choices,
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4 Powerful Lines Leaders Navigate To Be Effective 

4 Powerful Lines Leaders Navigate To Be Effective  | digitalNow |
Leaders love starting lines, and they love finish lines.
Starting lines provide energy and excitement. They represent the launch of a new project or initiative. They represent take off, lift off and the possibilities of a new leadership adventure.

Leaders love starting lines.

But if you’re a leader, you love finish lines too. Finish lines provide that tremendous sense of accomplishment. They represent a goal being accomplished, a task being completed or a vision being fulfilled.

Leaders love finish lines.

But often overlooked in the excitement of a starting line or the thrill of a finish line, are the important lines in between. Effective leaders know that the battle is often won in the less glamorous “in between” lines.

1. The Vision-drift line
Teams may bolt out of the starting line with crystal clarity as to the purpose and direction. But sometimes they can veer off course.
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Great Leadership: Enduring Uncertainty

Great Leadership: Enduring Uncertainty | digitalNow |
Go on admit it. You’re busy, right? Busier than last year. Busier probably than five years ago. In fact, you’re busier than you can ever remember being. You’re now so busy most people couldn’t even begin to understand how busy you are. And you don’t have time to tell them anyway. 

There was a time when life was slower. It all used to be so certain. You could plan. You could predict. You could be safe. Well, how’s that working out for ya after 9/11, the banking crisis, Brexit, and Trump? It’s a constant crisis.

The characteristic of all leadership in the 21st century is now the speed at which it needs to respond to crises as well as doing their day job. Burnt-out leaders end up with never-ending ‘to-do’ lists, and that’s not really their job. Of course, they need to do something; everyone knows that. Leaders though are more than that. They have to ‘be’ something. They need to represent values because that’s what permits a collective identity. If you don’t have that, you can’t have leaders.

Try this test. Ask someone to describe their parents. Usually, they respond that their parent is loving or caring or patient or dynamic or ambitious. Now ask them to describe themselves.

Usually, they say they go to work or take their kids to school or help them with their homework or put them to bed. What’s the difference? The latter description focuses on what the person does – primarily how they manage things. The former though is quite distinctive.  It focuses on who people are. That’s the essence of leadership – who you are. The values matter.
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Leaders with Humility

Leaders with Humility | digitalNow |
The following are their areas for growth:

I must be timely in responding to calls, emails, and texts
I must learn the art of having the difficult conversations and address problems, conflict, and difficult employees promptly
I tend to check my iPhone in meetings and conversations
I sometimes forget what I have committed to and do not follow through
At times, my tone of voice and or my facial expression will intimidate others
I have not connected with colleagues outside my specific area of responsibility
If I was more organized I would be more efficient
I need to ask for input, then prepare agendas and distribute several days in advance of meetings – and distribute minutes the day after meetings
I tend to be late for meetings
I can be too emotional, can have a short fuse
I need to boost my self-confidence and contribute my ideas
The Romero Team's comment, November 28, 2018 7:51 PM
This is one good read
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How Leaders Solve the Biggest Problem-Solving Problem 

s this a problem to be solved, or a tension to be managed?
Before you decide to tackle whatever crisis has landed on your desk, first discern if indeed you really can solve it. It could be a tension that must be managed.

At the 2010 Global Leadership Summit, Andy Stanley unpacked this vital distinction. As Stanley pointed out, not every difficult situation that lands on your desk is a problem you will ever be able to solve. Some of these situations are tensions you must learn to manage.

2. Is this my problem?
Once you’ve determined that the latest crisis really is a problem, and not a tension to be managed, next figure out if it really is your problem.

At the 2004 Global Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels interviewed USC president Steven Sample, and asked him how he responds when a problem is presented to him.

“The first thing I do,” Sample answered, “is to figure out if this is really my problem!”

You might be tackling a problem that really doesn’t belong to you.

3. Just how big is this problem?
As I outlined in an earlier post, one of the first jobs of leadership is to determine the appropriate scale of the problem that has just landed. “Is this a big deal? A little deal? Somewhere in between?”

Always figure out just what the scale and scope of this problem really is. And put the appropriate energy and resources towards it.

Here’s the point. Today, and every day, problems will land on your plate. The cumulative effect can be overwhelming.

But if you’ll apply this three-question clarifying process, you’ll be amazed just how much more effective your problem solving efforts really can be.
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How to Keep Unconscious Bias from Sabotaging Customer Experience Success 

How to Keep Unconscious Bias from Sabotaging Customer Experience Success  | digitalNow |
Here are two commons biases and some ways to overcome them:

Similarity Bias
Our brains are wired to categorize and organize things. One thing we categorize is people – in particular, whether people are like us, or not like us – vestiges from a time when making the mistake of trying to hang out with a saber-tooth tiger instead of your family could be the last thing you do! We can be unconsciously motivated to seek out and spend more time with people like us – “like us” meaning the same type of role, hobbies, focus, style of dress, way of thinking, etc.

What does this mean for CX?

In the CX arena, this can mean you inadvertently end up working with the same cast of characters over and over. It’s easy and it feels comfortable. You feel like you’re on the same page. Conversations are effortless. You reach agreement quickly.

But you’re probably not getting the variety of inputs you need to get the innovative or breakthrough ideas you want. You’re probably not really kicking the tires and challenging your thinking of what is possible.

So what can you do?

With a team: Check out your team representation – does it include people from all steps of the customer journey from awareness to consideration, to purchase, to support? Or is it a cozy group of people who “get you”? Branch out. Include representation from the full journey. And if you’re feeling brave, invite those people who tend to disagree with you. They will have different ideas and ways of thinking.

On your own: Assess your advice circle. At a recent TELUS leadership forum, Harvard Professor Francesca Gino shared the following exercise:

Note down the name of 5-10 people you typically go to for advice.
Now, give them a score of 1-5, where 5 is “a lot like me” and 1 is “not at all like me”.
Take the average. That is your score.

Score = 1-3: Looks like you tend to work with people who think differently. Great!

Score 4-5: Looks like you could use some variety. Look for more people less like you to ask for advice. They don’t have to be people who actively disagree with you (although they are likely a treasure trove of different thinking!). Consider people who do a different job, or tend to work/think differently. For example, people who compared to you are more (or less): analytical, social, process driven, creative, skeptical etc.

Risk Aversion Bias
You may also hear this talked about as “loss aversion bias” (bad outcomes have more weight than good). Our brains like to keep us safe (again, a vestige from the days when being chased by a saber-tooth tiger was still a likely event!) so our detection systems (unconscious of course!) for risk are more sensitive than the ones that gauge reward or positive outcomes. It’s not your imagination, you are wired to pay more attention to the negative things. They are more attention-grabbing to your brain.

What does this mean for CX?

It means those big bold ideas that would help you leapfrog past your competition and into the “head and
Fabienne Fayad's curator insight, November 24, 2018 8:02 AM
Very good insights on our Bias and how it is affecting our success
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Show Your Team How To Truly Think Outside The Box

What Is 'The Box?'

In order to think outside the proverbial box, we first need to better understand what the “box” is. The box is actually a set of behaviors people engage in — behaviors that limit imagination and creativity. These behaviors form the “walls” of the box, and there are typically four:

1. Blaming: The tendency to blame others when things go wrong.

2. Complaining about problems: The tendency to think in terms of problems, and to complain about those problems.

3. Defensiveness: The tendency to be on guard and to take a defensive posture when under stress.

4. Closed-mindedness: Thinking of yourself as an expert, and a lack of interest in new or different points of view.
The Romero Team's comment, November 22, 2018 8:22 AM
great post!
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Why You Can’t Innovate 

Why You Can’t Innovate  | digitalNow |
Uncertainty = Opportunity

One of the most consistent correlations I’ve observed, when it comes to breakthrough innovation, is between uncertainty and opportunity. When uncertainty goes up so does opportunity–the opportunity to change, to reevaluate, to build new markets, new behaviors, new businesses. It is in the midst of uncertainty that we most often find the courage and the fortitude to reinvent and re-architect our businesses and our lives.

That’s why there is such a legacy of companies that were founded in times high economic uncertainty. A Kaufman study from 2009 found that “more than half of the companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list were launched during a recession or bear market, along with nearly half of the firms on the 2008 Inc. list of America’s fastest-growing companies.”

So, why the correlation?
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Seven Verbs that Define Innovation Leaders

1. Focus.  They focus on the long term, on the strategic objectives and vision of the business. They are well aware of short term pressures, but they do not get consumed by them. They are committed to the long-term survival and success of the organization. They focus on the needs of customers and employees.

2. Listen.  They are smart and self-confident but modest enough to know that they do not have all the answers. They are always keen to learn. They ask great questions and challenge employees, customers and outsiders. Then they listen.

3. Tell.  Great leaders communicate by asking questions, by listening, by discussing and by telling. They tell people about the vision for the business. They tell people what a great job they are doing. They tell them that it is OK to fail. And they tell stories about people who display the values and behaviors they want to see. They are usually great story tellers.

4. Empower.  They trust their best employees to come up with great ideas and to implement them. They delegate and supervise. They grow new leaders by empowering people to try new things and to develop skills and experience. Talented people are motivated and inspired by leaders who trust and empower them.

5. Experiment.  They do not trust in conventional wisdom, theories or spreadsheets. They trust empirical results. They believe in getting out there and trying new things. They encourage people to experiment and try new concepts by building prototypes and testing ideas in the marketplace.

6. Welcome. Innovative leaders welcome risk – it is part of the game. They welcome and celebrate success. Funnily enough they also welcome failure; they treat it as a learning experience. They welcome technology and new ways of working. They welcome people – whether old friends or strangers. Above all they are open-minded and welcoming to fresh ideas.

7. Decide. These innovators are open to discuss and consider different options. Then they move swiftly to a decision. They might have only half the information that they would like to have but they are prepared to move forward and commit to a course of action. Often the chosen option proves wrong. In this case the leader of innovation is big enough to say, ‘I admit I got that one wrong.’ They quickly move to correct things and set a new course.

Many leaders and managers utter fine words about how important innovation is, how important their people are and how they have great plans for the future.  But ultimately leaders are judged by their deeds and not by their words.  The successful leaders of innovation are those who take deliberate calculated actions to drive the business forward.
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The Careful Art of Problem Solving 

Creativity can’t be forced through conscious effort, but comes together through careful observation, mental sifting, and the percolation of ideas. The drive for ‘right first time’ only results in ‘wrong every time’ when it comes to addressing problems.

It goes beyond approach to expectation. Some problems aren’t even there to be solved. Some of them never end. Sometimes it is more important to understand them and to let them iterate. Challenges are there to be overcome, but problems need to be accommodated.

Challenges can be demanding, but the ability to cope with them is really just commercial table stakes. True competitive advantage lies not in the ability of the business to deal with its regular difficulties, but in how well it can manage its exceptional ones.
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A pioneering scientist explains ‘deep learning’

A pioneering scientist explains ‘deep learning’ | digitalNow |
AI goes back to 1956 in the United States, where engineers decided they would write a computer program that would try to imitate intelligence. Within AI, a new field grew up called machine learning. Instead of writing a step-by-step program to do something — which is a traditional approach in AI — you collect lots of data about something that you’re trying to understand. For example, envision you’re trying to recognize objects, so you collect lots of images of them. Then, with machine learning, it’s an automated process that dissects out various features, and figures out that one thing is an automobile and the other is a stapler.

Machine learning is a very large field and goes way back. Originally, people were calling it “pattern recognition,” but the algorithms became much broader and much more sophisticated mathematically. Within machine learning are neural networks inspired by the brain, and then deep learning. Deep learning algorithms have a particular architecture with many layers that flow through the network. So basically, deep learning is one part of machine learning and machine learning is one part of AI.
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New study: Culture, not technology, determines digital transformation success

CEOs must assume the role of ‘chief evangelist’ of digital transformation to persuasively, persistently and convincingly articulate and communicate the “why” behind each initiative and champion changes, to create positive business impacts.

Digital transformation only succeeds if it’s rooted in behavioral change

The study identified that teams will only embrace change if they understand why transformation is needed and if they have faith in their leaders.

Interestingly, 100% of C-suite level executives agreed that digitalization is the “new normal”, with a universal belief that embracing digital transformation was urgent and critical for the organization to survive and thrive.

Furthermore, 80% of C-Suite interviews highlighted the importance of purposefully focusing on ‘people aspects’ during digital transformation journeys, suggesting an emphasis on the importance of inclusiveness.

“Readiness” was perceived to transcend well beyond technological readiness into the realm of organizational culture, new mindsets and leader behaviors. The “readier” the organization was perceived to be for digital transformation, the greater the need was felt for cultural change and for embracing conducive leadership behaviors.

Open, flexible and agile organizations are better able to innovate

Each transformation journey is unique, but the research suggests common cultural attributes for those who are successful – openness, flexibility and agility. Today’s winners are focused on incremental change, flatter structures and experimentation. 71% of mid-level respondents acknowledged that they needed to adopt new leadership behaviors including agility, risk-taking, accountability, leading change and digital adoption.

The creation of small, agile, nimble-footed teams that are highly empowered to drive digital transformation, as opposed to making large-scale enterprise-wide changes that could be intimidating for employees, is a preferred implementation tactic. However, only 41% of those surveyed believed they had the skills that are necessary for the digital age, suggesting there is a pressing need to increase access to training to plug the ever-present skills gap.

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The Big Lies of Strategy 

The Big Lies of Strategy  | digitalNow |
I have come to the conclusion that strategy is actually about a set of five choices that must be made:

1. What is our winning aspiration?
2. Where will we play?
3. How will we win?
4. What capabilities must be in place?
5. What management systems are required?
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Ten Things Great Leaders Do

Own and live company values
Communicate openly and early
Inspire people to reach higher
Own their mistakes
Recognize big wins, small wins and hard work
Trust people
Make the right decision not the popular decision
Add value to their teams, helping them to succeed
Have the courage to be transparent and visible
Take care of people
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How to handle an antagonistic coworker

Strategic takeaways
There is no single approach to this type of interpersonal conundrum that transcends context. Your employer, your position, your colleagues, and your own personality will affect how you respond to the Tom in your office. But that needn’t stop us from observing a few useful, generalizable lessons from the responses and ratings we received for this exercise:

The responses with the highest average ratings lean toward the conciliatory. Few people, it appears, think that meeting aggression with aggression is an effective solution for this kind of problem.
Each of the top three responses makes a point of flattering Tom, subverting his impression that you (and others) thought he performed poorly.
Taking the opportunity to solicit Tom’s advice, which is itself a flattering gesture, is on average an effective element to include in a response.
Offering advice can also be highly effective, but research tells us it has to be done judiciously.
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It's Okay to Say No at Work

It's Okay to Say No at Work | digitalNow |
Up and running for a few weeks now, Sarah has impressed her peers and senior employees with her insight and work ethic. This morning, she’s got several requests in her inbox:

from her boss, to start digging in on a new research project;
from the sales team, for a piece of copy;
from the communications manager, for ideas for an upcoming email campaign—“if you have time,” the email says.
On top of that, she’s still got new-hire materials to read, the day-to-day minutiae of her role, and some ideas of her own she hopes to flesh out and present to her boss soon.

What does Sarah do?
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Why Managers Don’t Listen (Poor Listener Syndrome): and the Cures!

1. They don’t know they are poor listeners – it’s a blind spot. A behavioral blind spot is the gap between our intentions and our behaviors. We see ourselves as a good listener, but others don’t. Given that candid feedback is such a rare commodity, we are clueless about our flaws until they are pointed out by others. And even when they are, we sometimes still deny they exist (fight or flight).

The cure: Get some feedback. Feedback is a gift, and awareness is the key to self-development.

2. They don’t understand the value of listening. I’ll often have to spend time explaining the impact of poor listening to managers, either in a coaching session or in a training class. Sometimes I’ll demonstrate it. At some point, the light goes on, and for the first time in their lives they get it. These are the same managers who are often having issues in their personal lives, with their friends and family, and poor listening is often the culprit.

The cure: Read the research, discuss the importance of listening with others, and experience the positive effects when you focus on improving your listening skills!
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How to Make Sure You Can Trust Your Artificial Intelligence

How to Make Sure You Can Trust Your Artificial Intelligence | digitalNow |
build “trust in AI.”

What does that mean? “It is increasingly important for designers, architects, and developers of such systems to be fully aware of downstream and adjacent implications, including social, regulatory, and reputational issues,” EY says.

That should go for commercial developers as well as for companies creating proprietary tools. Companies that buy these tools from others should be wary of the risks as well.

According to EY, before starting an artificial intelligence project, a company should ensure that four conditions have been met:

Ethics: The AI system needs to comply with ethical and social norms, including corporate values. “This condition, more than any other, introduces considerations that have historically not been mainstream for traditional technology, including moral behavior, respect, fairness, bias, and transparency.”

Social responsibility: The AI system’s potential societal impact should be carefully considered, including its impact on the financial, physical, and mental well-being of humans and the natural environment. Society impacts might include workforce disruption, the need for skills retraining, discrimination, and environmental effects.

Accountability and explainability: The AI system should have a clear line of accountability to an individual, who should be able to explain the system’s decision framework and how it works. “This is about demonstrating a clear grasp of how AI uses and interprets data, how it makes decisions, how it evolves as it learns, and the consistency of its decisions across sub-groups.”

Reliability: This involves testing the AI system’s functionality and decision-framework detect unintended outcomes, system degradation, or operational shifts — “not just during the initial training or modeling, but throughout its ongoing operation.”

And all of that is just to get started. Going forward with the AI project, in order to achieve and sustain “trust in AI,” the company must “understand, govern, fine-tune, and protect all components embedded within and around the AI system,” EY stresses.

These components include data sources, sensors, firmware, software, hardware, user interfaces, networks, and human operators and users.
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Drive Business Results with Communication Planning

Drive Business Results with Communication Planning | digitalNow |
While important initiatives always have a game plan behind them, daily communications between leaders and employees are often unplanned or buried beneath other pressing business priorities. However, planning communications is often the key to employees having the information and context they need to help an organization or team achieve its vision and goals. 

By planning your intended communications, you can build stronger relationships with employees, and motivate them to contribute to your organization’s success. 

Follow these four steps – Plan, Say, Do and Check – to drive the right behaviors and enhance business performance through your communications with this simple communication planning model. 
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Slow Down, Do Less, Observe More: A Leadership Journey

As I began to think more about it, I also realized that doing more was not only making my life harder, it was getting in my way as a leader. I wasn’t giving others the space to bring themselves fully to their work. I began to notice when I was doing too much of the thinking and the planning and not allowing others to step into the challenges that would help them grow. I needed to learn to step back, to make room for others.

This was a turning point for me as a leader. I began to experiment (though I wouldn’t have used that word at the time) with slowing down, doing less and observing more in my work. Most of the time other people stepped in–and sometimes they didn’t. I experimented with different ways of responding when they didn’t–short of taking over. Thanks to Feldenkrais, I knew what it felt like in my body to slow down. I was able, with practice, to translate that to work settings and, in the process, becoming a better leader. And, remarkably, one with more time for both work and home.

I realize now that Eileen, my Feldenkrais practitioner, was also my first leadership coach. The shifts I made when working with her were essential to the shifts I made in my leadership practices. Since then I’ve developed a regular yoga and meditation practice, and learned many in-the-moment centering practices that have, collectively,  further enabled me to embody the idea of “slow down, do less and observe more.” To a degree I couldn’t have imagined, this has become who I am. I can still move too fast, step in too quickly, speak too much. And, I do these things a lot less frequently–catching myself a whole lot sooner. I am better able to recognize when I am not present and find my way back to presence.
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Should You Fix the Problem or Design it Out? 

Should You Fix the Problem or Design it Out?  | digitalNow |
next time you’re wrestling with a problem and trying to solve it, look at it in a slightly different way just for fun, try asking yourself how you could design the product, service, or experience (or all three) in order to design out the problem.

You may or may not get to a more viable, desirable, and feasible solution than trying to fix the problem.

But, looking at the problem from a range of different perspectives is always worth the effort.

Keep innovating!
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Why nonprofits should think more like tech companies

Why nonprofits should think more like tech companies | digitalNow |
On the latest episode of Recode Decode, Stanford University lecturer Kathleen Kelly Janus talked about the field of social entrepreneurship and her book, "Social Startup Success." In it, she argues that there’s more overlap between what works for nonprofits and for-profits than people might assume.
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 Skills That All Great Innovators Share 

great innovators are more than just dreamers. The random ideas they come across only become useful when applied to a specific problem. Often, they spend years or even decades working on something before they hit on that one missing piece to the puzzle. So it is that kind of tenacity, combined with the eagerness to probe new spaces that makes the difference.

That’s why innovation needs exploration. Not all who wander are lost, but you have to wander with purpose.
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