How Did You Do In 2016?

How Did You Do In 2016?

As we wrap up another year and start to think about our real plans and goals in 2017 I have been doing a lot of reading of year end "best of" lists, looking forward "trendspotting" lists, and a few "remember our goals last year" lists and the last category made me really think... mainly because there have only been a couple of them. So many lists at this time of year celebrating the "best of" what happened in 2016... so many companies and prognosticators talking about "what will happen" in 2017... and almost nobody talking about how the two aligned for the past 12 months. Perhaps it isn't surprising to see that very few people actually take their "plans and goals" from the start of the year and publish their results against those "wishes and dreams" lists that they published a year ago... it would after all require us to show some humility and acknowledgement for those things that didn't go...
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Flawless Execution – In Innovation

Flawless Execution – In Innovation

I've had many bosses who spoke about the need for "flawless execution" in our organization. They spoke of delivering with excellence, achieving plan, and a relentless pursuit of productivity in our work. And then they spoke about how innovative we were going to be - how we were going to try new things, adapt and increase our pace, and become more agile. And when they were done you could look around the room and see confusion and fear. "How can I take chances, try new things, adapt and increase pace, and be more agile while I am delivering with excellence, making no mistakes, achieving my plan, and delivering productivity?" was the thought going through everyone's mind... "Aren't those the exact opposite approaches?"... And then nothing changed. (more…)...
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Empathy Mapping – A Versatile Tool for your Toolbox

Empathy Mapping – A Versatile Tool for your Toolbox

One of my favourite tools when I'm working on innovation, strategic planning, marketing, or even just preparing for an important meeting where a key decision is needed is Empathy Mapping. Put simply Empathy Mapping is a way to discover new insights into people, customer segments, or personas you have developed for your new product or marketing campaign. Those insights might help you to better position your new product or service for them to see the value it creates. They might provide you a glimpse into a change in behaviours or approach which is hindering your ability to push a project forward. New insights might help you identify new differentiating product or service features which will give you an advantage in the market. Ultimately Empathy Mapping is all about understanding people better by reflecting on them and attempting to put yourself into their shoes. (more…)...
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Addressing Your Leadership Blind Spots (Yes You Have Them)

Addressing Your Leadership Blind Spots (Yes You Have Them)

We would all like to think that we are completely aware as leaders of what is happening around us, and completely self-aware of how we are contributing to it but here is a harsh reality: You probably are missing a lot... you have blind spots. No matter how much time we invest in personal development, leadership development, and improving our skills as managers we all have blind spots in our leadership and are not seeing some important things that affect the performance of our organization, our people, and our outcomes. Those blind spots may lead you to make poor choices (as they did recently with Wells Fargo and their "incentives"), they may be contributing to a poor office culture which you as the leader don't see, or they may simply be limiting your employee's engagement in their work which leads to poor productivity, outcomes, and likely loss of some of your talented team members. The reality is that every leader has blind spots... you...
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Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone

Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Neale Donald Walsh Your comfort zone is the behavioural space where your patterns and routines minimize your stress and risk with a situation. It provides you with mental security and provides you with the obvious benefits of basic happiness, reduced anxiety, and lower stress. It is also one of the most important challenges to your success and enjoyment of life - if you stay in your comfort zone you may be less stressed, but you will also be learning less, experiencing less, learning less, and growing less. The idea of "stepping out of your comfort zone" isn't just a great sound bite or quote - it actually stems from the research of Robert M Yerkes and John D Dodson in 1908 where they found that to maximize performance they needed to create a state of "relative anxiety" that they called "Optimal Anxiety". This doesn't mean putting someone into a completely uncomfortable position, but it...
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What’s the Headache?

What’s the Headache?

When you are thinking about starting a business, one of the first questions you need to be able to answer is: "What is the headache that I'm solving for, and how bad is the headache?". You need to solve a problem for someone (your target customer) that they recognize (it is a headache) and that they care about (it is a BAD headache). For a really incredible business you need to have a meaningful solution to their headache, not just something that dulls the pain. You need to be able to articulate how you will make the pain go away for good... not just how you can make the pain bearable. Consider the following scenario (based on one of my favourite quotes from Theodore Levitt): People don't want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole. Theodore Levitt (more…)...
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Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

I was thinking about my experience during my current search for my  next challenge and it dawned on my that this journey has some interesting parallels to Dorothy's experience in The Wizard of Oz. We both were surprised by a tornado that took us into an unfamiliar place, had to get our bearings and find a path that would hopefully lead us to success, met some interesting characters along the way who were helpful on the journey, and faced some unique challenges while travelling the road. Let's start from the beginning... Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. (more…)...
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The Millennial Challenge

The Millennial Challenge

Last week I was at the Niagara Economic Summit where they tackled a number of issues related to employment in the Niagara Region including a power talk on the topic of millennials. The millennial discussion was led by a panel of largely millennial speakers including Chris Sinclair, Julie Rorison, Allie Hughes, Alyssa Lai, Stephanie Harper, and Stephen Murdoch. In the discussion the panelist spoke about the way millennials differ from previous generations in their work styles, their own experiences as employees and employers, and some strategies for other millennials to getting themselves started in the work force. Having recently been doing some work supporting the start-up of a non-profit focused specifically on helping millennials make the leap from student to productive professional I've been doing some research on the topic myself and I found the discussion at the Summit very interesting. It is one thing to read survey data from big corporations and newspapers and to talk to professionals about their...
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What Have You Done For Me Lately?

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

I was speaking with someone recently who had recently been downsized from a company that they had been with for over 15 years. Over that 15 years they had moved up the corporate ladder and were regarded as a rising star in the organization early in their career. Over the past couple of years however their political "stock" had started to fall as the organization had shifted their focus and direction slightly and there had been some turnover in the senior management team. Ultimately this individual had been part of a broad set of job reductions that the company had taken to improve productivity. They were lamenting the fact that they had given 15 years of their life and hard work to an organization that didn't appreciate that legacy and they were feeling very "hard done by" by the whole situation. Having recently gone through a similar experience myself it gave me a great opportunity to reflect on what was different...
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