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. 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 will help you to position your new product around the value it creates. They provide you with a glimpse into a change in behaviours or approach which hinders your ability to push a project forward. New insights will help you identify new differentiating features which give you an advantage in the market.Ultimately Empathy Mapping is about understanding people better by reflecting on them and attempting to put yourself in 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. We aren't 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 aren't...
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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 Walsch 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. It does mean extending...
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Starting a Successful New Business – What’s the Headache?

Starting a Successful New Business – What’s the Headache?

When you are thinking about starting a successful new 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. Don't just find something that dulls the pain, find something that makes it go away.Finally, you need to be able to articulate how you will make the pain go away for good.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 some 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 millennial speakers including Chris Sinclair, Julie Rorison, Allie Hughes, Alyssa Lai, Stephanie Harper, and Stephen Murdoch. In the discussion, the panellists spoke about the way Millennials differ from previous generations. I call this the Millennial Challenge. Gen Y differs in their work styles and their experiences and perceptions of employees and employers. The panellists also shared some strategies for other millennials to get themselves started in the work force.I have recently been doing some work supporting the start-up of a non-profit focused on helping millennials make the leap from student to productive professional. I found the discussion at the Summit fascinating given some research I've been doing in that work. It is one thing to read professional research and perspectives on...
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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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Diversity: The Art of Thinking Independently Together

Diversity: The Art of Thinking Independently Together

The word "diversity" is thrown around in corporate circles on a regular basis, but like many such common corporate words (like "innovation", "synergy", "culture", or "strategy") the word itself doesn't carry a common meaning and so it loses a great deal of its power. Sometimes people mean diversity in terms of race, heritage, or origin. Sometimes it means diversity in terms of gender. Rarely does it meet the standard of diversity that I think it needs to. The most important fact about American liberty is that it has never been a single idea, but a set of different and even contrary traditions in creative tension with one another. This diversity of libertarian ideas has created a culture of freedom which is more open and expansive than any unitary tradition alone could possibly be. David Hackett Fischer While the quote above is focused on an American concept the foundation of the quote is universal. Diversity is a broad concept that requires leaders to...
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Leading to Outcomes

Leading to Outcomes

One of the more successful strategies I have seen managers take in their organizations has been shifting their focus from managing the process to leading to outcomes. In the age of employee empowerment, one of the best ways to allow your team to feel like they have a say in the work is to allow them some flexibility in the process and approach. As long as they deliver the desired outcome, they should be able to define the path. The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt I would suggest that the act of simply managing for outcomes isn't enough in the current corporate environment. Setting goals and offering flexibility in the approach by Leading to Outcomes is a far more effective approach. If you retain the concept of managing in the approach, you won't achieve the full...
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