Working Smarter Using the Eisenhower Matrix

Working Smarter Using the Eisenhower Matrix

Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, serving as president from 1953 to 1961. He faced challenges such as the Korean War, the start of the space race, the Lebanon crisis, and a growing conflict with the Soviet Union. One of his famous quotes was: What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important. It was from that quote that the concept of the Eisenhower Matrix was born, a concept which has been talked about in many famous books including First Things First and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey where it became a foundational component of his time management approach. While the concept and framework are not new, they are just as relevant today as we plan our work (and personal) tasks. In fact taking a thoughtful approach to work using the Eisenhower Matrix may be even more important today with the rapidly increasing pace of business and information. (more…)...
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Simplify Alignment with Framework Thinking

Simplify Alignment with Framework Thinking

Growing a business is hard. Entrepreneurs get started in business with a great idea and the energy to bring it to reality, and then grow the business based on their hard work and hopefully the hard work of a growing team of exceptional team players around them. But at some point the outcomes of that raw desire and entrepreneurial energy start to peak and then turn downward as the organization grows and the coordination of all of those exceptional players starts to become more difficult. What created success as a start-up organization in terms of agility, organic collaboration, and energy-driven execution starts to falter as the number of clients, the scale of the opportunities, and the complexity of the organization rises. (more…)...
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Curiosity Killed the Cat (But Satisfaction Brought It Back)

Curiosity Killed the Cat (But Satisfaction Brought It Back)

I was doing my morning reading today and I came across a few posts and thoughts the value of opposing ideas, disagreement, and controversy and it reminded me of the value of curiosity when we are going about our daily lives. More and more often we see leaders just "speaking louder" on the belief that if they just talk louder they will convince more people to agree with their position (as radical as it might be). We see our friends and family getting into comment wars on social media and posting articles and ideas that are clearly intended to create tension and disagreement. We see people who are shocked by the fact that there are people with ideas and opinions that don't align perfectly with their own. We see more and more people with a clear false consensus bias which is reducing the quality of our societal conversation (and making it very challenging to maintain our own curiosity). False Consensus Bias = People have a...
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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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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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The Art of Thinking Independently Together

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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