Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

Routine means discipline. If you decide to write an hour a day or call 5 prospects every day, you sit down and you write or make your calls. You do it even if you don’t feel like it. At the end of the allotted period, you stop, whether you feel like continuing or not. The point is to not let yourself off the hook for emotional reasons and conversely to not binge and overdo it when you’re feeling ‘in the zone.’ That’s how your create habits, routine, and discipline.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

Join me for a SPECIAL FREE webinar on Jan 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST.

Register now!

Join me at noon eastern on January 18th 2013 for a FREE 1-hour webinar based in part on my book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles.

I’m doing this as a one-time opportunity so you can get more military wisdom to win your business battles in the new year. Look at it as a special New Year’s gift from me. Once again it’s free, but you have to sign up quickly as we only have limited ‘seating.’ I’ll also be giving away free copies of my book, Brilliant Manoeuvres, so if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, this could be your lucky day.

We’ll be discussing the most powerful offensive strategies you need to outmanoeuvre the competition and stake out a strong position in your chosen markets. These are all based on the time-tested strategies used by brilliant military commanders throughout history to seize the initiative from the enemy and conquer them. I’ll explain the concepts and, using examples from business, cover how to:

-Seize and maintain the initiative
-Reinforce success and create dilemmas for competitors
-Find weaknesses in competitors’ positions and gaps in market needs
-Create and exploit your own path of least resistance – the key to all offensive manoeuvres
-Give the knockout blow by exploiting breakthroughs

Even if you’ve read my book, I’ll be introducing new intellectual property that amplifies some of the offensive strategies covered in Brilliant Manoeuvres and covers new ground.

You can ask about your issues beforehand and I’ll incorporate them into the presentation or ask questions during the presentation for impromptu discussion.

This is a great opportunity to start the year by (re)gaining and keeping the all-important initiative. Don’t wait till you’re half way through the year.

And once again, this is FREE for you as members of my communities. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

View System Requirements

Join me for a SPECIAL FREE webinar on Jan 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST.

Register now!

Join me at noon eastern on January 18th 2013 for a FREE 1-hour webinar based in part on my book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles.

I’m doing this as a one-time opportunity so you can get more military wisdom to win your business battles in the new year. Look at it as a special New Year’s gift from me. Once again it’s free, but you have to sign up quickly as we only have limited ‘seating.’ I’ll also be giving away free copies of my book, Brilliant Manoeuvres, so if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, this could be your lucky day.

We’ll be discussing the most powerful offensive strategies you need to outmanoeuvre the competition and stake out a strong position in your chosen markets. These are all based on the time-tested strategies used by brilliant military commanders throughout history to seize the initiative from the enemy and conquer them. I’ll explain the concepts and, using examples from business, cover how to:

-Seize and maintain the initiative
-Reinforce success and create dilemmas for competitors
-Find weaknesses in competitors’ positions and gaps in market needs
-Create and exploit your own path of least resistance – the key to all offensive manoeuvres
-Give the knockout blow by exploiting breakthroughs

Even if you’ve read my book, I’ll be introducing new intellectual property that amplifies some of the offensive strategies covered in Brilliant Manoeuvres and covers new ground.

You can ask about your issues beforehand and I’ll incorporate them into the presentation or ask questions during the presentation for impromptu discussion.

This is a great opportunity to start the year by (re)gaining and keeping the all-important initiative. Don’t wait till you’re half way through the year.

And once again, this is FREE for you as members of my communities. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

View System Requirements

Join us for a webinar on Jan 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST.

Register Now!

Join me at noon eastern on January 18th 2013 for a FREE 1-hour webinar based in part on my book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles.

I’m doing this as a one-time opportunity so you can get more military wisdom to win your business battles in the new year. Look at it as a special New Year’s gift from me. Once again it’s free, but you have to sign up quickly as we only have limited ‘seating.’ I’ll also be giving away free copies of my book, Brilliant Manoeuvres, so if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, this could be your lucky day.

We’ll be discussing the most powerful offensive strategies you need to outmanoeuvre the competition and stake out a strong position in your chosen markets. These are all based on the time-tested strategies used by brilliant military commanders throughout history to seize the initiative from the enemy and conquer them. I’ll explain the concepts and, using examples from business, cover how to:

-Seize and maintain the initiative
-Reinforce success and create dilemmas for competitors
-Find weaknesses in competitors’ positions and gaps in market needs
-Create and exploit your own path of least resistance – the key to all offensive manoeuvres
-Give the knockout blow by exploiting breakthroughs

Even if you’ve read my book, I’ll be introducing new intellectual property that amplifies some of the offensive strategies covered in Brilliant Manoeuvres and covers new ground.

You can ask about your issues beforehand and I’ll incorporate them into the presentation or ask questions during the presentation for impromptu discussion.

This is a great opportunity to start the year by (re)gaining and keeping the all-important initiative. Don’t wait till you’re half way through the year.

And once again, this is FREE for you as members of my communities. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Register Now!

View System Requirements

Last Thursday I spoke in front of a group of security and intelligence executives from government and the private sector gathered under the auspices of the National Capital Security Partners Forum, a chapter of the Canadian Security Partners Forum. Grant Lecky, founder and president of the CSPF, as well as Bonnie Butlin, the group’s executive director, invited me to speak, and it was an excellent opportunity to spread the message of my new book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles.

The focus of my presentation was on ‘mission command’ and how it should be applied in business and other organizational settings outside the military. This is the approach the military uses to ensure that all levels of leadership in a unit are fully appraised of the situation and know the superior commanders’ intent, missions, and plans. The essence of mission command is to leverage the initiative of everyone in the unit to achieve its mission and vision. The key is to tell people what they need to achieve and why they need to achieve it, and to let them figure out the best way to get results, while staying within certain parameters. (I have a video which explains this concept in greater depth.)

The discussion was lively and reinforced two key points for me. The first is that mission command as practised in the military and in the most adaptable and robust organizations is definitely the best way to gain full alignment to the organization’s mission, vision, and objectives. On the other hand—and this is the second key takeaway for me—an organization or business that wants to create a culture of empowerment under the auspices of military style mission command must develop the proper skills, competencies, and organizational processes and decision-making structures. That organization also requires incentives that reward initiative and that allow a certain level of prudent, calculated risk-taking.

Another issue we discussed is how mission command is also highly applicable in a matrix management and/or project management framework. In such a system, managers who are responsible for organizational initiatives and projects have the mandate to achieve their aims, but don’t necessarily have the hierarchical control of the people and resources to carry out their missions and achieve their aims. This requires a mindset where everyone has to understand the mission and vision of the business or organization, and be an excellent team player. If everyone knows what is needed and why it is needed, that makes it much easier for project managers and initiative leaders to get the cooperation and collaboration they need to get their mandates done.

Executives and managers at all levels must not only be excellent managers, but they must also be transformational leaders. This requires a level of commitment from the organization’s senior leadership to develop and select for these skill sets over the long term. You can have all the best intentions in the world, but if your ‘chain of command’ isn’t fully committed to mission command and the leadership it entails, then pronouncements of empowerment and bottom-up initiative are just that, empty words. Every one has to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

Last month I wrote about one of the two fundamental principles that underlie all other principles of business battle: following the path of least resistance. The other is selection and maintenance of the aim or, simply, the principle of the objective. I’ve described this in great detail in my book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles, but I’d like to give you a summary of this principle and include some tips about using it to frame your own objectives for 2013 and beyond.

Objectives are essential because they force us to concentrate on the direction and outcomes of all of our actions. This is as crucial in business as it is in war, politics, economics and personal life. Without objectives, we squander valuable resources, including money, time, alliances, friendships, family support, and most important of all, opportunities. We can wander aimlessly for a long time without focusing our efforts and concentrating our minds on a set of objectives and definite major purpose.

Everyone and every organization must have objectives at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. They will describe the key outcomes, i.e., what must be achieved, and why these outcomes are needed. Although it is sometimes necessary to include broad parameters for achieving objectives, such as constraints (musts) and restraints (must nots), it is generally better to not specify the ‘how’ too closely. This provides an incentive and the freedom of manoeuvre to our teams and organizations, and also to us, to come up with the best options for implementation as the situation warrants and conditions evolve. If our plans are too restrictive, this will prevent initiative and we can fall prey to rapid changes as clients, suppliers, competitors, and other stakeholders’ needs, beliefs, and goals evolve in response to our actions.

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to step up and decide what you want to achieve individually and organizationally in 2013 and beyond. Start at strategic level and work through the operational and tactical levels. Look at what you want to achieve in terms of outputs and outcomes, but also in terms of inputs, of what you need to change in your behavior, values, and beliefs in order to maximize the chances of success.

The following questions are meant to guide you in formulating your strategic, operational, and tactical goals for the next year. They are extracted from chapter 4 of Brilliant Manoeuvres, and you can answer them by following the questions on pages 24 to 33 in the Brilliant Manoeuvres Study Guide that you can download from my book page on my website.

•    What is your ultimate vision and objective?
•    What would be the best way to achieve this vision or goal?
•    Do you have the means to achieve this objective in the manner you’ve defined?
•    Do you need to change the way you intend to achieve your objective? If so, would this lead to the attainment of your goal or vision?
•    Do you need to break up your ultimate vision into sub-goals and to sequence these over time?
•    What mission would allow you to realize that vision or end state?
•    What is your broad intent in that regard, such as your positioning and posture (offensive or defensive)?
•    Do you wish your products and services to be highly differentiated, constantly innovating to stay ahead of the pack, or do you prefer instead to be the cost leader?
•    Are you seeking to defend your position, or to go on the attack to overtake your competitors by staking out your position in virgin territory?
•    What is the broad scheme of manoeuvre and concept of operations that will transform your vision into action and results? How does this translate into a functioning business model that can succeed over time and that supports your mission?
•    What resources are required? Who will execute the plan and what roles are they expected to play?
•    What specific tasks and responsibilities are required of the subordinate elements and leaders in your organization?
•    How do these tasks fit together and how are they sequenced in time and space to produce the effects you’re seeking?

I can’t guarantee success if you answer these questions, as there are simply too many factors and imponderables that can impinge on your goals. However, I can guarantee what will happen if you don’t set any objectives and plan for their achievement: stasis or, worst, decline. Nothing stays put in the world and if you’re not moving, someone else is and will overtake you.

Find the time between now and the end of the year to ponder these things and to set your goals for 2013. Create your outline plans that will get you to your objectives. Assign responsibilities to your team members and work with collaborators to determine how to best apportion roles and resources. Better yet, read Brilliant Manoeuvres and follow along with the downloadable Study Guide on my book page so that you can win your business battles in 2013 and beyond.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2012. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.

I will be speaking about How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles over the coming weeks. These speeches are based on my new book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles (http://www.amazon.com/Brilliant-Manoeuvres-Military-Business-Battles/dp/1906403856/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353335270&sr=8-1&keywords=brilliant+manoeuvres).

Here are the events:

  • 3 December – Queen’s University School of Business
  • 5 December – RBC Global Asset Management lunchtime conference, Hilton Lac Leamy, Gatineau, Quebec (private function)
  • 6 December – Canadian Security Partners Forum Ottawa Chapter (private function)
  • 10 December – RBC Global Asset Management lunchtime conference, Montreal, Quebec (private function)

Please feel free to contact me about my speaking, training and facilitation services on my website: http://www.alcera.ca/en/speaking-facilitation.php.

 

I spoke on 30 October 2012 at the Rotman School of Management at U of T. The topic was How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles. Rotman is the premier business school in Canada and has a worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation. I was particularly honoured to present my first speech there in support of my new book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles.

You can find more information about my book here and Rotman has posted an excerpt of the speech on their You Tube channel, here. I invite you to read and listen more about this topic. It’s fascinating and highly applicable to business strategy, leadership, and organizational management in general.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

Training is critical to developing the skills, culture, and processes that will enable the organization to meet its strategic, operational, and tactical goals. Unfortunately, it is too often created and delivered as if it were an end in itself. When this happens, it is a waste of effort, resources, and money. Here is a list of what I like to call ‘training truths.’

•Most training in companies and other organizations is a waste of time and money because it is done without a clear objective or purpose. Training is developed and delivered with little or no analysis of the skills and knowledge that are actually needed by the people receiving the training. I’ve gotten requests for training or to give a list of possible courses from which the client organization can choose. My typical answer is “What is the objective of the training?” Too often the answer is “Look, we just want some training. We have a budget and we need to improve in some area. Can you help us or not?” Needless to say, I can’t help them in such a case.

•Training needs are often established by HR professionals without the proper input or interest by the line managers and operational teams that are receiving the training. This also occurs in professional associations when it comes time to create the concurrent session program for the next annual conference. I’m not putting the blame on the HR professionals or meeting planners, as they are often preaching in the wilderness. It is up to operational managers and executives to determine what the developmental requirements are for their individual employees and teams. The role of HR and training developers is to guide and assist in this process to achieve the strategic, operational, and tactical goals of the organization.

•Formal, classroom-based training is not always the best means to acquire or change essential skills and behaviour, yet that is what most people envisage when they think of ‘training.’ First of all, you have to determine if training is even needed. Sometimes, it’s the structure and processes of the organization; at other times, it’s the incentives and overall management that are deficient. No amount of training can compensate for poor management and organization. If you do deem that training is required, you don’t necessarily have to sit people in a classroom. Alternatives include: online, self-paced learning; books and reference manuals; coaching; mentoring; just-in-time training; simulations, to name but a few.

•Most training doesn’t get validated. This is the process of going back to the trainees, their superiors, subordinates, colleagues, clients, etc. after a certain period to determine if the training has actually been effective at inculcating the correct skills, knowledge, and attitudes in the trainees. In other words, validation is the control and performance measurement mechanism to ensure that the goals originally formulated for the training have actually been achieved. How can you know if training is truly effective if you don’t measure its effectiveness down the road? And notice that validation doesn’t occur in the last fifteen minutes of a workshop.

•This is where ‘smile sheets’ come into play. We’ve all seen these sheets passed around at the end of a course or workshop to assess the content of the course, the instructor, the ‘environment,’ the quality of didactic materials, etc. I find this exercise totally useless. At the best it is a waste of time, but at worst it gives a false sense of security to everyone involved. The purpose of training is to get people outside their comfort zone. Some people thrive on this and get jazzed up. As a result, they give a glowing review to the trainer and the training. Other people get very uncomfortable when they’re challenged in this way and react negatively in their assessments. Others are neutral or somewhere in the middle. Training should be measured by its effectiveness against the objectives that were set at the beginning, not against some imaginary ‘feel good’ standard. A final point is that any experienced trainer, instructor, or facilitator should be able to gauge the mood of a class and whether people are absorbing the material. They don’t need a smile sheet at the end to tell them how effective the training was. If they do, or if they need the positive strokes from seeing a bunch of 5 out of 5’s, then they probably shouldn’t be conducting training in an organizational setting.

•Training often brings together groups that are too heterogeneous to have meaningful discussions and interaction during classroom based work. There is nothing wrong with senior executives mixing with production-line employees; in fact, I think it’s a great idea. However, formal training isn’t the time or place for that type of activity. You can deliver the exact same training package to senior managers and line employees, but the actual content of discussions and interaction can be very different. This is just a function of the day-to-day experiences and responsibilities of the people involved. Training should be conducted in fairly homogeneous groupings so that everyone can get the most out of the exercises, discussions, and interactions.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2012. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.

In the last two newsletters I described the stages of leader development according to Torbert’s and Cook-Greuter’s Action-Logics model of adult development. To recap, there are 7 levels of development: the Opportunist, the Diplomat, the Expert, the Achiever, the Pluralist (or Individualist), the Strategist, and the Alchemist. I described all of these levels in some detail, save for the Alchemist, which is extremely rare and somewhat speculative, in my opinion.

This month, I want to give you some tips on how you can promote the evolution and growth from one stage to the next. However, rather than providing a narrative description, I’m incorporating a table which summarizes some of the tactics you can use to move from one level to the next. I’m also including a table that summarizes the way different leadership stages respond to feedback and seek to influence others. This information is based in part on an article by David Rooke and Bill Torbert that appeared in the April 2005 issue of Harvard Business Review, “Seven Transformations of Leadership,” and is supplemented with my own insights.

Tactics for Progressing from Stage to Stage
Transition Developmental Tactics
Opportunist to Diplomat Wait before speaking or reacting, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, apologize, ask questions, listen more than speaking.
Diplomat to Expert Be more assertive, speak before thinking, do something specifically for yourself, protect your turf, perfect technical skills or expertise, get technical training or coaching.
Expert to Achiever Focus more on delivering results than on acquiring more detailed knowledge, question your assumptions and beliefs, try saying things like “I would like to understand why you say that.” Get some leadership coaching. Find a mentor. Do a time management course. Read up on organizational behaviour and psychology. Stop pontificating. Secure work or a position outside your professional stream. Ask for a foreign posting.
Achiever to Pluralist Question the validity of stated goals and objectives. Try to improve procedures and systems. Seek alternative inputs and points of view. Consult and include diverse opinions. Do something completely different. Get some life coaching. Read works of philosophy and classic literature. Make a drastic change.
Pluralist to Strategist Engage in peer-to-peer development. Establish mutual mentoring and coaching with peers or colleagues, people you respect. Consciously model the behaviour and beliefs you wish to acquire. Observe yourself in action. Write in a journal. Take up a self-awareness or meditative discipline.
How Leaders at Different Stages Respond to Feedback and Seek to Influence Others
Stage/Action Logic Typical Understanding and Response to Feedback Typical Methods of Influence
Opportunist Sees feedback as an attack or threat. Takes matters into own hands, tries to coerce, win fights.
Diplomat Sees feedback as disapproval or as a reminder of norms. Enforces existing norms, encourages, cajoles, requires conformity.
Expert Takes feedback personally, defends own position, dismisses feedback from those not seen as experts in same field (e.g. a manager). Gives personal attention to detail and seeks perfection, argues own position and dismisses other’s. Highlights facts and figures.
Achiever Accepts feedback, especially to improve and achieve goals. Provides logical argument, data, experience, makes task or goal oriented contractual agreements.
Pluralist Welcomes feedback as necessary for self-knowledge and to uncover hidden aspects of self. Adapts or ignores rules where needed, or invents new ones, discusses issues and airs differences.
Strategist Invites feedback for self-actualization, conflict is seen as an inevitable aspect of relationships. Leads in reframing and reinterpreting situations and issues so that decisions support principles, strategy, etc.
Alchemist Sees feedback loops as a natural part of living systems, essential for learning and change, but takes it with a grain of salt. Reframes, turns inside out, upside down, clowning, holding up mirror to others, often behind the scenes.

Both of these tables add to the stage descriptions I provided in the last two issues of this newsletter. They are also helpful for identifying one’s own developmental level, as well as that of others. The second table is particularly useful in helping to craft approaches to assist others with their development, to providing feedback, and to influencing them in a manner that is most effective given the proclivities of their stage.