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Friday, April 6, 2018

Talent Wins

These are my initial notes after reading the book "Talent Wins: The new playbook for putting people first" written by Ram Charan, Dominic Barton, Dennis Carey. All the text is owned by the authors/publishers and these are my favorite snippets from the book, I do not claim ownership of any content.

  •  Most executives today recognize the competitive advantage of talent, yet the talent practices their organizations use are vestiges of another era. They were designed for predictable environments, traditional ways of getting work done, and organizations where lines and boxes defined how people were managed. As work and organizations become more fluid - and business strategy comes to mean sensing and seizing new opportunities in a constantly changing environment, rather than planning for several years into a predictable future - companies must deploy talent in new ways. In fact, talent must lead strategy.
  • Questions on CEOs minds today:

-          Are my company's talent practices still relevant?
-          How can we recruit, utilize, and develop people to deliver greater value to customers?
-          How do our practices make us better than the competition?
-          How can I be sure that I have the right approach to talent and the right HR to drive change?
-          Do I gather best of my team/assets into a single team abutting your opponent's weak spot?
-          Do you spread them widely to distribute risk?
-          Do you emphasize your strongest sectors?
-          Are your best people all gravitating toward a certain trend, and should the company steer that way?
-          Who are your future leaders?
-          What companies are wooing you best employees, and what does that tell you about your industry’s direction?
-          Who is holding back the creation of more business value, and why?
-          Why are some of your businesses positive or negative outliers, and how much of that performance is attributable to the executive you have put in place?
-          Does compensation match performance? How might specific personnel changes affect the bottom line?
  • Talent is even more than strategy, it is what creates value.
  • Traditionally, companies that reallocated financial capital aggressively from one division to another, based on market opportunity and performance, were worth 40% more after fifteen years than companies that had been relatively passive. [Think this is the motivation for digital transformation efforts?
  •  Deploying human capital is very different from deploying financial capital. Dollars and Euros will go where you send them - and they won't complain. People, on the other hand, want to have a say in their fate.
  • A two-by-two: On one side of the vertical axis list the issues relating to business performance; on the other, organizational concerns. Above the horizontal axis note things that are going well; below, things that aren’t

  •  Getting the people who manage those resources in the same room with you is the only effective way for you to link the company’s financials with the people who produce them.
  • Top executives must dissect past events to understand the root causes of a business’s failure or success.
  •  Talent consideration must be a critical part of every important decision.

  • Talent technology: Software applications that elevate your ability to identify, recruit and support talent both inside and outside your company. Without a strong, effective, and supportive core at the top, a thorough sense of your most valuable talent, and the digital tools that any modern company must have, your transformation will fail.
  • To * Talent * Strategy * Risk[Disruptive framework] from Total Shareholder Return [Organic Growth]
  • In most corporations, everything – work, decision making, compensation, career paths, even who gets the best computer – follows a vertical path. But hierarchy can isolate and bury talent. Instead, a people-first company relies on the work of small, cross-functional teams that come together, disband, and reform as suits the nature of their work. Flattening the organization creates speed.
  • Bring people and numbers together.
  • Value creators aren’t necessarily inventors of new products, great strategists, or those most adept at ascending corporate ladders. Whatever their position, they are people who get to the heart of issues, re-frame ideas, create informal bonds that encourage collaboration, and make the organization healthier and more productive. Often, these are veterans whom newcomers turn to for advice on how to advance through the organizational cross-sections.
  •  If the company’s value agenda was to increase earnings from $600 million in EBITDA to $1 billion, while shifting the multiple from 8x to 10x – how would such a message translate to various levels?
  • According to a McKinsey study, one pharma CEO who decided to spread a message about change via the company’s informal influencers needed only 2.3 steps to reach an employee, versus the 4.5 it would have taken through traditional channels. This means your message moves faster, without the degradation of an extended game of “telephone” and “email”.
  • Suggestions can come from anyone in an employee’s network… At it’s core, the approach depends on continuous dialogue and share accountability.
  • The biggest problem: cleaning up old databases that have different formats and inconsistent information is a time sink.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Consulting Related

Consultants are there to listen, not to talk.

When the study has been sold, the team assembled, and the preliminary research done, the real work can begin. Brainstorming is the sine qua non of strategic consulting. It’s what the clients really buy. Let’s face it. Most large, modern corporations are chock full of intelligent, knowledgeable managers who are darned good at day-to-day problem solving.

The most important ingredient for successful brainstorming is a clean slate. There’s no point calling a meeting if you’re just going to look at the data in the same old way. You have to leave your preconceptions and prejudices at the door of the meeting room.

Business problems are like mice. They go unnoticed until they start nibbling your cheese. Just building a better mousetrap will not make the world beat a path to your door. People who don’t have mice won’t be interested—until the mice show up; then they need to know you have the mousetrap.This might sound like the musings of a Zen monk (or perhaps a management consultant from California). But sometimes the right way to sell your product or service is not to barge into your customer’s home with a bunch of free samples.Just be there, at the right time, and make sure the right people know who you are.

It sounds extreme, but in a way, to be a successful consultant,you have to assert yourself. Very often, you’ll be in a situation where you just have to assume that you can do something, or talk to someone, or get access to some bit of information, even though you may not have the explicit authority to do so.

There’s an old saying that no matter how good you are at something, there’s always somebody better. This is as true in business as it is anywhere else. Find out what the best performers in the industry are doing and imitate them. Often,this is the quickest antidote to poor performance.

First, and obviously, what are the questions to which you need answers? Write them all down in any order. Second, and more important, what do you really need from this interview? What are you trying to achieve? Why are you talking to this person?
1) Have the interviewee’s boss set up the meeting.
2) Interview in pairs.
3) Listen; don’t lead. Ask open ended questions; avoid yes/no questions
4) Paraphrase, paraphrase, paraphrase. Gives interviewee chance to add information
5) Use the indirect approach. Be sensitive to the interviewee’s feelings.
6) Don’t ask for too much. Stick to your interview guide.
7) Adopt the Columbo tactic.Once the interview is over, everybody becomes more relaxed. The interviewee’s sense that you have some power over him will have disappeared. He is far less likely to be defensive, and will often tell you what you need or give you the information you seek on the spot.
Remember that, for many people, being interviewed about problems in their job or business can be unnerving. You have a responsibility to be sensitive to their fears. It’s not only the right thing to do; it makes good business sense too.

Include some to which you know the answer. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s really very useful. On questions of fact, asking a “ringer” will give you some insights into the interviewee’s honesty and/or knowledge. For complex issues, you may think you “know” the answer, but there may be more than one; you should find out as many as possible.

Research Tips:
Start with the annual report: Message to Shareholders/Chairman's remarks
Look for outliers - Things that are especially good or bad.
When you get back to your office after interviewing someone,take the time to write a thank-you letter. It’s polite and professional, and could pay you back in unexpected ways.