Imagine you have a house full of guests. On the table in front of you is a beautiful cake, fitting for such an occasion. Before you cut the cake, you turn to your guests and ask,
”Imagine that you can cut this cake just four times.
How many pieces of cake would you be able to create, with just four cuts of this cake?”
Your guests begin to think and discuss your challenge amongst themselves.
They start to shout out their answers.
“Twelve pieces”, someone says proudly.
How many pieces could you create with four knife cuts to the cake?
Nearly everyone comes up with answers between seven and twelve.
Their responses, like most peoples, are based on cake cutting habits that have been learnt from years of cutting cakes or watching a cake being cut. These observations and experiences become habits, our brain’s efficient way of helping us into “autopilot” when we do things that our brain recognizes as routines or regular patterns.
While many habits are helpful, others are not, especially if you are a leader moving into new situations. Marshall Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” is a good book on the subject. As we go through life, it is important to review what habits support us in new situations and which ones do not.
Now back to the cake and your four cuts.
If you let go of some old habits and embrace a new habit, you can create sixteen pieces of cake with four knife cuts.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself. www.dannorenberg.com /cut-the-cake
All the best for a great August and I wish you a good read!
“Relevant & pragmatic ideas, tools and insights to play at your best.”
How do people experience you? What is the emotional footprint you leave people with after you interact with them?
Unless we ask people for feedback about how they experience working with us, it is impossible to know. Getting feedback from others and giving others feedback is a necessary and valuable navigation tool for leaders.
Enable people to provide feedback that helps you do new things or improve something that is important for you. Use these three questions for starters:
• What is it that you find helpful in the way I work with you?
• What could I do differently that would improve our collaboration?
• In your eyes, what is the one thing that I could stop doing to be more effective or serve our relationship better?
Providing focus for feedback dramatically increases the quality of the feedback you get. These questions are helpful when you have a busy boss. When you shape your feedback with these three questions, you will get better feedback than simply asking your boss, “How am I doing?”
Getting feedback does not mean that you have to change to suit those around you; however if you do want to influence others in a respectful way, you need to know how they experience you. Getting feedback is an essential starting point
For You & Your Team
Do you have the courage to be essential?
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple as interim CEO in 1997, the company was two months away from bankruptcy. Jobs cut desktop computers from 15 models to one. He eliminated printers and other peripheral devices. He cut inventory by 80%. The following summer, Richard Rumelt “Good Strategy, Bad Strategy” met with Jobs and asked, “Steve, what’s your strategy now that you’ve cut so much out of the company”. Jobs smiled and said, “I am going to wait for the next big thing”.
This is the courage to be essential. We are surrounded by the essential, yet many get lost in the haystack while looking for the needed needle.
Do you and your team understand and act on what is essential for your team health and business wealth? The ability for a leader and her team to focus on those things that matter most is what separates average teams from exceptional ones. This means:
1. Focus on priorities that fulfill your clearly defined strategic future.
2. Map your team activities and increase your “strategic quitting” ratio; that is identifying and letting go of non-essential or non-strategic activities that consume time and resources but provide no impact to your true priorities.
3. Challenge tasks and delegated activities by asking questions and pushing back when you feel initiatives or task have little value or meaning and do not contribute to your strategic priorities.
While you may not be in a position where you can simply wait for the next big thing, all of us can find a bit more courage to be essential through focus, strategic quitting and challenging the work we are asked to do.
For You, Your Team & Your Business
It is the season for strategic dialog as leaders and their teams around the globe put the finishing touches on their new year’s strategy.
This is an ideal time to review your strategic leadership habits. There is a habit of spending a great deal time putting the strategy together (strategy creation) and less energy and thought on strategic execution, which is as important. Take some time with your leadership team to review where and how you can make the most of your strategic leadership habits.
As you introduce the strategy into your business, give some renewed attention to how you share where your business is going to the people that work for you.
This is your strategic narrative and it is a critical element of strategic execution. Leaders often underestimate the power and importance of a well-designed and well-delivered strategic narrative.
Look at your strategic narrative like a rope, that serves as a guide to help people, teams and your organization go from where they are today to where strategic success resides in the future. Your “strategic narrative rope” is actually three narratives wrapped into one. They are:
The Personal Narrative
Why is this work important to you?
Why are you at this job and not another?
What is the story that got you here?
Where is the personal meaning in what you do?
The Outside-In Narrative
What is the problem, challenge or opportunity in the marketplace that you want to capitalize on?
What is the size of the prize and what‘s the purpose in doing this?
The Inside-Out Narrative
Why is your firm or business group uniquely qualified to success in this strategic journey?
What competences and capabilities do you bring to this opportunity?
A rationally clear and emotionally compelling strategic narrative weaves all three of these narratives into a “strategic story” that enables people to play at their best.
Consider spending time this month reviewing your habits for building and delivering an enabling strategic narrative.
People, Places & Technology
August is a holiday month for many, this means time for reflection. As I have touched on many strategy elements in this issue of news2use, let me also share with you one of the best books on strategy I have come across.
Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, The Difference and Why it Matters by Richard Rumelt is an excellent read. Rumelt has spent a lifetime helping leaders create good strategy and avoid or rebuild bad strategies.
Thought for the Day
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”