news2use | February 2020

You have just merged with another organization and it is not going well.

Sold as a merger of equals, the other party acts as if they own the whole show.

Your executive leader decides to take action and invites you, and other senior leaders, into the conference room.

Leaning forward, with both hands on the conference table, he looks around the room and says,


“It is time to kill the enemy.”


You are shocked and breathless.

The executive leader then asks you and the others to name all the things that you like or admire about the so-called “take over group”. Mentioning dislikes is not allowed.

The leader encourages you and the others to see what similarities your group has with the other group.

As this process continues, it becomes harder and harder for you and the others to dislike the other group, as more and more redeeming qualities are mentioned.

Even as the conversation about the other group begins to lose steam, the executive leader encourages the conversation to continue, for what seems like forever, until the feelings for the “enemy” have changed.

Killing the enemy, to the Mohawk Indians, meant killing off feelings that were an obstacle to a peaceful solution. By focusing on the positive attributes of their enemies, shares the late Terry Dobson in “It’s a Lot Like Dancing”, the Mohawks transformed their perception of the enemy that often led to new possibilities to live peacefully with others.

How about your enemies? Perhaps the word is too strong, too polarizing; however, it is surprising to hear how members of one department, from the same company, talk about another. Even people in HQ roles often use “enemy language” to describe colleagues working in the field, and vice versa. In any case, it is not “we are on the same team” language.

Maybe it is time to meet, in the conference room or elsewhere, and kill the enemy.


Enjoy your February news2use use.



“Relevant & pragmatic ideas, tools and insights to play at your best.”

For You

My Dad and I walked to school together. He was the high school principal at the same school I attended. This was not always easy, but that is another story.

Dad was excited and motivated to go to work. As I headed to school and my Dad headed to work, with a skip in his walk, my morning attitude did not always match his excitement about school. I certainly did not dislike school, but I did not always start our morning walk with his overwhelming enthusiasm. Nevertheless, our walk talks were upbeat and optimistic, and by the time we got to school, I was pretty happy and excited about the day in front of me.

In a natural and authentic way, Dad touched on local issues, “Aren’t we lucky to have a school full of great teachers who really enjoy teaching?” or sometimes on more global topics like, “We are so fortunate to live during peacetime and can go about our lives in a normal way”. (Dad had enlisted in the U.S Marine Corp, served in Korea, and did not talk much about the war other than to remind me how beautiful peacetime was.)

Although I did not know it at the time, this was my first experience with the power of priming. Priming is the conscious act of creating space and adjusting our thoughts and emotions to our “best state”. Looking back, these walks with my Dad shaped my perception that the day in front of me was something to look forward to, and my immediate future felt attractive and positive.

Today priming helps me shape positive thoughts and emotions that improve my decision-making and well-being. Other successful people like Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris and the late Steve Jobs are known for their priming practices, ranging from meditation, focused visualization and intentional thinking.

I believe that priming time is more important today than ever before. Looking back, I only had to deal with morning messages from the radio and the newspaper. Today, the smart phone and the internet can easily pollute your priming time if you are not intentional about it.

Steve Jobs had a simple morning routine. After showering, he was confronted with his handwritten note on the mirror that ask,


“If today was the last day of my life,

would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?”


If the answer was “no” too many days in a row, he knew something needed to change. Jobs morning message was an excellent example of purposeful priming in action.

What does the first 30 to 60 minutes of your day look like?

How does your prime time help you play at your best?

For You & Your Team

Confusing KPIs?

As the 2020 business strategy cascades throughout your organization, it could be a good time to check in and see that your team is using quality KPIs, not confusing ones.

Here are five insights that lead to quality KPIs:

  • You cannot structure your KPIs until you have a clear picture of your target or objective. If San Francisco is your target destination, KPIs should serve as road signs that are on the way to the right destination. I have observed situations where KPIs are being discussed before the “final destination” has been determined.
  • Good KPI work means working backwards from your end goal, to help those performing to identify with the meaning and purpose of the desired actions.
  • Focus on KPIs that emphasis connection and interaction, rather than simply activity. This means a KPI of six sales visits is more tangible than one that asks how many customers you called.
  • Select KPIs where the data sources are reliable and easy to access. Sometimes people get into creative KPI building, only to learn later that the effort to measure the KPI itself is too time or labor intensive.
  • Less is more. A good rule of thumb is no more than three KPIs per objective. Keep it simple and sharp.

KPIs are simply measurable actions that allow you to confirm that your strategy is on the right course. Nothing more, and nothing less. Do not get overwhelmed with the granular activity of KPI creation and miss the big picture, which is achieving your goal or objective.

For You, Your Team & Your Business

Serial bank robber Willie Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks. Sutton answered


“I rob banks because that is where the money is.”


Sutton’s remark is thoughtful advice for leadership teams digesting their engagement survey results and discussing how to create more engaging environments for their talents.

Far too often, leadership teams spend hours discussing the results, attempting to determine or justify the reasons for (poor) engagement results. Alternatively, tasks groups, comprised of staff, are asked to look at engagement issues by topic and submit their suggestions (again) to senior leadership.

This is not where the money is, to use Sutton’s words.

The conditions that lead to highly engaging work environments won’t be discovered in the data. Rarely is it addressed in the task groups, because these conditions, the ones that lead to a highly engaging work environment and thus a highly engaged workforce start in the senior leadership team.

The incubator for highly engaging work environments is your leadership team. Be honest and take ownership for this.

This is where to start your engagement efforts.

People, Places & Technology

You cannot buy an ownership culture for your organization, nor can you delegate or dictate it. Yet ownership remains the deepest form of human engagement and is highly sought after by companies that want to play at their best. If you are interested in creating a deeper culture of ownership in your organization, go to chapter 8 of my new book, Executive Ownershift, Creating Highly Effective Leadership Teams. Here I introduce the engagement impact map, how to use your leadership team as an ownership incubator and the nine catalysts that accelerate a culture of ownership.

Thought for the Day

Something happens when you feel ownership. You no longer act

like a spectator or consumer, because you are an owner.

-Bob Goff



Contact Information

Dan Norenberg
Wensauerplatz 11
81245 Munich
Phone: +49 172 862 5123

About Dan Norenberg

Dan Norenberg improves leadership performance and organization results through Executive Ownershift®, his transformational growth process for executive teams. As a trusted advisor, consultant and professional speaker, Dan’s mission is to enable executive teams and their organizations to play at their best.