news2use | October 2020

Recurring dramas. Events (and results) that continue to reappear until someone does something different. Frustrating and irritating for executives, recurring dramas seriously disrupt business beyond the executive suite. Here is an example:

Charles, the CEO, and my client was frustrated and disappointed. He was again complaining about Eric, the chief marketing officer. I had been on the listening end of this conversation many times.

From Charles’s point of view, Eric, the CMO, had grown comfortable and complacent over the many years of running the marketing group. Eric was not challenging himself or his marketing organization to innovate, in part because he and many in his group did not see the need to change. Over the past several months, Eric had circled the wagons around his people. His marketing strategy had become a slow reaction to the market. He and his staff defended the status quo. It was hurting the team and the business.

It was time confront Charles with his recurring drama.

“Charles”, I said, “This is a road you have been down many times before. You keep circling around it, consistently expressing your frustration, yet not getting results that satisfy you or the business.”

“Dan, you know what the problem is. Eric has been here longer than the dinosaurs. If I tried to move him out of here, it would cost me an arm and a leg. In fact, due to our legacy compensation system, he makes nearly as much as I do, and I am the CEO!”

“Charles, if Eric wasn’t in the picture here, how much more effective would your leadership team be and what would this mean for the business?” I inquired.

“We’d be at least 10% more effective, faster at our marketing initiatives and our growth rate would follow along those lines as well,” he shot back.

“What was your revenue last year?” I asked.

“Just under 3.5 billion.”

“So, let me get this straight”, I summarized, “you’re saying that if you could make the change at the CMO level that this would impact and improve your business by 10 percent?”

“That’s right.”

“Charles, I studied psychology, not accounting, but even I can calculate what you believe this change would mean for your business. Ten percent of 3.5 billion is 350 million. What would it cost you to make the changes with Eric that you’ve thought about?”

“Probably 1.5 to 1.7 million.”

“Let me understand this Charles,” I said slowly, “You see an opportunity to make a change, create an upside for your business of 350 million against an ‘investment’ with Eric’s departure of 1.5 million, right? What else is missing or needed for you to move forward, and not continue to circle around this drama that clearly has been consuming your time and energy?”

Eric was asked to leave a week later; respectfully and with severance package that was agreeable to all parties. Additional changes were made in Eric’s group that led to a more innovative, responsive, and client centered marketing approach and Charles’s reoccurring drama was resolved. This gave a big boost to the entire executive team that had also been negatively affected by this recurring drama.

From our point of view, it looks like an easy decision for Charles. Yet simple as it sounds, Charles had not been able to look beyond his drama cycle and concretely develop alternatives, what ifs or explore the consequences of not resolving this drama.

A broken record continues to skip until someone moves the needle.

Playing at your best means being ultra-aware and prepared to resolve recurring dramas that continuously resurface in the organization.

What is the needle you and your team need to move?


Enjoy your October news2use.



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

For You

How often have you heard someone say?

“I’m not a people person.”

“I don’t do well with technology.”

“I don’t deal with conflict.”

When people are quick to label situations, others, or themselves, they stop seeing opportunities for growth.

Stop slapping a label on things. We put labels on canned food, yet who wants to live a canned life?

Live life beyond a label.

For You & Your Team

Meeting, strategizing, and deciding effectively in the virtual space is one of the huge lessons learned from Covid 19. Yet in this virtual setting, I am surprised to see a prehistoric practice, still alive and well in many companies. And the virtual context seems to exploit this practice.

The 60-minute meeting.

There is no place for a 60-minute meeting in a highly effective organization.

In fact, individuals, teams, or an organization that insists on scheduling on the hour are operating in the stone age.

You cannot book one meeting to end on the hour and at the same time agree to be in another meeting at the start of the next hour. It is simply not possible. And if you cannot keep a promise to be on time, how can you keep a promise to do anything else?

Run 25 minutes meetings, 35-minute meetings, 47-minute meetings or 1 hour and 37-minute meetings, and do not accept invitations or set up 60-minute meetings.

Think about being effective and stop thinking about the clock.

For You, Your Team & Your Business

Discourage hoarding, especially priorities.

At the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, people staggered through the supermarket with mountains of toilet paper. Local and regional authorities assured people that supply chains would run and we would not suffer from food or household shortages. For the most part, this has been the case.

Teams and functions are still hoarding priorities, holding onto to everything that has ever been called important, and even some things that never were important.

What is the practice in your organization? Do you encourage people to hoard priorities, meaning people stagger through their work overloaded, with everything and thus nothing really standing out as a true priority?

As a senior leader, check to see if you implicitly or explicitly support a hoarding mentality in your organization. You may not be a hoarder yourself, yet in some way, you are very likely discouraging people from letting go of the less important initiatives.

Steven Jobs said that it was not difficult to kill bad ideas, but it was very difficult to kill good ideas so that they could pursue only the great ones.

Becoming the leadership team that you want to be, but have not dared to be, is a step by step process. When you discourage priority hoarding, this is a good step in that direction.

People, Places & Technology

Are you looking for the “right spot” for your next strategy offsite or executive team kick-off? Look at the Steigenberger Hotel, Der Sonnenhof. I recently worked there, outstanding facilities, first-class customer care and an aligned and professional approach to health and safety, hugely important in these times. Located about an hour outside of Munich, in Bad Wörishofen, the surrounding countryside is beautiful and an ideal spot for breakthrough thinking and results. Peter Messner, General Manager, and his event management team do a superb job. It is the place to go for teams and groups that need to meet in an effective (and safe) face to face environment.

Thought for the Day

“It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes.

What matters most is getting off.

You cannot make progress without making decisions.”

-Jim Rohn




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.