Executives have to go where the rubber hits the road

Here’s the take away for Executives.

Despite your best endeavours, you may have 'defeat devices' installed in your organisation. To ensure this is not the case, you have to engage the source data.

What does this mean?

  • Even if your Net Promotor Score is a whopping 80%, you, personally, should still verify the data by engaging with customers.
  • Even if your employee engagement surveys tell you things couldn’t be better, you still need to confirm this by walking, talking and listening.
Read More
Simon LuntComment
Concerned your poor strategic thinking will be exposed? Time to write a book.

Wool-suited, french-cuffed and tied (at that time), executives can sit cooly for hours in 40C heat but don’t ever extinguish the projector. Nothing brings on a perspiratory flash-flood faster than the prospect of delivering a slide-less presentation. 

An executive should be able to communicate her or his strategy in 10 mins or less. They should be able to do so engagingly and with clarity. 

Any Executive who cannot do this surrenders their right to admonish sub-ordinates who are similarly fuzzy in their communication of the strategy.

Can’t past the test? Fortunately a remedy is at hand.

Read More
If you love your business, get involved
I had tired of the grouchiness of the Air Canada staff that welcomes you into their lounge at Pearson Airport, so I chose to spend my pre-flight time at the Priority Club, an alternate choice for frequent flyers and one not affiliated with an airline. The lounge was empty except for the presence of a dozen Air Canada pilots, enjoying their own company, and displaying boisterous good humour.
Read More
Simon LuntComment
Can you handle the truth - part I
Last year I read ‘The Ghost of the Executed Engineer’ by Loren Graham. The book focuses on Peter Palchinsky, a Russian engineer, who served both the Tsarist and Stalinist regimes. Using Palchinsky as a proxy for the Soviet Union, Graham proposes that it was the Soviet’s lack of appetite to receiving (negative) feedback that lead to a paucity of innovation in the centrally managed economy, and its ultimate failure.. In CE terms, solutions to complex problems were always treated as fail-safe, rather than safe-to-fail. The claim may be exaggerated, but should not be dismissed too quickly. Peter Palchinsky loved presenting damming conclusions, but did so too gleefully. He seems never to have read the body language of the recipients of the feedback, and this lack of interpersonal awareness eventually cost him his life.
Read More
Praise the Lord! We are a musical nation
In business we spend a considerable amount of time discussing where we are going. Yet when we introduced to other homo narrans, we seem to spend a lot of time navigating toward an understanding of the each other through references to aspects of personal history. We display metaphorically our geographic, social, intellectual, even spiritual roots. As Snowden points out, we re-establish extended familial bonds at births, deaths and marriages through the re-telling share (and sometimes embellished) family sagas. It seems to give us context about the range of conversations we can going forward; they can launching points for oral adventures, or traffic lights preventing collisions. It can of course lead to initial mis-conceptions, but I find course correction easily obtained. For example; I am Welsh, but I don’t sing. Or rather I do sing, but lustfully, not tunefully. My race does not have a genetic disposition for singing, but my culture does engage itself and identify itself through this medium—and there can’t be too many nations whose pop musicians complete their concert by leading the audience in hymn singing.
Read More
Simon LuntComment
Can using complicated tools to solve a complex problem make you ill?
My initial contact with Cognitive Edge was stimulated by a question; does anyone out there have experience of applying a complex adaptive system approach to business? The root of the question arose from an earlier one of “how do you build bodily health” and curiosity as to whether the answer to that question had insight for building organisational health. I had developed an understanding of the physiology of the human body through research and self-experimentation, and came to conclusion that our bodies are non-homeostatic open systems, but was surprised that a big chunk of medical science is derived from model of closed-loop steady state. Thus we manage this Complex system with Complicated and Simple tools (to our detriment) , and the analogy to Business seemed worthy of further investigation.
Read More
Dots and patterns: how to make your competitors colour blind
An alternative title for this piece could have been “Narrative research—a practical introduction.” As stated previously, most of my clients are hard-nosed and commercially-orientated, and typically prefer to see a cause-and-effect relationship between spending and a return. They often have a science or engineering background, and have a predilection for anything that can be measured and spreadsheeted—preferably with error bars. They have huge intellectual horsepower and readily assimilate the concepts around complex adaptive systems, but less readily want to deal with the attending implications of managing ambiguity.
Read More
Create the demand to participate
I’m not sure if I always get the whole ‘change management’ thing. I have been in full-time employment for over 30 years, and I have seen basic problem-solving or simply getting stuff done, be cordoned off for execution by a recipe-following, jargon-laden club whose membership have derailed or even prevented business improvement. I have seen real movement, real change and genuine heart-felt challenge ignored, overrun or dismissed—to the detriment of many organisations. Let me be blunt. I have seen some ‘Change Management’ projects snuff out feedback loops; I have seem them absolve leaders from explaining weak decisions; I have seen Change Managers override warning signs, and even driven creaky transactional processes into chaos. Yesterday I heard a Change Management professional decrying a group of lathe operators who had successfully developed and implemented an improved manufacturing workflow by ‘chatting over tea,’ instead of forming a guiding coalition and then adhering to the remaining 6 or 7 steps—as per the CM manual issued in February. I kid you not.
Read More
Simon LuntComment
The Price is Right?
It will be difficult to apply ‘probe-sense-respond’ in business because the environment subconsciously prohibits experimentation. That would be my conclusion based on fifteen years of encouraging clients to practice safe-to-fail problem-solving.
Read More
Simon LuntComment
How to manage Chaos appropriately - a case study
I was asked recently to provide an example of how to deal with problems in the Chaotic domain. The attached 12 minute documentary* provides a vivid contemporary case study. The video focuses on the use of watercraft to aid the removal of hundreds of thousands of people who were stranded on Lower Manhattan at the time of the attack on the Twin Towers. Within less than an hour of the attack, none of the common commuter escape routes were available. The subways, bridges and tunnels had all been closed, and for office workers pushed to the extreme edges of Manhattan by collapsing buildings, escape by water seemed the only option.
Read More
Business Functions have brains too
Business Functions (IT, Legal, HR,Communications etc) sometimes feel like poor second cousins to the Commercial Unit when asked to participate in the corporate strategy process. This should not be the case. Functions should be vigorous and confident when communicating the value they can bring to business performance. But in so doing, they need to be clear on the impact they have upon their clients, and their strategic thinking should be as lucid and incisive as their commercial colleagues.
Read More
Clarity and Simplicity: the essential requirements of strategy

We have a statement to make.  

Over the past two weeks we have had a number of requests asking us to provide our view on the distinction between, vision, values, mission, intent etc.

We could provide the definitions.  We have a library of strategy books written by well-informed, intellectually muscular writers, each giving their shade on the rainbow of perspectives.

Here's the problem.  Folks want black and white.

Read More
Simon LuntstrategyComment