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Improve Decision-Making: Collaborate to Engage

This is the second of a four-part series. Part I introduced decision-driven collaboration. Upcoming posts will explore evaluation and execution.

Better decisions don’t necessarily come from the existence of better information. The information is usually somewhere in the organization, but there’s no benefit to the decision-making process unless people actually use it. Executives often don’t take full advantage of all the specialized knowledge that employees can contribute. Maybe they don’t know the information is there. Maybe they know it must be somewhere, but don’t know how to get it. Or, well, maybe they’re just not looking for it in the first place.

Improving the decision-making process comes as a result of evolving ideas around collaboration and by connecting people and empowering them to work together. Cisco IBSG calls this “Decision-Driven Collaboration” and outlines three core elements that build upon one another in the decision process:

  • Collaborate to Engage: Identify key contributors, solicit input, share ideas.
  • Collaborate to Evaluate: Shape the matter to be decided, consider viable alternatives.
  • Collaborate to Execute: Make a clear decision, align relevant parties, put it into practice.

Although the executives in an IBSG survey rated their own decision-making ability highly, the managers and individual contributors were (surprise!) not nearly as confident in the decisions handed to them to execute. Making critical strategic decisions without engaging the right people and information in your organization should be a candidate for a new definition of risk in the next edition of the dictionary, followed closely by leaping out of an airplane minus a parachute.

Just ask Borders. Borders missed the online retailing boat in a big way. How big? Read More »

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Collaborating to Improve Decision Making

Decisions have consequences. It’s a simple fact that not even my fourth grader will dispute. But if it’s so simple, why do organizations often have so much trouble making good decisions? Or, knowing the potential consequences, why do they pay little attention to how they go about the whole decision-making process?

It’s easy to find outside factors at which to point fingers when things go wrong – economy, competitors, politics, weather, Mercury in retrograde – but honesty requires that we acknowledge that internal factors and poorly made decisions are at the root of most major organizational failures. But it seems that most leaders aren’t ready for that level of self-reflection. Just ask them.

Cisco IBSG asked more than 1,000 executives to rate the ability of their companies to make successful decisions on critical issues — such as corporate strategy, acquisitions, product launches, and entering new markets — 71% chose Read More »

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Innovation Is a 10,000 Foot Free Fall

I hear so much lately about innovation with virtually every company claiming that they are innovative. Is that really true, or is it yet another over used buzz word that has no substance?  I personally see little true innovation, just claims of being innovative (who would say otherwise, right?).  One way to determine if innovative is actually taking place is to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Are you scared (just a bit)?
  2. Do you have more skeptics than advocates?
  3. If you fail, are there repercussions?
  4. How do you define failure?
  5. How much permission did you need to execute?

I especially like the skeptics vs. advocates question. It directly correlates to a safe zone that is easy to fall into. It’s where little innovation can take place – a black hole. Some of the best outcomes have occurred when there were few supporters (until it succeeded). Read More »

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Ken Blanchard Free Live Event: A Closer Look at the New Science of Motivation

Please join us for a live webinar where we will discover what the new science of motivation has to offer. Susan Fowler, best-selling author and motivation expert from The Ken Blanchard Companies, will not let you walk away closed minded when it comes to motivating yourself.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to choose a higher quality of motivational experience
  • How motivation is a skill that can be taught, learned, nurtured, and sustained
  • The three ways you can apply motivation skills – at an individual level, as a leader, or from an organizational perspective

Register now! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to shift from a quantity of motivation to a quality of motivation experience.

Details: Wednesday, October 3, 2012| 9 am PDT  |  Noon ET  | 

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Discover Your Collaboration Persona: How do you “show up” in an increasingly visual, mobile, social and virtual world?

I was lucky enough to meet GE CEO Jeff Immelt at a Cisco event some years ago and interview him on the topic of leadership.  My biggest takeaway from listening to him:  leadership is about how you “show up.”  In other words, it’s how we act and behave in everyday situations that define our leadership persona.  I’m pretty sure he meant it literally, as in how we “show up” in the physical world.

But how do we “show up” as leaders in a world where work is increasingly done on a mobile phone or tablet, or using a video chat, web conference or Telepresence?  This is one of the great leadership challenges of this hyper-connected world: as a leader you will need to know what I like to call your “Collaboration Persona” – that way in which your leadership style shows up when you’re not in the physical world.

How should you approach building your Collaboration Persona?  Here are three steps:

1)      Know yourself:  Whether it is in the physical world or virtual, how we show up should authentically represent who we are.  Click here to take a quick online assessment to discover your authentic communication style (Click on the green “Take Survey” button). This confidential assessment is a bit like the Myers-Briggs test and provides you with a customized profile of your unique communication style; it reveals how you naturally process information, and how you prefer to deliver that information to others. Most importantly, the assessment provides a simple vocabulary to communicate your style to others. Are you conceptual or analytical?  An introvert or an extrovert?

My co-author Carl Wiese and I cover this topic extensively in the third chapter of our book, The Collaboration Imperative, entitled “Get Real about Communications. Click here to learn more about The Collaboration Imperative.

2)      Know where you excel as a “Virtual Star”: Just as you play to your strengths in the real world, play to your strengths in the virtual world.  Here are some examples:

  • If you are a conceptual thinker, you will excel when the team needs someone to explain the aspirations of a decision, such as a vision. These thinkers will be good on video presentations during virtual meetings. It’s not that conceptual people aren’t good in online discussion forums where the medium calls for more precise language; it’s more about playing to the strength of conceptual thinkers – they love talking about ideas and tapping into that passion on video is a great way to play to one’s strengths.
  • If you are an analytical thinker, you will excel at “making it real” when communicating a decision to your team.  These thinkers are outstanding in virtual mediums where precision communicates best – such as online question and answer sessions and discussion forums.  Again, it’s not that analytical thinkers aren’t outstanding on video, where the communication is sometimes more free-flow; it’s that online Q&A and discussions forums play to the strong logical nature of analytical thinkers – they love communicating the steps taken, the process used, and the supporting facts of a decision.

3)      Get out there and practice on your medium:  When you align your communication style to these new forms of communication, you’ll find it easy to participate in the increasingly virtual, mobile, social and visual work environment that your teams leverage to get better, more productive results every day. You can’t underestimate how your team will appreciate your unique efforts at participation in the world they live in.

Follow me on Twitter: @RonRicciCisco

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