In today’s business world, organizations are in an ongoing war for talent. As a result, companies that are skilled at finding and developing leaders are in a good position to get ahead. To address this issue, Global Knowledge, an award-winning global organization known for its strategic solutions and strong focus on people development, created the Business Performance Framework. The framework helps identify current or potential employee gaps in the context of an organization’s environment and strategy.

In Accelerating Leadership Development, Jocelyn Bérard, vice president at Global Knowledge, outlines various processes that businesses can use to identify talent gaps, determine leadership requirements, select and develop promising talent, and promote leaders’ growth.


As organizations embark on the journey to develop leaders, the first step is creating a leadership success profile. This clearly defines what it takes to be an effective leader within an organization. A leadership success profile can be used to evaluate existing leaders, as well as individuals who have shown high potential for becoming leaders in the future.

Through research and its work with clients, Global Knowledge has identified four key components for a leadership success profile:

1. Competencies. These are defined as a set of desired behaviors in a leader. Competencies explain what an individual can do.

2. Knowledge. Knowledge may be related to the organization, products, business functions, or regulations. Knowledge explains what a leader knows.

3. Experience. This part of the profile clearly describes the situations the leader has dealt with. Experience explains what the leader has done.

4. Personal traits and motivation. The personality traits that a leader possesses help determine the results the person will be able to attain. Some traits are enablers, while others are derailers. Personality traits explain who a leader is.

For any leadership position, it is important to take a holistic view of the success profile. However, organizations also must not overlook integrity and ethics. Leaders without those qualities are unlikely to succeed.


Succession planning is a critical task for leaders. This requires looking at future potential, rather than current leadership ability. No single attribute makes a great leader, so it is necessary to evaluate candidates against a set of factors that support leadership competence. Bérard suggests that six factors predict the success of future leaders:

1. Cognitive complexity and capacity. Individuals with strong intellectual abilities thrive in chaotic and fast-changing environments.

2. Drive and achievement orientation. People who are likely to be good leaders show personal initiative, a passion for results, and a desire to change the status quo.

3. Learning orientation. Individuals with a learning orientation want to improve themselves and others.

4. Personal and business ethics. Leaders who are seen as fair, honest, and trustworthy are likely to achieve positive and lasting results in organizations.

5. Motivation to lead. People who do not shy away from leadership are comfortable defending their ideas and facing adversity.

6. Social and emotional complexity and capacity. Individuals with emotional intelligence are able to process emotionally charged information and use it to guide their actions.

One way to identify high potential leaders is through a Nine Box Grid which rates individuals based on performance (low, medium, and high) and potential (low, medium, and high). However, selecting high potential employees is just the start. Once these individuals have been identified, they must then be developed. Many organizations debate whether or not to tell people that they are in the “high potential leader” pool. The trend in progressive organizations is toward greater transparency, both for people who are considered high potential and those who are not.


After organizations identify their high potential leaders, they must determine what skills they need to develop in order to lead more effectively. To assist with this work, Global Knowledge recommends using three assessment tools:

1. Multi-Rater Survey. This is a 360-degree assessment that objectively identifies specific competency development needs.

2. Knowledge and Experience Inventory. Candidates and their immediate supervisors complete this survey that focuses on the candidates’ expertise and accomplishments.

3. The Hogan Personality Assessment Tools. The Hogan Potential Inventory is a measure of normal personality that can predict job performance and the Hogan Develop Survey identifies personality-based performance risks.

Assessment tools like these serve two purposes — they increase candidates’ self-awareness and they help organizations identify the right development solutions for high-potential leaders.


As organizations create development plans for their up-and-coming leaders, it can be helpful to focus on the 70-20-10 rule. This rule suggests that 70 percent of what people learn comes from daily experiences; 20 percent comes from peers, superiors, or other colleagues; and only 10 percent comes from formal training. Developing true expertise requires intensive practice and it must be embedded in the context of real work. Researchers have called this “deliberate practice.” Deliberate practice has six elements:

1. It must be designed to improve performance. Opportunities for practice must have a goal and evaluation criteria.

2. It must be based on authentic tasks. The practice must use real work and be performed in context.

3. The practice must be challenging. Tasks should be slightly outside the learner’s comfort zone, but not so far outside that they generate anxiety.

4. Immediate feedback must be conveyed. Accurate, diagnostic feedback should be continuously generated.

5. Time for reflection and adjustment must be allowed. These components are essential to deliberate practice.

6. Mastery takes many hours. Some experts suggest that it can take 10,000 hours to master a new skill. However, the less complex the work, the less time required to develop expertise.

Learning on the job can take a variety of forms. People can be mentored by others or they can learn through observation. Another option is job rotations. The author suggests that informal learning can be positively influenced through communities of practice, action learning, and informal learning assets. Effective communities of practice focus on knowledge creation and exchange, rather than on technology. Action learning has small teams work together on real workplace problems. Informal learning assets are digital or paper-based tools that result from organizational knowledge or formal training programs.


To ensure that leadership development happens, organizations must put monitoring and review measures in place. According to Bérard, the single most important measure of success is when the organization has a larger number of leaders who are ready for promotion to higher levels. When identifying and developing high-potential leaders, organizations are advised to “do more with less.” Rather than making the leadership pool too large, it is better to make the pool the right size to produce the required number of future leaders in a given period and devote more resources to their development. The right number of people for the pool will be dependent on the demographics of the organization.

To promote development, it is a good idea to create “learning tension” for high-potential leaders. This is a positive pressure in the form of the expectation of success. One way to create this tension is to hold regular meetings at a senior level to review the progress of high potential leaders’ development plans.

Global Knowledge has developed five steps that help ensure that development occurs and promote review of development activities:

1. Establish accountability for the execution of development plans. Organizations should always push accountability for a high-potential’s development plan one level or more above the individual’s manager.

2. Develop and implement follow up processes. These should be completed in the context of decisions that were documented in the planning phase.

3. Define and implement the communication plan. The goal is to keep participants aware of their responsibilities and results being achieved.

4. Develop a leadership dashboard and succession activities using lead and lag measures. Lead measures are indicators of progress, while lag measures reflect the results achieved versus the initial targets.

5. Plan and execute reviews of high potentials’ development and incorporate lessons learned. Succession management committees must monitor candidates’ progress and assessment results. This information will inform when individuals are ready for promotion.


An important skill for leaders today is coaching. Effective coaching is a powerful conversation that is characterized in the following way: it is empowering, creative, future-oriented, and focused on improvement. Coaching is not teaching, a pep talk, delegation, a performance review, counseling, or progressive discipline.

The coaching model used by Global Knowledge has four steps:

1. Initiate. A solid coaching relationship requires a foundation of trust and respect. A coach needs to find the right time to approach the other person and gain a commitment to proceed.

2. Clarify. Listening is a key skill for coaches. To gather the necessary information, coaches may use three types of questions: open-ended, clarifying, and confirming.

3. Explore. There are three actions in this step: reposition, identify alternatives, and select alternatives. Repositioning gets people past their built-in limits. It is important for coaches and those being coached to jointly select a path forward.

4. Act. In this phase, the coaching plan is laid out and next steps are established to keep people accountable.


Research has found that highly motivated employees are the most engaged and productive people in organizations. As a result, leaders need to find actions that will motivate others to fully engage in their work and achieve results. Global Knowledge focuses on four key drivers of motivation:

1. Autonomy. Individuals naturally seek autonomy in the workplace. They want to set their own direction and have some say in what they do and how they do it.

2. Mastery. This relates to a person’s inner drive to continually get better at something that matters to him or her. As people acquire mastery, they try to align the level and type of work they do with their abilities and interests.

3. Purpose. Most employees want their work to make a difference.

4. Self-expression. Employees increasingly want to feel they can be themselves at work.

Beyond these four factors, other potential drivers of motivation are the organization, the employee, the manager, colleagues, and clients. In addition to providing recognition, great leaders give feedback to employees.


Communication is essential for leaders. It demonstrates one’s positive traits, creates buy-in, builds employee engagement, and reflects one’s honesty and authenticity. Research has found that only 10 percent of communication is verbal. Half is non-verbal and 40 percent is paraverbal. As a result, leaders need to recognize that how they convey a message is as important as what they convey in the message.

Global Knowledge recommends using the Know-Understand-Believe-Act or KUBA model to make communication more effective and influential.

*Know. Leaders must convey the essence of their message as clearly and specifically as possible. The key question to answer is, “What are the facts?”

*Understand. The audience must understand the details. People want a solid context and will ask questions to confirm their understanding. The key questions to answer are, “Why do we need to do this? Why have we decided that?”

*Believe. The audience must believe in the value of what a leader asks them to do and believe that they can accomplish it. This is the buy-in phase. The key question to answer is, “What are the benefits for the people receiving the message or for other stakeholders?”

*Act. In many circumstances, a leader’s communication will lead to an action. People will be committed to act only if they know, understand, and believe the message.

Effective communicators clearly understand what motivates and inspires others. Storytelling can be a powerful way to illustrate and convey ideas. Powerful stories have four characteristics:

1. Purpose. The speaker focuses on the essentials and knows why they are telling the story.

2. People. The story talks about real characters.

3. Plot. The story has a beginning, middle, and end.

4. Place. The story is situated in a place that the audience can visualize.


Delegation is an important skill for leaders at every level. The Delegation Model is a helpful way to align a delegation style with the characteristics of individuals and tasks. There are three basic delegation styles:

1. Teaching. This approach is suitable for team members who are new to the task, low in ability, or low in motivation. Teaching requires detailed instructions on how to perform a task.

2. Sharing. This approach works well for team members who are somewhat experienced, but not proficient in the task. It is also useful for people with moderate ability or moderate motivation. Sharing means co-owning responsibility.

3. Transferring. This technique is appropriate for team members who are experienced, proficient, or high in ability. Transferring means turning over most of the task ownership from the leader to the team member.

Strategic delegation provides individuals with knowledge of an aspect of the business that they had not been exposed to previously. With all types of delegation, it is important to remember that leaders do not lose accountability for a task even if it has been delegated.

Feedback is another essential aspect of leadership. Good feedback is timely, specific, consistent, clear, direct, sincere, open, comfortable, and genuine. Through actionable feedback, leaders can help team members build their strengths, improve performance, and feel greater motivation.


To achieve their goals, leaders must influence others. Global Knowledge suggests that leaders must master four skill sets to become an effective and influential leader:

1. Develop awareness. Influential leaders do many of the same things as a good salesperson. They listen attentively, determine needs and wants, and then use that information to influence the other party.

2. Establish credibility. Credibility is the cornerstone of influencing efforts. Credibility is based on reliability, capability, and integrity. It is built through actions

3. Identify key stakeholders. Leaders who work in flat or nontraditional organizational structures determine upfront who they need to influence to achieve their business objectives. If the audience is complicated, an influence map can be helpful.

4. Build collaborative networks. Internal networking is essential for leaders. Being well connected and well respected are key to gaining information and resources.


To ensure that their teams get results, leaders must align employees with the organization’s broader business plan. One way to accomplish this is to establish a “line of sight” that outlines how each person’s work contributes to the overall business plan. A line of sight engages employees, so they see how their work adds value to the organization overall. Global Knowledge has found that a three step process works well for establishing a line of sight:

1. Make the connection. Leaders must create clarity about the organization’s strategy and align its purpose with individuals’ objectives.

2. Add value. Leaders must explain to employees why their work is critical to the organization.

3. Tell a story. Storytelling brings line of sight to life with a personal touch.

Once the line of sight has been created, leaders may rely on a performance management system to monitor how employees’ work is contributing to the business plan. Conversations about performance should be a regular, informal event. Smart companies will link performance and salary, but they hold focused discussions around each topic separately.


Assuming a new leadership role can be a rough transition. It requires learning new skills and unlearning habits that were helpful as an individual contributor, but are not useful as a leader. Global Knowledge has identified four elements that make the transition to leadership more successful:

1. Shift the mindset. Leaders need to perform through their teams, rather than as individuals.

2. Identify opportunities for development. Most new leaders can benefit from developing leadership skills and acquiring traditional business skills.

3. Allocate time as a people leader. New leaders must continually evaluate which tasks and decisions are priorities, as well as which tasks can be either delegated or eliminated.

4. Earn respect and establish credibility. A good place for new leaders to start is by being good at their former jobs. Respect and credibility can only be earned if people walk the talk and practice what they preach.


Effective onboarding programs establish a plan for a new employee’s early success. The faster new hires begin working productively, the sooner they make positive contributions to the organization. Modern onboarding processes are holistic because they focus on knowledge, values, and motivations, skills and competencies, relationship building, and other key linkages between the organization and employees. Although HR plays a role, so does everyone else in the organization.

Holistic onboarding programs can benefit from the 70-20-10 learning paradigm. Based on this rule, 10 percent of onboarding might be formal courses, 20 percent might involve pairing a new hire with a company “buddy” so the new hire can learn by watching others, and 70 percent might expose the employee to projects to learn about the organization’s culture and products.

Global Knowledge has developed a structured approach to onboarding that has four phases and is usually completed in 90 days.

1. Anticipate. The first phase begins when an employee accepts an offer. It may include a preview of the first few weeks on the job and is intended to reduce anxiety.

2. Align. The second phase begins on the employee’s first day. It involves presenting the organization’s goals and specific expectations to the new employee.

3. Accelerate. The accelerate phase speeds up new employees’ confidence through activities designed to help them develop a network and job skills.

4. Activate. The last phase begins after the employee is fully capable of completing basic tasks associated with the role. The new hire continues to expand his or her internal network in new ways.


Technology is transforming the way people learn and how organizations can develop employees. Experts divide learning into three modes:

1. Formal learning. This is usually accomplished through a self-contained, scheduled learning event.

2. Informal learning. This is a learning opportunity without conventional structure.

3. Social learning. This is an exchange of ideas or information through friendly interactions online.

Striking the right balance between the three is essential. The right mix depends on the level of experience and knowledge among employees. A particularly effective form of informal learning is communities of practice. These unite people with a shared interest. They deepen their knowledge through communicating with others on an ongoing basis. Although social learning is not a new concept, it has been reborn through technology. No matter how the digital world evolves, social learning is here to stay.

Apply RESPECT for employee


Organizations deliver superior results when their employees feel satisfied with their jobs. In RESPECT, Jack Wiley and Brenda Kowske use data from surveys of over 200,000 workers to distill employee satisfaction into seven fundamental needs: recognition, exciting work, security of employment, pay, education and career growth, conditions at work, and truth (RESPECT). They argue that employers who meet these needs not only reduce turnover, but outperform their competitors financially. Most importantly, Wiley and Kowske show why giving employees what they want is a marketplace imperative–as well as the right thing to do.


By making sure employees feel fulfilled in their jobs, companies can optimize the value of their workforces. Not only are satisfied employees more likely to stay with firms, but the authors’ surveys show that they outperform those who are dissatisfied. Among the most eye-opening findings of the research is that 75 percent of what employees want at work is not about money; their other desires are nearly as important. These fundamental desires are summarized by the acronym RESPECT:

*Recognition: A “pat on the back” from managers and from the firm. Too often, managers fail to take the time to recognize a job well done.

*Exciting work: Jobs that are interesting, challenging, and enjoyable. Employees also want to feel that they are good at what they do and are able to use the skills they possess.

*Security of employment: Job security. Employees do not want to worry about being downsized.

*Pay: Fair compensation. Being paid enough is critical to employees, but pay beyond the fairness threshold is not highly motivational.

*Education and career growth: Opportunities to develop skills. People want to feel they can advance and progress in their careers.

*Conditions at work: Surroundings that are safe and comfortable, both physically and socially. Basic physical features of the workplace are important, like ventilation and air quality, but employees also need positive social conditions, like a friendly environment and work/life balance.

*Truth: Leaders who are honest and open. Balanced feedback and clear performance goals are also key contributors to satisfaction.


Giving employees what they want yields benefits on both sides. It does not come at the employer’s expense; instead, it enhances organizational success. Providing the elements of RESPECT raises the level of engagement among employees. This means they are enthusiastic, committed, take pride in their work, and are willing to apply discretionary efforts to help achieve organizational goals. Additionally, they see their organizations as winners in the marketplace and feel good about being a part of them.

Organizations with satisfied workers tend to be better than competitors at fulfilling customer needs and building customer loyalty. This increases revenue and market share. Importantly, the stock performance of such companies also beats that of firms less focused on their employees’ desires, making RESPECT-oriented organizations more appealing to investors.

Finally, giving RESPECT is simply the right thing to do. In today’s world, the workplace is central to most people’s lives, and it is reasonable for them to expect fair, ethical, and considerate treatment while on the job.


Feeling that their good work is recognized is essential to employee satisfaction. People long to be acknowledged as valuable members of a team and appreciated for more than the dollars they generate. Part of the recognition they seek is balanced feedback, not just as a reward to productive workers, but also as a stimulus to those who need it.

Because employees try hard to please their bosses, receiving recognition from managers is especially motivational. In fact, managers who are perceived as giving appropriate recognition are also assessed much more favorably than others; this applies to managers at all levels of organizations, not just those at the top or bottom. The following factors contribute to how employees feel about the recognition they receive:

*Timeliness: The sooner recognition is offered for an action, the more powerful it will be.

*Specificity: The most useful recognition focuses on a specific behavior or performance.

*Frequency: To be effective, recognition needs to be provided more often than solely at an annual performance review.

*Fairness and accurateness: Recognition should clearly go beyond lip service.

*Helpfulness: The most useful recognition helps employees understand why their actions made a positive difference.

Proven methods to improve the recognition of employees include:

*Identifying employee preferences: People may differ significantly in what types of recognition are meaningful to them.

*Making informal recognition a habit: Simple, inexpensive techniques are among the most impactful.

*Communicating success: While face-to-face communication is best, email, text messaging, and even voicemails can all be effective in providing timely recognition.

*Establishing clear criteria and policies for formal programs: People need to know they are competing for recognition on a level playing field.

*Creating opportunities for contact with higher managers: Employees feel particularly appreciated when senior managers offer recognition to those on the front line.

*Training managers in recognition: Best practices and techniques for recognizing employees can be learned like other business skills.

*Using training opportunities as a form of recognition: When appropriate, career growth and development opportunities can be potent ways to show appreciation.


People want their work to excite them; in other words, they want it to be satisfying and interesting. Unfortunately, the authors found that 40 percent of employees around the globe are not excited by what they do every day. Five conditions of work make it exciting:

  1. Having been cross-trained. This type of learning exposes people to new situations and brings a sense of hope and opportunity.
  2. Working in research and development. Being part of pioneering R&D efforts creates an exciting feeling of blazing new trails and anticipating the unknown.
  3. Working in an expatriate assignment. This type of work excites people because they are forging new opportunities on a new frontier.
  4. Working remotely. Remote workers feel independent and self-confident, factors which contribute to a sense of excitement.
  5. Working for a nonprofit organization. Mission-driven jobs help people feel fulfilled and part of efforts that benefit society.

Exciting, satisfying work significantly improves employee retention. Among the major contributors to such work are:

*Clear expectations. People need to know that their responsibilities are reasonable and compatible with other demands.

*Identification with work. When employees understand their organizations’ goals or value their missions, they are more likely to identify with them and contribute more of themselves to what they do.

*Sense of accomplishment. People get satisfaction from seeing the results of their efforts.

*Responsibility. Employees want the ability to make decisions and otherwise take responsibility for their work.

*Feedback and recognition. Feedback makes employees feel good by reinforcing what they do well and helping them improve.

Organizations can take four basic steps to help employees feel excited by their work:

  1. Conduct realistic job previews. Prospective hires should receive both positive and negative information about the job. This helps them trust the hiring manager and feel confident about what to expect.
  2. Participate with employees to understand their feelings. High-level managers should listen to the employees who report to their direct reports. They will get new ideas about products and services as well as insight about what excites the workers.
  3. Recognize employees for jobs well done. A simple “thank you” is both powerful and low cost.
  4. Remember to have fun. Social activities for teams help build personal relationships and enhance workplace energy.


When employees feel insecure about their jobs, they exhibit poor attitudes and decreased commitment. They are also more likely to consider quitting than those who have a sense of job security. Employees will not feel secure unless they trust the leadership of their organizations. They want managers to be skilled, competent, benevolent, and ethical because these qualities help ensure that their organizations will be able to provide jobs in the long term. While job security is, in part, a function of broad economic trends, there are concrete actions employers can take to boost employees’ feelings of security. These include:

*Clarifying the employment proposition. People want to know that their organizations will be committed to their employees if the market weakens. Employee engagement deteriorates when companies downsize in response to business declines; conversely, stable organizations that avoid layoffs are the strongest financial performers.

*Sharing information openly. Employees think and act more like owners when given the information they need to understand company finances and challenges.

*Preparing employees for new opportunities. People know that market circumstances can change quickly, so they appreciate when their employer helps them build skills to prepare for the future.

*Being flexible and creating flexibility. Employees are more secure, engaged, and committed when they do not feel chained to a task or physical space.


Everyone works for pay. While people do not always work solely for pay, they expect to be compensated fairly, and they see raises as indicators that they are valued by their organizations. Those who feel they are not receiving the pay they deserve show reduced commitment to their jobs and increased motivation to quit. Benefits like healthcare insurance have become increasingly important, but money retains a primary role in employee satisfaction. This is especially evident among those earning relatively low salaries.

Fair pay has a strong positive impact on business. It not only helps attract and retain top talent, but also lowers absenteeism and increases employee engagement, productivity, and motivation. To enhance the delivery of fair compensation, organizations can take these actions:

*Review compensation packages with employees. People should be aware of how their compensation compares to the market.

*Create an annual compensation review. Each year, employees should receive a one-page summary of all the pay and benefits they receive, including items they might overlook like retirement plan contributions.

*Give time off. This can be a low-cost but meaningful reward for a job well done.

*Explain the benefits package to new hires. Managers should not assume that newcomers read and understand all the details.

*Remind employees about benefits. Some companies provide low-profile forms of compensation like tuition assistance or transportation subsidies. Managers should ensure that employees are aware of such benefits.


Humans are innately motivated to learn and grow. In addition, people see career education as a way to achieve their goals and increase their compensation. According to the authors’ research, the risk of losing talent drops by more than half at firms that provide opportunities for development. Providing education is most important when turnover is high, job demands change frequently, the business is unique or complex, and workers with needed skills are hard to find.

Companies with significant training and education investments enjoy higher net sales and gross profits than other firms. They are better prepared than competitors to deal with the looming managerial shortage predicted to occur as Baby Boomers retire. Also, they are well positioned to avoid the so-called “glass ceiling,” where female employees fail to advance into senior executive ranks in part because they lack training opportunities at the mid-manager level.

Different employers will have their own specific training and educational needs. However, there are some basic approaches that can help many organizations improve the employee experience of education and growth:

*Develop a thorough employee orientation process. This is an excellent time to provide information about programs and expectations.

*Create employee education and growth plans. Individually, employees should be informed of specific areas where they could benefit from skill development.

*Evaluate the organization’s education and training programs. While it is difficult to measure the financial impact of such programs, organizations can readily survey employees about their perceived value.

*Promote job posting systems. This boosts employees’ confidence that they will know when a good job comes along.

*Hold workshops or informal sessions. “Brown bag” lunches or other gatherings can be used to share career trends and bring in guest speakers to address their own development experiences.

*Use education and training to prepare employees for career moves. For example, a strong performer would appreciate being given special managerial training in anticipation of future openings.


Positive working conditions are critical to employees. They want physical conditions that are comfortable and safe, as well as social conditions that foster cooperative, supportive, friendly environments with minimal stress.

Physical conditions are generally related to health and safety and may include such features as noise, lighting, temperature, and cleanliness. Before an organization can effectively address physical issues, it should seek to understand specific factors of concern to workers. These could involve processes, policies, or practices. To improve physical conditions, organizations should consider:

*Spreading the word about resources. Not everyone always knows about resources like special equipment for the disabled or late-night taxi reimbursement.

*Prevent problems. For example, an employee in a noisy area could be given earplugs.

*Provide safety education. Workers should receive training, and companies should monitor compliance with safety procedures.

Positive social conditions generally stem from teamwork and cooperation. Employees who feel part of interdependent team efforts experience improved work/life balance and reduced work stress. These features are especially important when workers are learning new skills, are new hires, or need multiple areas of expertise in their jobs. Among effective actions organizations can take to bolster teamwork and cooperation are:

*Creating understanding and sharing information. As teams become larger, it becomes increasingly important to plan discussions of employee skills, abilities, talents, and work or project histories.

*Identifying best practices. Often, the best ideas for improving performance in a job come from employees who are doing similar jobs. Managers should solicit this input.

*Build team spirit and commitment. Events like annual retreats and off-site meetings emphasize the significance of team efforts and offer opportunities to recognize and reward team accomplishments.


Honest communication is the foundation for trust. Employees want truthfulness in the forms of information from management, performance feedback, and general communication in the workplace. Employees who lack accurate, timely information cannot make good decisions and become angry, resentful, and distrustful. Moreover, research shows that leaders cannot be effective when employees do not believe them. Despite this, one-third of executives simply do not know where their organizations are headed, and thus lack credible information to share.

Feedback is commonly seen as information provided during an annual appraisal, in addition to recognition for specific accomplishments. In reality, feedback is communicated through cues that employees receive every day, such as the facial expressions of bosses. HR departments and management should ensure that evaluations include not only hard metrics but also ongoing, softer measures reflecting how a person interacts with others to get his or her job done. Otherwise, formal evaluations can be unsettling and even counterproductive. In the case of high potential employees, insufficient feedback may cause them to underestimate their abilities and set goals too low, or become too confident and overreach.

Organizations need to foster a culture of truthfulness. To do so, they can take these actions:

*Keep employees updated. Management should share key operational and financial results in an ongoing, comprehensible way.

*Provide upward communication. There should be formal mechanisms for employees to share ideas. When creating tools like employee engagement surveys, organizations should remember that what they choose to measure reflects their values.

*Share performance feedback regularly. Providing corrective feedback throughout the year enables employees to make small, continual improvements.

*Spread information throughout the organization. Senior executives need to be visible to low-level work groups and managers.

*Conduct town hall meetings. Held at three- to six-month intervals, these are effective forums for leaders to present new information, answer questions, and build confidence in their truthfulness.

*Encourage upward communication among managers. There should be opportunities for low- and mid-level managers to discuss concerns with senior leadership.




TTW is a habitual mindset that can be mastered by anyone and applied to any aspect of life. The process begins with applying the following five foundational TTW principles to every situation:

1. Challenge assumptions. In TTW, nothing is a given. Individuals must approach every issue with an open mind.

2. Scope the issue. Situations must be properly scoped so that people understand and are in agreement upon exactly what they are addressing. Inadequate scoping means wasted time and energy and opens the door to scope creep, which occurs when a project becomes larger than it was intended to be.

3. Rely on facts and data. Facts and data (rather than assumptions or persuasive presentations) must provide the foundation for any plan. Individuals must explore the depths and breadth of evidence to ensure there is enough of the right data to make informed decisions.

4. Focus on the vital few. Taking on too many issues at the same time can result in goals not being accomplished properly. Working off the 80-20 rule, TTW postulates that addressing the most critical 10 percent of issues will positively impact 90 percent of the whole.

5. Connect the dots. Individuals must recognize the interrelatedness of factors and elements within a whole and make sure all connections are addressed. A narrow approach is rarely a successful approach. “Linkage, linkage, linkage” should be the mantra for TTW.


Talent, charisma, and serendipity are all great qualities, but they are not the key to winning in today’s marketplace. Rather, the key to winning is effective strategic thinking. TTW drives this type of thinking by integrating the above five foundational principles into a process that results in a winning strategic plan.

The TTW process can be envisioned as an hourglass into which information is funneled, inspiring more specific and focused questions. As data flows through the narrowing of the hourglass, it is refined for specificity, leading to key insights and implications that inform the goals and objectives as well as possible strategies and courses of action that expand into the bottom of the hourglass. The entire process is geared toward answering the following questions, in order:

  1. What facts are known?
  2. What is most important to address?
  3. What is the key competitive differentiator?
  4. What are the key insights that emerge, and why do they matter?
  5. What is the organization’s purpose and position?
  6. What should the goal be?
  7. What choices must be made to achieve that goal?
  8. Was the effort successful?

The first step in the process is creating an umbrella statement, which addresses what the issue is, why the issue is important, the implications of not addressing the issue, and who should be involved in the decision-making process. Effective umbrella statements are clear, focused, and compelling, and they direct the rest of the process.

Once an umbrella statement is defined, data related to the umbrella statement flows into the hourglass. This data can be categorized for manageability according to the seven Cs:

  1. Category.
  2. Company.
  3. Customer.
  4. Consumer
  5. Community.
  6. Colleagues.
  7. Competitors.

Once data is categorized, a SWOT analysis can be performed on the results to analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats relative to the data and the issue. The goal of the SWOT analysis is to identify the strategic competitive advantage (SCA) that undeniably sets a company ahead of its competition. Examples of an SCA include a breakthrough product, superior supply chain, special knowledge or capabilities, or even strong brand equity.


Unearthing key insights takes place at the halfway point of the process (the narrowing of the hourglass). These insights inform the rest of the process and often appear as aha moments, which will not be forgotten once they are realized.

Key insights must be actionable and address the umbrella statement. These insights are critical to identifying the key issues and setting the direction for the remainder of the TTW work. For maximum effectiveness, there should be no more than four to six key issues addressed in the TTW process.

Once the key issues are defined, the implications of those issues must be defined as well. Implications explain the what and why of the key issue and create a bridge to taking action.


A vision is a view of the future–the end state the organization hopes to achieve through its strategic plan. Creating a vision marks the entry into the bottom half of the hourglass, where the convergent thinking that led to key insights and issues transforms into divergent thinking that results in goals and plans.

An effective vision addresses how to position an organization for success. Visions should be simple, concise, clear, and compelling–and ideally come in the form of one sentence that everyone can easily remember. Good visions are unifying and serve to shape an organization’s values and culture.

Governing statements are visions that apply to parts of a company, such as a division. Good governing statements similarly unify efforts in one strategic direction. When Procter & Gamble unified each of its divisions under governing statements, rather than managing products as separate entities, the company was able to achieve 30 percent growth.

Visions and governing statements are living entities, derived from the situation assessment that takes place in the first half of the hourglass. As such, they should regularly be revisited and adjusted to respond to changes in the business environment.

Goals are the natural outgrowth from visions and governing statements. Goals stimulate the action component of the TTW process. It is very important for goals to be balanced across the four elements common to most businesses and institutions:

  1. People.
  2. Organization.
  3. Marketplace.
  4. Finance.

All too often companies focus on financial goals almost exclusively, even though the other three elements can have just as strong of an impact on their success. A balanced scorecard model can help ensure all four elements are addressed.

Once goals are established, there must be methods in place for assessing progress toward achieving those goals. Goals can be assessed through the following three Ms:

1. Measures: What will be assessed, such as sales or earnings.

2. Metrics: The relevant quantifying data, such as growth percentages or financial targets.

3. Milestones: The timeframe for achieving specific targets.

Goals and the three Ms must be explicit. The goals themselves must be challenging, but not unrealistic. Setting too low of a bar will not achieve the desired results. Setting too high a bar will be demoralizing.


Choosing a winning strategy can be risky, but that risk is minimized when a sound strategy development model is used. TTW provides such a model, allowing strategic choices to naturally unfold as a consequence of asking three questions:

  1. Which of the business’s key competencies would be most valued in the marketplace?
  2. What are other unanswered marketplace needs the business could respond to?
  3. What is required to become the market leader?

Even with the answers to these questions in hand, there are still a number of strategic options to consider when it comes to executing in the marketplace. Brainstorming is one method for identifying various strategic options, as are aha moments and spontaneous insights.

Once a number of strategic options have been defined, the next step is further refinement through inquiry. Considerations in choosing which strategies to follow include the level of difficulty in following through, enablers and barriers to execution, and which strategies are critical and which would simply be “nice to do.” Even if a particular strategy is discarded, it is worth documenting in the event it becomes more relevant in the future.


Successful execution depends on a firm grounding of strategic initiatives in the situation assessment component of the TTW as well as strong, coordinated teamwork. Strategic initiatives must be specific in defining what people are supposed to do. Good strategies are not only about asking the right questions, but also about putting the right people in place to do the work. Thoughtfulness in team composition as well as ensuring a collaborative mind-set are essential for driving action that accomplishes strategic objectives.

After objectives are selected, they must be managed to meet scope, time, and costs. These three components must be kept in balance. A change in one variable will undoubtedly create change in the others.

Defining responsibilities ensures the right work gets done by the right people. An accountability matrix can help label individuals in terms of their roles in particular actions. This matrix helps identify whether individuals are accountable, collaborators, or stakeholders.


Successful strategy execution depends on getting everyone in the organization aligned with the process and moving in the right direction to achieve organizational objectives. Compelling and timely communication is essential in accomplishing that alignment and action.

Key messages provide the foundation for strategic communications by answering a few questions:

*What is the current challenge?

*What is the business going to do about it?

*What will the results of these efforts be?

Messages must capture attention, convey a sense of urgency, and clearly describe not only what needs to be done, but also the expected results. Therefore, every key message must address the situation, the action to be taken, and the impact of that action in a compelling way that engages the audience. Key messages should be able to relate back to the SWOT analysis and target only the most important critical initiatives.

Visions are the highest level of strategic messaging. Like key messages, visions must be engaging and compelling, but they must also be unique and concise so they are easily remembered and internalized. Visions can be linked with compensation to ensure people are focused on them and applying them in their performance.

It is very important for leaders to become good communicators so they can provide direction to their organizations. Additionally, communication must be managed on an ongoing basis, beginning with annual meetings and working downward into quarterly and weekly updates. Communication should be an ongoing loop of consistent and aligned information-sharing that informs and engages organizations.


TTW is not simply a process to be cycled through in order to achieve a specific objective or end state; rather, it is a mind-set that should be embedded into every level of an organization. The change TTW brings about is anchored within organizations through unifying symbols and rituals that reinforce its principles.

By providing training and sharing the TTW experience, leaders can create a common language and frame of reference for its principles. Making more productive use of meetings, championing accountability, recognizing TTW successes, and empowering the Human Resources (HR) function to assist in transforming the organization are all methods for anchoring change.


TTW is ongoing. Once one issue is addressed, the process invites leaders to address the next issue, plan for the future, or revisit a previous issue. As TTW competency develops within an organization, the process of asking critical questions becomes second nature. TTW is especially useful in today’s multi-generational work environment. By providing a common language and approach, TTW easily bridges generational differences.

TTW’s fact-based, structured approach encourages creative thinking and can be transformational in the annual strategic planning processes, which traditionally are often not much more than a rehash of previous presentations with a focus on minimizing risk. TTW works well with both for-profit and non-profit organizations and is as useful for individuals in making personal decisions as it is for business professionals charting strategic corporate paths.

Great Leaders GROW


IMG_7839In Great Leaders Grow, best-selling business author Ken Blanchard teams with Chick-fil-A vice president Mark Miller to guide executives on the path to becoming great leaders. The authors assert that while personal growth is the key to staying on that path, it is also the reason so many leaders fail to be effective in the long term. Great Leaders Grow helps leaders not only understand why they need to grow, but also offers practical advice for making this growth happen. Through the story of Blake Brown, a young man embarking on his first job, Blanchard and Miller illustrate what it takes to grow as a leader and how it affects everyday decisions.


Blake Brown is a recent college graduate starting his first job and discovering what it means to be a leader. While Blake is unsure how to become a leader at 22 with so little experience, he uses his late father’s words of wisdom, “You can be a leader,” as motivation. Blake wonders what it really means to be a leader, and how to go about becoming one. He turns to his mentor, Debbie, who points out that his definition of “leader” is too narrow.

Debbie explains that leaders are not just the people in charge, but rather people who influence the thinking, beliefs, or development of others. Leadership does not always accompany a job title. For example, when most people are asked who has had the greatest impact on their lives, they will not point to a supervisor or a boss. Instead, they will point to a grandparent, a parent, a sibling, or a friend.

There are two critical qualities that all great leaders must have:

1. The desire to serve. Great leaders want to serve others, and they genuinely see their role as servant coming before their own self-interests. Those who do not want to serve will never be great leaders.

2. The willingness to grow. Poor leaders think they already have all the answers, and they continue to work and lead the way they always have. Great leaders never think they are done growing, changing, or learning. They know that as the world changes, they must change along with it.

Individuals must grow as leaders before they can assume formal leadership roles. Debbie explains to Blake that the greatest leaders throughout history were prepared and ready to take on leadership roles when the opportunity arose, and it is never too early for him to start growing as a leader.


Great leaders live to serve others more than themselves. However, by focusing on serving their employees and their organizations, these leaders do help themselves in the end. A leader’s motivation and reasoning is critical; those motivated primarily by self-interests will not succeed.

As Blake begins to learn more about the qualities of great leaders, Debbie stresses the idea that all great leaders are servant leaders. Blake finds the term “servant leader” hard to reconcile with his image of a leader. To him, a servant leader sounds like someone who tries to please everyone without really making decisions or leading. Debbie clarifies the role of a servant leader by explaining the two critical aspects of leadership:

1. Vision/Direction: What is the end goal? Great leaders establish the vision/direction, and then ensure that their employees understand and can clearly see it. Employees need to be focused on the overall mission, or what the organization is trying to accomplish.

2. Implementation: How will the team reach the end goal? Great leaders serve others so they can reach their final goal. These leaders know that the key to making the organization’s vision a reality is to ensure their employees have the necessary tools and skills for the journey.

Unfortunately, Debbie points out that it is uncommon to see leaders who embody these two servant leadership qualities. Blake wonders why there are so few servant leaders, and why so many leaders become corrupt and fail their employees and organizations. Debbie explains that there are two primary reasons:

1. Ego. Those in leadership positions often fall prey to an overabundance of confidence and pride.

2. Fear. Leaders often have a fear of losing control.

Ego and fear combined make it very difficult for leaders to see beyond their own interests and focus on serving others. A lack of education about this kind of leadership and of positive servant-leader role models are also responsible for the shortage of servant leaders.

Ultimately, Debbie tells Blake that being a servant leader is a choice. Leaders must choose to behave this way, and then choose to be dedicated to this path. This is where the growing aspect of leadership comes into play.


Just as in life, those who are not growing within the business world are dying. Leaders who do not grow will stagnate and their businesses will as well. Stagnated leaders apply yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems; they are not ready to face new challenges or opportunities. Instead of adapting to a changing landscape, they continue to operate the way they always have.

GROW is an acronym that leaders can use to remember the essential and different ways they must continue to grow. The acronym also helps apply the authors’ ideas about leadership growth to day-to-day life and work:

* Gaining knowledge.

* Reaching out to others.

* Opening their world.

* Walking toward wisdom.


The first growth area is gaining knowledge. Leaders gain knowledge by becoming students, particularly in four critical areas:

1. Self-knowledge. Leading well starts with self-awareness. Great leaders are acutely aware of their strengths and weaknesses, their passions, their leadership styles, and their personality types. They also realize how these aspects of their personalities affect their lives and work.

2. Others. Leading well means understanding the team well. Great leaders serve, and serving is not possible without in-depth knowledge of those being served. Who are they? What are their interests, their hopes and dreams, and their passions? What are their fears and their career aspirations? How do they want to be rewarded for a job well done?

3. Industry. Knowledge of the industry is also critical. Where is it going, and where has it been? Who are the major competitors?

4. Field of leadership. Great leaders need to gain knowledge about the field of leadership. What is the latest thinking? What is the latest research? What are other great leaders doing? What lessons can be learned from those who have failed? What new skills are needed?

Gaining knowledge in the above four areas is essential to becoming and remaining a great leader. It is not hard to gain this knowledge; it is simply a matter of making a commitment to and focusing on knowledge accumulation. Debbie uses a skiing analogy to explain the importance of leaders gaining knowledge to Blake. In a slalom competition, if a skier misses the first gate, he or she is disqualified and the race is over. Gaining knowledge is a leader’s “first gate.” Leaders need to get through this gate to successfully continue on course.

Debbie expands her skiing analogy to illustrate impediments to leaders gaining knowledge:

* Too much speed. Slalom skiers miss gates when they are going too fast, either because they are pressing too hard or they do not know their limitations. Likewise, many leaders lose focus when trying to do too much, too fast.

* Lack of preparation. Skiers miss gates when they have not studied the course well enough. Similarly, many leaders are unwilling to take the time to prepare, or, in other words, take the time to grow.

* Distraction. Distractions come in many forms, both external and internal. Skiers and leaders cannot afford distractions.

Finally, great leaders do not simply gain knowledge and move on. Gaining knowledge is an ongoing, never-ending process for them. It is a part of their leadership strategies, their jobs, and their lives. As Blake navigates his first job out of college, he attempts to gain lasting experience in all four critical knowledge areas:

1. Self-knowledge. Blake decides to pursue self-knowledge through an assessment offered by his new company’s human resources department. He finds this tool to be an excellent way to learn more about his personality and preferences. With this new knowledge, he finds it easier to utilize his strengths and work with others.

2. Others. Being new to the company, Blake is unsure about gaining knowledge of others. There are not any “others” he will be leading; he is not even in a leadership position. Debbie explains that to grow into a leadership position, he must know the people on his team extremely well. He does this by having lunch with a team member as often as possible, striving to learn the stories of those he works with, and asking colleagues to help him understand the personalities of others.

3. Industry. Learning about his industry is perhaps the easiest step for Blake. As the “new guy,” he is in an ideal position to ask a lot of questions. Early on, he asks a colleague how he can learn more about both the industry and the competition.

4. Leadership. Finally, to grow his leadership skills, Blake watches DVDs of his father’s speeches and presentations on leadership. While Blake feels guilty about choosing to watch DVDs instead of reading about leadership, Debbie explains that reading is not the only way to learn about leadership. She tells Blake that not every leader is a reader, but every leader is a learner.

After starting his new job, Blake quickly learns first-hand that leaders who do not gain knowledge will fail to grow. His new company is losing important customers, and no one is sure why. Blake realizes that part of growing as a leader is keeping up with changes in the industry and changes in customers’ wants and needs. The leaders at his company have failed to do both, and he can see the results of this lack of growth.


As leaders work to grow their leadership skills, they must remember that it will not always be easy. Bumps in the road are inevitable, but they are also critical for growth. Faced with obstacles, leaders must develop new skills and new ways of thinking, which both lead to growth.

The second growth area, reaching out to others, proves that an important part of personal growth is helping others to grow. One of the best ways to really learn something is to teach it to someone else. This can be either formal, in a classroom or mentoring setting, or through informal, day-to-day teachable moments. It is not just about imparting information to someone else; it is also about encouraging others to learn and grow by asking them questions and probing them to think. Great leaders must share information and ask probing questions as part of their teaching.

Blake initially balks at the suggestion to reach out to others in his new job. How can someone who has been on the job for just a few weeks teach anyone anything? Debbie encourages him to ask questions; by asking questions, he will force others to clarify their thoughts and learn new things. By asking his teammates questions about how the organization operates and solves problems, he will force them to see situations in a new light and more clearly. For example, when Blake is on a cross-functional team tasked with discovering why so many clients are defecting to competitors, one of his jobs is to interview current and former clients, as well as executives within the organization. Blake starts by asking exactly what questions his team wants answered in the interviews, and who will be the audience for the presentation of this information. By asking these questions, he forces them to clarify their thinking about the team’s mission and the kind of information they need from their interviews.


The third way leaders can grow is by opening their worlds–both at work and outside of it. Leaders excel when they branch out and seek to gain new life and leadership experiences. Therefore, good leaders are always looking for new experiences that will help them become better leaders. There are various ways leaders can open their worlds at work:

* Spending time working at a client’s facility.

* Listening to customer calls.

* Joining a cross-functional team.

* Talking to recent retirees.

* Meeting with leaders from other departments.

Leaders can also open their worlds outside work by:

* Travelling.

* Taking up a new hobby.

* Reading a wide variety of books.

* Volunteering.

* Experiencing the arts through museums and plays.

Blake opens his world by teaching English as a second language in his spare time. Leaders grow as they help others grow, as well as through cross-cultural experiences. Blake’s tutoring experience will allow him to grow in both areas.


Finally, leaders grow by walking toward wisdom. Wisdom is different from knowledge; it is the application of knowledge, discernment, insight, experience, and judgment to make good decisions when the answer is not obvious. This is not something that happens automatically; instead, it is something that leaders must work toward. Leaders can pursue wisdom four different ways:

1. Self-evaluation. Good leaders strive to see themselves clearly and tell themselves the truth. They need to clearly understand and acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses, what they are doing well, and where they are struggling. This is one of the hardest things for leaders to do, especially those in higher leadership positions. There are two things that most often get in the way of honest self-evaluation:

* Ego: It is very easy for leaders of highly successful organizations to let their egos get the best of them. Many times, they give themselves too much credit (or all the credit) for the success of their organizations. It is nearly impossible to get an honest self-evaluation when an overabundance of pride and ego get in the way.

* Isolation: It is also very easy for leaders to be removed from the day-to-day operations of their organizations. With this isolation comes a warped view of reality, especially regarding the truth about themselves.

2. Feedback. Self-evaluation must go hand-in-hand with feedback. Good leaders pursuing wisdom cannot shy away from honest feedback. If feedback is not built into the operations of the organization, leaders must seek it out. They must ask those above and below them in the organization what they are doing well and where they are falling short.

3. Counsel from others. Along with feedback, good leaders must seek counsel from others, acknowledge that they do not know everything, and learn from the knowledge and experiences of others. Instead of always learning by trial and error, they can often learn from the paths that others have already cleared. The key to getting this type of counsel is learning to ask good questions. For example, “What are the major lessons you have learned so far in your career?” “What do you know now that you wish you knew 10, 20, or 30 years ago?”

4. Time. Good leaders know that wisdom takes time. It is not a one-time endeavor, but a lifelong pursuit. Good leaders do not rush to accumulate wisdom, and they do not ever stop accumulating it.

Blake realizes he has an advantage being a new employee when it comes to gaining wisdom. Because he is new, he can comfortably ask people for feedback about what he should be doing, and what he should stop doing. He also sees the pursuit of wisdom first-hand in the president of his new company. When Blake suggests that the company’s current woes most likely stem from leadership’s lack of growth and adaptation to meet the demands of a changing industry, the president actually thanks him for telling the truth. The president goes on to admit that he failed to engender a culture of growth in his organization. Blake recognizes the value of the pursuit of wisdom as the president acknowledges the truth of the situation, his role in it, and his determination to make it right.

Through this interaction with the president, Blake realizes that it is not enough for leaders to focus on their own growth; they also need to focus on nurturing a culture of growth within their organizations. Organizations as a whole, as well as their leaders, must continuously grow to survive.

CHANGE:Complex as well as Continous




Change and adaptation have always been necessary for organizations to survive and thrive. Since the 1940s, the field of organizational development has generated hundreds of methods for managing change, from large-scale engagement to individual coaching and empowerment. Yet research shows that between 50 to 70 percent of planned organizational change initiatives still fail. A key reason is that most approaches to navigating change assume linear movement and offer a step-by-step, one-change-at-a-time methodology, when this is not the reality organizations face. Today’s organizations operate amid complex, continuous change, a “series of overlapping, never-ending, planned and unplanned changes that are interdependent, difficult to execute, and either cannot or should not be ignored.”

When companies try to undertake multiple change efforts using strategies designed for one-time changes, they end up with incomplete efforts, wasted time and resources, overlapping processes, and poor coordination. No real progress is made and companies fall further behind. Complex, continuous change demands a different method, one with the following five aspects based on experience of my new role as chairperson with Indian Society for Training & Development #istddelhichapter:

1. Prioritization: Navigating multiple change efforts requires trade-offs and therefore the prioritization of such things as resources and leadership attention.

2. Integration: When multiple change efforts are undertaken simultaneously, there needs to be a clear understanding of the big picture and recognition of where change efforts will be redundant or contradictory.

3. Not exceeding capacity: Too much change can be as damaging as too little. Leaders need to be careful not to overload a company’s resources and employees’ emotional capacity to deal with change.

4. Broader and deeper engagement: Complex, continuous change requires drawing on the intellectual capital of everyone in the organization. No one team or person can solve everything.

5. Agility: Multiple change efforts cannot simply be “rolled out” according to plan. Every change effort must be subject to the adjustments necessary when new information arises, unexpected results occur during implementation, or new priorities emerge.


The model for leading complex, continuous change consists of four key actions — Discovering, Deciding, Doing, and Discerning — that are in “constant interplay.” While there may be greater focus on one action or another at any given point, there are no start points, end points, or steps in the model; instead, companies should always be moving among all four actions. At the core of the model are four corresponding mind-sets — think fewer, think scarcer, think faster, and think smarter — that must be adopted to succeed amid complex, continuous change. Leadership as a whole, not just the CEO, must adopt and share these mind-sets and generate the shift in how change is managed from the top.


The objective of Discovering is to locate viable business opportunities, craft a vision, and revise the vision as needed. Discovering requires a big-picture view and the examination of external realities that determine the overall direction of change efforts. Common problems during Discovery include an overreliance on internal perspectives, allowing past experiences to cloud future opportunities, and committing to too many big ideas. There are three subcomponents to Discovering: stepping back, scanning, and visioning.

Stepping Back

Discovery requires a “time-out” to examine realities and possibilities. While this is typically the exclusive domain of top leadership, a Discovery team should include representatives of other key units and functions in the organization, with only a couple of members directly representing the top team. The team should steadily rotate members, but not all at once. This ensures that internal history is remembered but also that the redirection of resources or efforts is not shied away from. Stepping back means recognizing that even currently successful companies cannot stand still. They must always be assessing what competitors are pursuing, thinking about future industry changes, and using networks to gather feedback and insight. Pasmore suggests a 10-10-5 rule: The top 10 percent of leaders should spend at least 10 percent of their time thinking 5 years into the future of the organization.


The goal of scanning is to collect information about current external realities to determine what needs to happen internally. Data should be used to challenge internal views about what is critical and achievable. This means getting out of the internal company culture, interacting with other people, and observing customers. When employees interact with products from a user’s point of view, they often realize what needs to change. Scanning is not just about challenging current hypotheses but about creating new ones. The goal is to stop being in a knowing mode and shift to a learning mode to see what this reveals.


Most companies have a vision, but most visions are too broad to be useful to the people working toward them. Visioning requires crafting a specific and clear picture of an organization’s desired future. The vision should not simply inspire, it should be a call to action that guides Deciding, Doing, and Discerning in the short term. Companies should still dream big and set their sights high, but they should only do so with one or two major goals. This thinking fewer mind-set increases the odds of success by providing focus, urgency, and clarity. Visioning must be done by the senior team, because without commitment and alignment at this level, the vision will not be realized.


The objective of Deciding is to prioritize the organization’s efforts so that the vision is realized. Organizations must avoid becoming overloaded with change efforts or they will not be capable of responding to inevitable, rapidly arising threats and opportunities. Deciding requires focus, discipline, and investigation to determine what needs to change internally so the vision can occur. The three subcomponents of Deciding are diagnosing, focusing and prioritizing, and scoping and designing.


Before a road map to change can be made, companies need to understand the nature of the gap between where they currently are and where they need to be to achieve their visions. Organizations cannot simply build on their strengths; they must identify barriers to success as soon as possible. For instance, it is not effective to notice sales are down, assume a single cause, and begin a change effort. Companies need to perform a thorough diagnosis and find evidence for what is happening. Typically there is more than one factor responsible (e.g., poor sales team training, product development, supplier quality, or competitor pricing) and a diagnostic model or framework can help. Companies should not minimize the effort necessary for diagnosis; better diagnosis leads to fewer but more targeted actions — it encourages a think scarcer mind-set.

Focusing and Prioritizing

With a list of diagnoses in hand, it can be tempting for companies to jump in and tackle them all. As was true during Discovery, companies must again take a step back, which is a core tenet of dealing with complex, continuous change. Once options for closing gaps are developed, they must be prioritized. While many leaders affirm that this is a vital skill, few claim to be effective at it, and the evidence suggests they are right. Many resort to a top-down approach, but this does not ensure that the best choices are made. Prioritization is improved in a collaborative process that uses systems thinking to discover overlaps and how actions can be combined. When people view the company as a system, they focus on how they can expend the least amount of effort to produce the greatest benefit for the whole.

Scoping and Designing

At this point, the company begins to create a road map for change — who, when, where, and how — with more specific decisions. Details are clarified later, but the trajectory for change has been set and will be difficult to reverse. It is particularly important at this juncture to create space for newly prioritized work. Rather than constantly adding to people’s workloads, companies need to let them know what they can stop doing so they have the capacity to refocus their attention. It is also important to practice selective engagement during Deciding, involving only those people who are truly necessary. Trying to engage everyone during scoping and designing is disruptive and slows down the process.


The objective of Doing is to engage the whole organization in executing the change strategy. Execution is always occurring, and speeding up the pace of change requires new processes and the mind-set think faster. Contrary to entrenched assumptions, hierarchy and top-down decrees that try to push change through quickly actually make the process slower. Doing requires a counterintuitive slowing down to communicate, engage people, and pilot ideas — the three subcomponents of Doing — in order to speed up the pace of change.


Busy people often ignore communications about change efforts, consider them a disruption or distraction, or are overwhelmed by the prospect of more work being added to their plates. The delivery of the message is crucial; it needs to grab people’s attention and sustain it long enough for the information to be truly comprehended. Hearing about a change effort directly from the CEO usually garners people’s attention, but this must be followed up by communication with mid-level managers with whom people can ask questions and raise concerns. Therefore, mid-level leaders must be equipped for this task before the CEO’s unveiling and have their own opportunity to ask questions and understand what is happening. Constant communication with mid-level managers is vital to complex, continuous change. Keeping them well-informed and aware of shifts helps them engage their direct reports and ensures everyone stays in touch with current priorities.

Part of communicating effectively is also listening well — effective communication flows two ways. This does not mean ending a meeting with, “Does anyone have any questions?” and a five-minute time allotment to field them. Companies need to keep channels of communication open throughout a change’s rollout, not just at its launch. People often do not know what their questions are until they start executing the change, and there are usually unanticipated consequences that they need to communicate back to senior leaders.


Good communication is a prerequisite for engagement; well-informed people are not yet taking action, they are simply prepared. Engagement prompts people to shift from a mental recognition of “This is important” to “I personally have to do X, Y, and Z about it!” The three key ways of sparking engagement are representation, repeated processes, and large-scale interventions. Representation commonly takes the form of a project team, with a representative from each team or unit responsible for enacting changes. Repeated processes often focus on quality control (e.g., Six Sigma), where a process is established and people are asked to apply it to opportunities they identify. Large-scale interventions are best for specific changes that are not likely to recur. They involve gathering large groups together to capture a vast number of inputs, reach major decisions, or solve a complex problem. At its core, the goal of any form of engagement is to transfer responsibility for enacting change “from the few to the many.”

Piloting and Implementing

Thinking and moving faster also requires new ways of working. When companies try to perfect a design, product, or process before implementing it, they often invest as much time perfecting the last 10 percent as they did creating the first 90 percent. Using rapid prototyping and piloting can speed up the process of change while also saving time and resources. More frequent iterations also reduce the cost of any failures and improve learning for future developments. Even creating mock-ups of a product or inexpensive prototypes and observing potential users interact with them can offer insights that are far more useful early in the process than they would be in the final stages of product development. An idea that looked attractive in a focus group may not look as stellar when people test a prototype. Also, users’ interactions during piloting may give designers ideas for new features.


The objective of Discerning is to improve an organization’s capacity to change over time by learning. When change is viewed as a linear and one-time event, the benefits of learning are not as great as when an organization seeks to get better at complex, continuous change. The learning process of Discerning is an investment, but one that will pay future returns because the pace of change is not going to slow. While Discovering involves an assessment of external realities, Discerning focuses on internal progress toward the vision. It requires the mind-set think smarter and uses data, metrics, and critical review to gain insight from past change initiatives that can be applied to future ones.

Aligning and Integrating

Too often companies plan only for first-order changes when they should always expect second-order changes, given the interdependencies and connectedness within an organization. In complex, continuous change efforts, achieving second-order change requires aligning and integrating actions so there are no barriers or major consequences to change initiatives. This requires leaders to listen to feedback directly from those enacting change while also gathering data to understand effects on the company as a whole. They cannot get lost in the details of what each direct report wants, nor can they always be out of the fray looking for larger trends; they must manage a balance between the two and resolve any conflicts between units quickly.


Success in complex, continuous change is measured not by hitting one-time performance goals, but by tracking how well a company improves in key measures over time. What measures are used will depend on the company’s vision, but the measures should be predictive or forward looking instead of historical. For instance, past sales trends or employee turnover rates can be observed, but there is no guarantee those trends will continue. Measures such as spending on new product development, training, and business development or number of customer visits by executives are predictive indexes that track investments in change.


Thinking smarter also means learning from past change efforts to move progress closer to today’s vision. Asking four key questions — What was expected? What happened? Why? What do we do different next time? — and regrouping to discuss them are vital to leading better change efforts in the future and making important adjustments to current ones. Rigorous testing, not guessing, should be used to determine what adjustments are needed. Once these are identified, acting quickly is more important than researching an ideal solution.


Successfully addressing complex, continuous change is a long-term process, but if organizations are truly committed to the method, they will reap the benefits. It will require new levels of rigor and deliberation, a willingness to learn by trial and error, and perhaps the help of mentors, coaches, or advisers. Leaders must be absolutely dedicated to it, willing to see things differently, and focused on changing their mind-sets first. They must take control of the change surrounding them to avoid becoming overwhelmed by it.



Communication is essential for leaders. It demonstrates one’s positive traits, creates buy-in, builds employee engagement, and reflects one’s honesty and authenticity. Research has found that only 10 percent of communication is verbal. Half is non-verbal and 40 percent is paraverbal. As a result, leaders need to recognize that how they convey a message is as important as what they convey in the message.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 5.35.33 pmGlobal Knowledge recommends using the Know-Understand-Believe-Act or KUBA model to make communication more effective and influential.

*Know. Leaders must convey the essence of their message as clearly and specifically as possible. The key question to answer is, “What are the facts?”

*Understand. The audience must understand the details. People want a solid context and will ask questions to confirm their understanding. The key questions to answer are, “Why do we need to do this? Why have we decided that?”

*Believe. The audience must believe in the value of what a leader asks them to do and believe that they can accomplish it. This is the buy-in phase. The key question to answer is, “What are the benefits for the people receiving the message or for other stakeholders?”

*Act. In many circumstances, a leader’s communication will lead to an action. People will be committed to act only if they know, understand, and believe the message.

Effective communicators clearly understand what motivates and inspires others. Storytelling can be a powerful way to illustrate and convey ideas. Powerful stories have four characteristics:

1. Purpose. The speaker focuses on the essentials and knows why they are telling the story.

2. People. The story talks about real characters.

3. Plot. The story has a beginning, middle, and end.

4. Place. The story is situated in a place that the audience can visualize.

Handling Gen X & Gen Y


For the first time in history, four generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials) are working alongside one another, each completely different from the others. Each new generation brings about change, and if an organization wants to survive, it cannot fight that change. Instead, it must find ways of mixing the old with the new. Generational differences have the ability to tear teams apart, but in Sticking Points, Haydn Shaw provides a practical resource for working through these differences.IMG_6330



Traditionalists are a shrinking but important generation. Some are still in the workplace (mostly in leadership positions), and members of this generation built many of today’s organizations and trained the Baby Boomers.

To understand Traditionalists, it is important to understand how The Great Depression, World War II, and the transition from farm to city life influenced them. With little government assistance, millions of people were barely able to feed their families during the Great Depression. This left an entire generation cautious and thrifty. World War II united the country and taught Traditionalists not to complain and to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

When it came time to form companies, Traditionalists formed them in the same hierarchical style as the military, since many were soldiers during WWII. Traditionalists learned their strong work ethic from farm life–if they wanted breakfast, they had to go out, milk the cows, and collect the eggs.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are named after the population boom following WWII. They were taught from a young age that they were special, and they grew up believing anything was possible as long as they worked hard. This generation was shaped by overcrowding, a booming economy, growing up in the suburbs, and the invention of television.

Baby Boomers grew up in an age of overcrowding, which made workaholics out of them. The world was not prepared for the population boom, and since it was not expected to last, hospitals, schools, and colleges were not ready for the vast size of this generation. Boomers have had to compete their entire lives for spots in school, college, and the job market. Baby Boomers learned at a young age that if they did not put in the effort, somebody else would.

Unlike their parents, Boomers did not have to worry about survival and saving money as they grew up. They were the first generation to experience growing up in the suburbs rather than on farms. On farms, teens spent most of their time around family, but in the suburbs Baby Boomers went off to school and spent the majority of their time with their peers.

Television also had a unique effect on Baby Boomers because everyone watched the same few channels and were connected by the same language.

Generation X

Generation Xers are the realists squished between the larger Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. They were the first to really experience high divorce rates and a change in family structure.

Since the Baby Boomer generation was so large, Gen Xers had little hope of moving up the corporate ladder quickly. Often, this forced Gen Xers to switch companies frequently in order to be successful. Divorce rates also began to rise, creating a new family structure for Gen Xers to deal with. Often feeling lonely, Gen Xers created their own support networks and families out of friends.

Gen Xers missed the expansive growth of the economy, but they were still left to deal with rising prices. They also had to face quadrupling college expenses, leaving them in debt before they ever got started in their careers.


Millennials are the newest and least understood generation. Unlike previous generations, Millennials have had heavily involved parents. This is also the generation in which a person becomes an adult around the age of 26. It takes them longer to figure out what they want to do with their lives, and many graduate college with student loan debt in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Individuals from this generation have also had more freedom to disagree with their parents and express their feelings. Parents, teachers, and coaches have stressed that Millennials are special, which has created an “everyone gets a trophy” mind-set. Millennials are also consumers surrounded by technology.

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks had a profound effect on Millennials, and it taught them that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Because of this, Millennials volunteer more than any other generation, and they strive for work-life balance.


A great analogy for understanding generational differences is to think of each generation as a different country with its own norms, customs, language, and clothing. Understanding the culture of the country (generation) is paramount.

When it comes to mixing the four generations, there are four approaches an organization can take:

  1. It can ignore generational differences.
  2. It can try to minimize the differences.
  3. It can cut deals with employees from different generations.
  4. It can lead and create a cohesive team with all generations.

The first three approaches use management as a tool, but Boomers were the last generation to respond well to being managed; both Gen Xers and Millennials respond better to leadership.

Individuals from different generations do not see things the same way, and while they have similar needs, each group meets those needs differently. Currently, Baby Boomers fill most of the top leadership positions in organizations and make up a large portion of companies’ talent pools. However, as Boomers near retirement (Traditionalists have mostly left the workforce), organizations need to start looking at who will succeed them.


There are 12 areas where multigenerational teams tend to get stuck:

  1. Communication.
  2. Decision making.
  3. Dress code.
  4. Feedback.
  5. Fun at work.
  6. Knowledge transfer.
  7. Loyalty.
  8. Meetings.
  9. Policies.
  10. Respect.
  11. Training.
  12. Work ethic.

Each of these areas can either pose a problem or be an opportunity, depending on how the team looks at it. Differences in these areas can lead to understanding and make a team stronger, or they can lead to conflict and be the reason a team falls apart.

It is not enough to simply know what the 12 sticking points are; leaders need to know how to deal with them and keep organizations and teams from getting stuck and coming apart. There are five steps leaders can follow to move a team past a sticking point:

  1. Acknowledge that there are differences and bring them out into the open.
  2. Appreciate the differences in each generation by focusing on why things are different.
  3. Be flexible on policies that are not based on business necessities.
  4. Leverage the strengths of each generation.
  5. Resolve conflicts by making decisions that make the most sense.



The main goal of communication is to understand what other people are trying to say. It becomes a sticking point when that understanding does not occur, and the why behind a preferred communication method is not understood.

Traditionalists prefer communicating via memos and letters, and they like holding meetings to disseminate information. They grew up in a time when print and radio were commonplace, and in school they were taught formal writing. Communication for them means face-to-face contact. Baby Boomers were also taught formal writing in school, but everybody from that generation had access to a phone. They prefer writing memos, using the phone, or holding meetings. Gen Xers grew up learning to embrace new technology like e-mail and cell phones, so they prefer to communicate by e-mail or virtual meetings. Millennials grew up with interactive technology. To them, sending a text message is more efficient than calling, and social media is second nature.

There are strengths and weakness to each method, but communication should always match the customer’s preference. All generations have to show some flexibility in order to find common ground. When flexibility is not enough, policies are needed to dictate what communication styles should be employed.

Decision Making

Companies make decisions in six primary ways:

  1. All decisions are made and announced by the boss.
  2. The most tenured employees are asked for their input, and then the boss decides.
  3. All employees are asked for their input, and then the boss decides.
  4. A few employees meet with the boss and come to a decision.
  5. Whoever is the most knowledgeable on the topic decides.
  6. A decision is made after the entire team discusses the issue.

Most teams get stuck using just one or two of these decision-making structures instead of utilizing whichever one is most appropriate at the time. The best way to resolve a conflict when decision making becomes a sticking point is to be flexible on which approach is used and decide which approach works best for the decision at hand.

Based on their time in the military, Traditionalists prefer a hierarchical style of decision making where the boss makes the decisions and is not questioned. Baby Boomers push for a voice by using surveys and discussions, but ultimately leave the final decision to the boss. Gen Xers get help where they need it, so they believe decisions should be made by the individual with the most knowledge on the subject. Millennials have been taught to use peer resolution, so they believe in an all-inclusive process where decisions are made by consensus.

Dress Code

Out of all of the sticking points, dress code can be the most difficult to discuss because it is not only extremely personal, but each generation has its own ideas about what attire is professional and appropriate.

Traditionalists grew up on farms and had separate dress clothes. They believe wearing formal attire shows respect. Baby Boomers were hired by Traditionalists, so they learned to dress formally at work. However, they opt for a more casual style of dress outside of work. Gen Xers grew up with casual attire and often prefer a more casual approach to clothing in the workplace; however, because they are outnumbered by Baby Boomers, they usually do not put the effort into changing dress policies. Millennials focus more on what a person contributes than what he or she wears, so they do not see the value of dress codes.

The best way to come to an agreement over dress code is to focus on what is a business necessity rather than a generational preference. Older generations can help younger individuals understand why dressing more formally is important, and younger generations can help keep their companies more relaxed and accepting of people’s appearances.


Feedback is one the easier sticking points to get around because everyone wants to know how they are doing and how they can improve. The sticking point centers on how much feedback is enough.

Traditionalists learned in the military that if something is wrong, they will hear about it; otherwise, they should just keep doing what they have been doing. They have this same mentality in the workplace. Baby Boomers had a lot of competition for jobs and promotions, so they worked with Traditionalists to secure annual reviews and quarterly meetings. Gen Xers had much less competition to deal with than Baby Boomers and, as a result, prefer to get real-time feedback. Many of them see annual reviews as a waste of time. Millennials grew up receiving feedback all the time, and they want to know exactly how they are doing at all times.

A great way for employees to receive feedback and take pressure off of managers is to ask their peers for feedback. In order to keep the younger generations involved, feedback has to focus on career planning. Mutually beneficial mentoring programs should be implemented.

Fun at Work

Traditionalists grew up with the idea that fun happens after the work is done, and Baby Boomers grew up in a time of excitement when work was already fun. Gen Xers are realists and see work as just work and nothing else. Millennials value fun at work more than any other generation, and because companies are trying to attract more Millennials, they need to learn how to make their workplaces more fun.

All generations want to have fun, but the sticking point comes in determining how much fun is appropriate in the workplace. Because Gen Xers and Millennials are the future, making work fun is a business necessity if companies want these employees to stay.

Knowledge Transfer

With Traditionalists and Baby Boomers retiring in the coming years, knowledge transfer is extremely important. Traditionalists and Baby Boomers learn through a hands-on approach and transfer knowledge through watching and talking. Gen Xers learn by listening to previous generations and posing questions to peers. They typically use documentation to transfer their own knowledge. Millennials grew up watching videos and using message boards to post questions. They typically prefer on-demand learning over traditional coursework.

Instead of trying to get the older generations to write down what they know, the better option is to get them to record it on video. The videos can then be edited for length or transcribed. Older and younger employees can also be put on teams together to help make knowledge transfer a more natural process.


Loyalty is viewed very differently between generations. For Traditionalists, changing jobs too many times would get them blacklisted, so they preferred to stay with one company and move up the ladder. Baby Boomers preferred to stay at a single company and work their way up the corporate ladder as well, even though leaving would not get them blacklisted. Gen Xers, on the other hand, were forced to job hop between companies if they wanted to get ahead. Millennials typically stay with an organization as long as they are not bored, but they see nothing wrong with changing jobs or organizations until they find jobs they love.

Traditionalists and Baby Boomers were loyal to their companies because there was a defined corporate ladder for them to move up, but that is no longer the case for Gen Xers and Millennials. Gen Xers and Millennials will only stay with a company as long as their needs are being met.


Meetings can be a sticking point for the generations because they do not all agree on when a meeting is needed, how long it should be, and what should be discussed.

Traditionalists did not attend meetings all that often because their bosses made all the decisions. However, when there was a meeting, they made sure to pay attention to what the boss was saying. When Baby Boomers came along, they pushed for meetings as a way to even the playing field by making it possible for everyone to have access to information. They were expected to always show up and pay attention. Gen Xers and Millennials do not value meetings the same way Baby Boomers do, and this is where a lot of the friction occurs. Gen Xers feel that most of their work and communication can be done through e-mail. However, when that is not enough, they do see the value in having a meeting. They also want to have the freedom to respond to e-mail and work on other things during the parts of the meeting that do not apply to them. Millennials grew up with teams, so they do not mind meetings, as long as they are allowed to use their phones, laptops, and tablets to stay connected.

Each generation brings something to the table. Traditionalists are stable, Boomers remind everyone about the importance of face-to-face communication, Gen Xers keep everyone on point, and Millennials make meetings fun. In order to move past this sticking point, it is important to use everyone’s strengths to make meetings better.


Policies are important because they resolve sticking points and outline what behavior is acceptable and why. The problem is that with four generations in a single workplace, the top-down approach to policymaking is no longer functional.

Traditionalists believe in doing what they are told to do, and Baby Boomers like creating policies to keep everything fair. However, Gen Xers feel that rules were meant to be broken, and Millennials see rules as mere guidelines.

The best way to get the four generations to agree on policies is to include them in the process. Companies should put together teams of representatives from each generation, educate them on business challenges, and then let them work out the details on policies. This way, each generation gets heard and does not feel left out.


Respect is a foundational sticking point that has the ability to make other sticking points more difficult to work through if it is not already understood.

Traditionalists come from hierarchal families, and they participated in WWII. Because of this, they like to familiarize themselves with the corporate hierarchy and then find their place in it. Employees should automatically respect those above them on the ladder. Baby Boomers believe in working their way up the ladder to a position that will give them the respect of their peers and direct reports. Gen Xers do not respect people just because they are in certain roles; instead, they respect those who consistently deliver results. Millennials were taught to respect everyone, and they expect everyone else to respect them in return.

To get around this sticking point, each generation has to be flexible and understand how the other generations view respect. They also need to learn not to take things personally. Lastly, being approachable goes a long way toward getting along with older and younger individuals.


Every generation wants additional training, and it is important for them to learn new things so they can sharpen their skills and keep from getting bored. However, each generation learns in different ways, and it is challenging to find a training program that meets every generation’s needs.

Traditionalists grew up learning from libraries, newspapers, and colleges, so they still prefer to learn through reading or lectures. Baby Boomers learned to sit still in school and pay attention to teachers, and when they moved into the workforce, training was a reward for those who had good futures ahead of them. Gen Xers value staying current and feel that without being trained, their job security is being taken from them. They learn through the Internet and want their training to be fast-paced and practical. Millennials know that without consistent training they have no futures. They prefer to work in groups and constantly want interaction and movement.

To make sure every generation gets something out of training, companies should use as many different approaches as possible and let employees decide which method works best for them. Even more progress can be made if time is taken to ask each generation what it wants.

Work Ethic

Among all the sticking points, work ethic generates the most tension. Everyone wants fairness and does not want to do more than anyone else.

Traditionalists were accustomed to working hard on the farms, but when they transitioned into industrial jobs, they fought for five-day workweeks and 9-to-5 days with paid overtime. Baby Boomers had a lot of competition in their generation, so they were willing to work longer hours and take work home when needed. Gen Xers take work home as well, but only if they absolutely have to, and since they know that they will have to work extra on occasion, they think it is only right that they should be able to make personal calls at work. Millennials do not hold steady to rigid work hours. Because they are always connected, Millennials do not believe all 8 hours of work need to be done consecutively. Instead, they prefer taking breaks during the workday, even though that may mean staying later at the office. Millennials are reshaping the playing field. It is best for companies to focus on output rather than the number of hours worked, and if employees are not meeting their goals, they need to be held accountable.

Why Mentor



Many of the qualities that make a person a good partner in a personal relationship are also found in a good mentor. He or she should be a good listener, committed to the relationship, considerate of the other person’s feelings, trustworthy, and faithful. Maintaining a nonjudgmental attitude and having a good sense of humor helps ensure friendship and respect, which are needed for the protégé’s success.

People who appear cool and emotionally detached are seldom good mentors because they are not easily approachable. Mentors with relaxed body language and an open, friendly attitude encourage their protégés to confide in them and to trust that they will be available for help whenever it is needed. By making solid eye contact and exhibiting positive and frequent reactions to the protégé’s conversation, the mentor underscores that the protégé and the protégé’s ideas are important.

Open dialogue can lead to the disclosure of information that is meant to be confidential. How much confidentiality that is shared is between the two parties in a mentorship. A mentor should never coerce information from a protégé, and is expected to protect confidentiality unless the limits of safety to people or the organization are in question (or, of course, there are legal concerns). Similarly, the mentor should not reveal confidential company information. Limits should be discussed at the outset of the mentorship so that everyone knows what they are.

In addition to exhibiting good relationship skills, a mentor must serve as a role model. It is not unusual for protégés to mimic characteristics of mentors they admire, but they must also be encouraged to make these characteristics their own. The goal of a mentor is not to create a clone, but to foster a protégé’s growth and development.

Although shared values create strong relationships, the mentorship relationship must leave room for the protégé to choose values that may differ from the mentor’s. A protégé may also develop abilities that the mentor does not have, which can be difficult for the mentor to accept. A successful mentor recognizes and celebrates these accomplishments, for a goal of mentorship is for the two individuals to become colleagues who can benefit one another.

Throughout the mentorship, an effective mentor reads the protégé well and is able to tailor the mentoring experience to that person’s emotions, personality, and drive. The mentor must not be a perfectionist nor allow the protégé to become one. Accepting limitations without expecting them creates a healthy learning environment.

Most important, a good mentor must be trustworthy. For example, a mentor should be able to keep appointments, follow through on promises, and speak honestly in every conversation with his or her protégé. Trustworthiness is exhibited when the mentor behaves with the utmost integrity in both personal and professional activities.


Chances of success are greatly improved when a person starts off on the right foot. This is especially true when it comes to choosing a person to mentor. Chemistry is everything. Mentoring is a significant investment in both time and attention, so a mentor needs to choose someone who has a compatible personality, communication style, and personal values. The two parties should have common social skills and a similar level of ambition; it also helps if they share career interests. The more in tune to each other they feel, the more successful the mentorship is likely to be.

Race, ethnicity, and gender are other areas to consider when forming a mentorship. For example, some minority protégés prefer a mentor from their own background, while others believe a more diverse partnership is conducive to success. It is important to discuss these preferences and to ensure that both partners are comfortable with the decision. A mentor of the opposite sex is common, but care must be taken by both parties to ensure that the mentorship relationship remains entirely professional and there is no imbalance of power. Any risks should be openly discussed at the beginning of the process.

Also discussed at the start of a mentorship are expectations, measurable goals, and relationship boundaries. The result of such a conversation will serve as a game plan, which the mentor and the protégé should agree on as a team. Just as a map makes it easier to get from one place to another, an established plan with which to evaluate integral progress sets the mentoring partners on the right path. As time progresses, more goals will usually be added; some may not be easily measurable, but they should still become part of the overall plan.

While transparency is necessary throughout the process, honestly discussing the benefits and risks of the mentorship in the beginning sets the proper tone. Each partner should consider how to address issues such as jealousy or miscommunication, and how best to air concerns. The benefits to a successful mentorship–accelerated development, increased job satisfaction, improved ability and confidence, and often a faster promotion–can outweigh minor bumps in the road.

Agreement regarding the boundaries of the mentorship is vital. Because the mentor fills several roles, including advisor, friend, and supervisor, the mentorship team spends a lot of time together. This time must be agreeable to both members of the team, as should phone calls and emails from work and home and out-of-office contact. Mentorship requires a commitment and at times could interfere with the mentor’s social life; a mentor must be aware of this and should avoid allowing resentment to build and such interference to occur. The mentor also has the responsibility to keep the mentoring relationship from becoming overly personal; in such an instance the mentorship will lose its effectiveness and the situation will be likely to end poorly.

Mentoring constellations, or additional persons a protégé can turn to, help the protégé develop a network of career helpers. A good mentor helps the protégé choose others who may be able to offer professional guidance in areas the primary mentor cannot. They can also remain in a protégé’s network as the mentoring relationship changes and eventually comes to a close.

Both protégé and mentor must acknowledge from the outset that the mentoring relationship will not only change with time but reach an inevitable end. During the entire process, however, the mentor should set up a plan for regular reviews, where both parties can discuss how they think the mentorship is going and ways it might improve.


The popular adage, “If you want to have a good friend, you must be a good friend,” also holds true for mentoring. The mentor who sets the example of a proper work ethic, steady productivity, and self-care is most apt to develop a protégé who exhibits these traits. A good mentor accepts responsibility for the success of the relationship and the accountability for how it is proceeding.

Effective mentors realize that their protégés will be helpful in reducing the workload, and can be counted on to provide loyalty and assistance. They will also benefit from the increased excitement of working with talented newcomers and guiding protégés to success. Both mentors and protégés can enrich each other’s networks.

An active mentor should also be an active professional who is highly involved in the organization. By demonstrating command of the field and visibility among peers, the mentor mirrors the activity that is expected of the protégé. Such activity also shows the mentor to be a hard worker and innovator, which creates excitement in the mentorship.

Mentors who are proficient at their jobs, knowledgeable about their companies, and aware of what is required in their mentorship roles will produce the best and most confident protégés. They are aware that their influence over protégés comes with responsibility. They must not exploit protégés personally or professionally, and must be honest about protégés’ abilities at all times. It can be difficult to give objective feedback, especially if a mentor becomes friends with a protégé, or if it becomes clear that the protégé is in the wrong field; however, honest feedback is always in the protégé’s best interest.

Mentors should not attempt to turn their protégés into exact replicas of themselves. A successful mentor discovers what inspires the protégé and where his or her dreams and objectives lie, then shows the protégé how to accomplish as many of them as possible. Humble mentors who are comfortable talking about their own limitations and imperfections have been proven to be better models for their protégés.


At some point in the mentorship process, either the mentor or the protégé may question its value. This is not a time for finger pointing or anger. Instead, each partner must be sure to keep emotions under control. In particular, the mentor must maintain a foundation of mutual respect while sorting out any problems. Being honest along the way and documenting every step of the mentorship will help set the tone for discussion if things go amiss.

Difficulties should be addressed immediately from both points of view. A good mentor first looks within for the cause of any discord. Is it possible that he or she has expected too much of the protégé? Has the mentor made unreasonable demands on the protégé or failed to put in the time and attention that was initially promised? Mentors often need mentors themselves, or at least other professionals to consult when they question their effectiveness in mentoring situations.

If the mentor (as opposed to the protégé) believes the mentorship is going badly, he or she should consider whether the problem is real or just a perception based on irrational thinking. Mentors invest a great deal of time and energy into the mentoring relationship, and at times their egos may get in the way. They might think that the mentoring process should be progressing more quickly, the protégés’ skills should be more advanced, or the protégés do not sufficiently appreciate the efforts being made on their behalf.


The mentorship by nature is a changing relationship, and whether by design or default it must come to an end. The length of mentorships vary; some last around five years, but others are much shorter, depending on the desired results. However, both mentor and protégé must realize from the start of the process that its ending is the eventual goal–the purpose of the mentorship has been to create a protégé who is capable of moving on.

According to the authors, many mentorships end with unfinished business. Often this is because of the close bond the mentor and protégé developed in the relationship. In order for the protégé to enjoy the growth that has resulted from the relationship, the mentor must be careful not to make the protégé feel guilty for moving on.

Just as the mentor is responsible for a successful start to the mentorship, so too is he or she responsible for its rewarding conclusion. A good mentor prepares the protégé for this all-important transition and turns it into a celebration. It should be marked by an occasion, which can be as brief as a final meeting to go over the progress that was made or as celebratory as a dinner meeting or informal party. The mentor should sum up the process and discuss what has been accomplished by and for both parties. This will go smoothly if the relationship has remained open and friendly throughout. When welcoming the protégé as a colleague, the mentor may want to include a memento of some kind to mark the occasion.

True mentors live a mentoring lifestyle. They attain satisfaction from helping younger or less experienced people succeed in life. Quite often, the end of one mentorship leads to the beginning of another. However, those who enjoy mentoring should avoid becoming overextended in order to give all their protégés–and themselves-the best chance at success.



Strong company cultures begin with clear visions. However, establishing and sustaining these cultures dependson employees who understand their organizations’ values and engage in behaviors that align with those values. Successful companies recognize that culture is an effective way to find, build, and maintain an engaged, high-performing workforce. In The Power of Thanks, Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine discuss how companies can use social recognition to proactively manage their organizational cultures and generate business value.


Each day, employees engage in hundreds of interactions and decisions. The sum of these actions is a company’sculture. When a company creates a culture, it selects the values that define it and then encourages the behaviors that express those values.

The business world is more dynamic than ever before. Decisions must be made rapidly, but the amount of data related to those decisions can be overwhelming. When employees share a common set of values, they serve as guideposts and simplify decision making. A culture of recognition is unique because it engages, energizes, and empowers employees. In many cases, this results in better performances and higher profits.

Recognizing an employee’s effort and saying “thank you” is a powerful motivator. Giving thanks shines the spotlight on the right behaviors and indicates that someone is on the right track. One of the best ways to generate more recognition and manager feedback is to measure it in a clear and open way.

Recognition is one of the foundational elements of Positivity Dominated Workplaces. A Positivity Dominated Workplace is one where all employees promote engagement, high energy, risk management, candor, and other behaviors that are central to the company culture. Positivity leads employees to believe, “It is up to me to make sure things turn out all right.” Employees are compelled to take personal responsibility at all times, not just during good times. Recognition reinforces the right actions, encourages employees to take those actions repeatedly, provides guidance, and adds social value.

Appreciation and gratitude reinforce employees’ sense of belonging to something greater than themselves. Although appreciation and gratitude are closely related, there are distinctions between the two. Gratitude is more personal than appreciation. It means expressing thanks for a benefit one has received. Appreciation demonstrates that an action is valuable, while gratitude demonstrates that an action is personally beneficial.

Mosley and Irvine suggest that psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a metaphor for what workplaces can provide to employees. Pay ensures food and shelter, while the work environment offers safety, social contact, and self-esteem. When people love their work, they find their identities and achieve self-actualization. The highest human needs in Maslow’s hierarchy–social contact, esteem, and self-actualization–are nurtured through appreciation.

There are several aspects of appreciation that make it vital for culture management. Appreciation is motivating, humanizing, specific, empowering, and powerful. When people thank one another, it benefits both the giver and the receiver. Gratitude uplifts people’s spirits and promotes well-being. There are 14 beneficial effects that gratitude has on the health of employees and the workplace:

  1. Grateful people achieve more.
  2. Grateful people are better corporate citizens.
  3. Grateful people are less likely to burn out.
  4. Grateful people pay it forward.
  5. Grateful people are morally alert.
  6. Giving creates a positive feedback loop.
  7. The opportunity to give increases employees’ commitments to their companies.
  8. Givers are more engaged.
  9. Gratitude increases emotional wellbeing.
  10. Grateful people get along better with others.
  11. Grateful people are more resilient to trauma.
  12. Grateful people sleep better.
  13. Grateful people are physically healthier.
  14. Grateful people are less depressed.

Research has found that nonmonetary rewards are the key to improved employee performance. These rewards are more flexible, affordable, and immediate than salary increases. They can be paid in the “currency” of recognition. When managers and employees offer respect, recognition, encouragement, and emotional support, they make deposits of goodwill and energy in one another’s lives. Those deposits can be spent on productive activities.

Engaged employees contribute to their companies’ cultures and constantly reinforce the values that support their organizational missions and bottom lines. Engagement is defined as the willingness to do more than the minimum on the job. Unfortunately, employee engagement is rare and its absence costs organizations hundreds of billions of dollars. The authors believe that empowerment and encouragement are factors that generate and maintain employee engagement over the long term. Empowerment is the foundation of accountability and delivering on commitments, whileencouragement is practically free and it literally gives employees courage to act in ways that reflect their organizations’ values and cultures.


Before organizations can create recognition programs, they must first establish their visions. These visions should articulate what the recognition will achieve, how it will support company values, and how it will complement the ways employees communicate and work together. Once visions have been created, great leaders then empower their organizations to build new cultures. This can be accomplished by creating social architectures that support the cultures. The authors believe that social architecture is to culture what foundations and beams are to buildings. Social architecture is manifested through small behaviors including communication, traditions, and privileges.

Johnson & Johnson is a good illustration of social architecture. Its “Credo” is a statement that describes the company’s responsibilities to different stakeholders, including doctors, nurses, patients, employees, and shareholders. The Johnson & Johnson Credo includes specific behavioral guidelines that are flexible enough to apply across the different countries and cultures in which the company does business. By reinforcing core values globally, Johnson & Johnson has created a powerful asset.

Three aspects of social architecture are essential for high-performance cultures:

  1. Shared values
  2. Employee engagement
  3. United execution

The link that connects these three elements is social recognition. Shared values are reinforced when recognition shines a spotlight on specific behaviors that are tied to a particular company value. Engaged employees act as a cornerstone of a company’s social architecture. Company values will not have an impact on employee behavior and performance unless they are understood in the same way by all employees.

One way to reinforce a company’s culture is to hire candidates who are more likely to behave in ways that are consistent with the culture. At Zappos, for example, applicants participate in two sets of interviews. The first focuses on their qualifications, while the second focuses on their fit with the culture. Then, every new hire works in the call center for one month. If after one week individuals do not feel that they fit in, they can take the pay they have earned plus $2,000 and move on.

A strong social architecture supports all forms of employee engagement. Every day, companies should reward valuable behaviors, whether they are associated with small improvements or major initiatives. The value of social architecture is to promote the behaviors that support the company’s mission and goals. Different forms of recognition are the tools that work best for creating social architecture.

The Social Recognition Journey

Recognition extends along a continuum from simple, tactical steps to enterprise-wide initiatives and long-term strategic practices. As organizations progress along this continuum, they engage in a recognition journey. Recognition is powerful and its benefits increase as initiatives become larger and more strategic. Different levels of recognition have different characteristics:

*Tactical recognition features spot recognition programs that are handled by supervisors on an ad hoc basis.

*Enterprise recognition reaches every part of an organization around the world with a consistent program.

*Strategic recognition puts greater emphasis on culture management, linking recognition with company values and long-term strategic goals.

*With the advent of technology, mobile recognition is also a reality. Employees can recognize their colleagues anywhere, anytime through a secure interface.

The idea behind recognition in the workplace is that employees produce their best results when they are motivated to engage fully with their work. Motivation can be classified into two categories:

1. Extrinsic motivation occurs when employees want to gain external rewards, such as cash or promotions. It requires a continual flow of tangible, external rewards.

2. Intrinsic motivation occurs when people want to gain a sense of achievement. It thrives in environments that focus on achievement.

To create broad, adaptable sets of rewards for employees, businesses must attain a balance of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. One way to achieve this goal is by combining incentives and recognition. Recognition is a very efficient motivator that is more economical than continually increasing employee salaries.

In a reward plan, cash has its place. However, it is only recommended for reward levels that are large enough that they are not lost in employees’ paychecks. Noncash awards at several different levels ranging from $25 to $1,000 are a good use of a recognition budget. The authors recommend the following guidelines when developing tactical, enterprise, and strategic recognition programs:

*The rule of thumb for tactical recognition programs is “catch employees doing something good.” These programs are fulfillment driven, and tangible rewards should be based on a predetermined cash amount or item from a catalog. With these types of programs, there is minimal reporting and little consistency across departments, so they work best in small businesses.

*An enterprise recognition program distributes tactical recognition across an organization’s divisions. It establishes standard objectives and practices for accomplishing recognition goals, which makes the program scalable across large companies. Enterprise recognition programs usually require tools to scale training, communication, and delivery of awards.

*Strategic recognition programs take recognition beyond the HR domain and leverage its power at all levels in a company. Recognition data offers insight into the degree to which company values are lived out each day. With data visualization tools, it is possible to see which values are emphasized and by which departments and locations. For employees, strategic recognition shows the connection between behavior and values, resulting in increased morale and engagement. For managers, this type of recognition promotes thinking about which behaviors embody company values. For executives, strategic recognition makes a direct connection between encouraging certain values and determining whether those values are being lived by employees and managers.

The overarching goal of the recognition journey is integrating social recognition with talent management practices.

Mobile, Round-the-Clock Social Recognition

Today’s workforce is more global, multigenerational, social, and mobile than ever before. These factors are all impacting the way companies design employee recognition solutions. For example:

*The global workforce. Each global organization has one business culture that spans multiple countries and locations. As a result, a global recognition system must operate on a single platform that accommodates the different cultural and business considerations across locations. In the current 24/7, borderless work world, recognition can happen at any time and in any place.

*The multigenerational workforce. Today, three generations of employees work together as peers. Recognition can unify these groups since it crosses lines of authority, seniority, and social distance. Recognition generates appreciation and respect and unites people.

*The social workforce. To succeed at work, employees must interact with one another. This requires social bonds built on trust, communication, respect, and appreciation. As workplaces become more socially active, recognition reinforces the attitudes that facilitate cooperative work.

*The mobile workforce. Given the popularity of mobile devices, social recognition programs should be designed for use on smartphones and tablets. This will increase employee participation. Software as a service (SaaS) recognition systems are often a good solution that can be integrated with other HR systems.

Consumer technologies are playing a larger role in recognition solutions. Four examples include:

1. Video recognition. This technology makes it easy for employees to create quick and meaningful videos that capture specific messages of appreciation.

2. 24/7 connectedness. The round-the-clock nature of business has led to employees’ personal lives and work lives blending. Recognition systems enable users to interact and recognize their peers at any time.

3. Badging and free recognition. Some recognition solutions offer “free” recognition, such as online badges or “thumbs up” icons. While these can be useful, the key is not to devalue the power of thanks through recognition that is not equal with the level of effort or result that the employee achieved.

4. Gamification. Gamification is the term used to describe adding elements of game design to nongame contexts. In recognition systems, game design must connect achievement to company goals and values. The key is to tap into the right motivators and engagement for maximum effectiveness.


When building strategically effective social recognition practices, organizations must develop blueprints with five specific parts:

1. Sponsorship. Social recognition is attractive to executives because it relates to their three key concerns: competitive advantage, performance, and profits. Executive participation in a social recognition program elevates its status. Senior executive sponsors should act as global program champions by monitoring and discussing the program as part of the quarterly executive dashboard and guaranteeing that the program moves forward. At a minimum, the head of human resources (HR) should act as an executive sponsor and ideally the CEO or business unit presidents will also become involved. In addition to executive sponsors, it is essential to have an in-house program manager. This person should be accountable for designing and launching the program, as well as for interacting with outside vendors.

2. Design. Recognition programs must be designed with clear ambitions, metrics, and input from stakeholders. When establishing a recognition ambition, an organization must consider its core values and strategic objectives. The resulting strategic goals should be documented and stated as direct outcomes. Measurement against these goals will ensure that managers give recognition the priority it deserves. Before program execution begins, metrics must be determined and reported on a regular schedule. Displaying metrics on a performance dashboard will help create accountability. Tracking large numbers of recognition awards gives dashboards greater relevance. Program metrics, such as the number of awards per department, should be broken down into relevant targets for each division, department, or country leader. Reports should be distributed throughout the organization, all the way up to the CEO.

3. Reach. Social recognition is most effective when everyone participates, so programs should ideally touch everyone in the company. A business case for recognition, showing the program costs and expected benefits, must also be developed. Work done by Globoforce and studies by WorldatWork suggest that effective social recognition programs cost between one and two percent of overall payroll. One of the benefits of social recognition is that it creates a big “winner’s circle.” Giving many small awards, as well as a smaller number of larger awards, allows higher penetration rates for the recognition program. Effective social recognition programs are those where everyone is eligible to give and receive recognition for a job well done. When setting award guidelines, the authors recommend using the following best practices:

*Keep the number of award levels as simple as possible.

*Create award levels that relate to the degree of the employee’s contribution.

*Simplify the nominator’s choice by ensuring that award values are substantially different from one another.

*Provide examples of behaviors for each award level to ensure consistency of awards on a global basis.

*Bear in mind that the appropriate currency for a compensation strategy is cash, while the currency for a recognition strategy is noncash.

4. Adoption. When implementing a social recognition strategy, the goal is to achieve quick adoption by a large number of employees. This translates into better return on investment for the program over time and faster results. To promote adoption, organizations can use a three-phase communication process. The first phase is prelaunch communication, which creates anticipation and enthusiasm. The second phase is launch communication, which is designed to educate and inspire early adoption. The third phase is postlaunch and ongoing communication, which is integrated with daily activities and is intended to remind employees about the program. Creating a single, unique brand identity for the social recognition program results in marketing efficiency, unity, and culture reinforcement. Another important aspect of adoption is training employees on how the recognition program works. Managers must also be trained on when and how to create recognition moments. An effective recognition moment has three elements: (1) the award must be connected to a values- and goals-based activity; (2) the award is made quickly after the activity occurs; and (3) there is a personal message describing why the activity matters.

5. Rewards. For the rewards aspect of social recognition programs, the most important factor is that recipients receive their gifts of choice. Many effective programs offer gift cards to local merchants so recipients can touch, feel, and choose directly. It is also useful to provide merchandise rewards that enable quick selection and redemption.

Truly successful recognition programs have five essential building blocks. When these elements are in place, a social recognition program is ready to launch.

1. The stated vision is tracked through executive and manager dashboards. The global vision for the program must be articulated and the program’s targets must be described in metric or key performance indicator (KPI) form.

2. A plan is in place for a core values distribution analysis. Values distribution analysis charts should be generated from the data that is collected. Executive leaders must agree to monitor the information and take action if the results show problems.

3. An executive sponsor has been identified. One or more executive sponsors must monitor and discuss the quarterly dashboard and take corrective action if needed.

4. Leaders are held accountable. Program metrics must be broken down into targets for each division, department, country leader, or group. Leaders must be held accountable for reaching their targets.

5. True social design. To reap the benefits of social recognition, organizations must have recognition program designs that encourage the mass mobilization of employees. Every employee should feel empowered to notice good work and express thanks for it.

Social Recognition Programs and Return on Investment

Research has found that engaged employees are associated with high retention rates, better financial performances, and higher levels of customer loyalty. Social recognition programs increase employee engagement, so it is logical that there is a connection between recognition and broader business benefits. Turnover, for example, is very costly for organizations. The cost of replacing an employee who quits ranges from 50 percent to 150 percent of one year’s salary. If a recognition program reduces turnover by as little as 20 percent, it would more than pay for itself. Another way that social recognition programs contribute to the bottom line is by stimulating employee engagement. This leads to greater productivity and higher shareholder returns.

Having a strong employer brand is an important part of recruiting. Organizations with such brands attract the right candidates, which reduces the costs of advertising and other recruiting-related marketing efforts. Employer brands are built on three promises:

1. Tangible attributes, such as pay.

2. Intangible attributes, such as company culture.

3. Reasons to believe, such as being on a “best companies to work for” list.

Analyzing recognition data is also essential. It can answer such questions as:

*Who are the hidden influencers in the organization?

*Who has high potential?

*How are people connected via social networks in the workplace?

*What are the cultural differences among global locations?

Social Recognition and Human Resources

The final step in the recognition journey is gaining insight from the data that is generated. Social recognition data provides HR with talent insight across the human capital management life cycle. When continual feedback is captured by the social recognition system, managers can give more accurate performance reviews. Tying information from the recognition system to performance helps HR executives identify which activities and knowledge generate the best performances.

There are 14 ways that social recognition and its associated data contribute to talent management practices:

1. Onboarding. One way to help new employees get up to speed quickly is to nominate and appreciate their work and encourage them to recognize the work of their peers.

2. Finding hidden value. Social recognition technology delivers feedback data to executives by capturing individual moments of outstanding performance.

3. Documenting and promoting best practices. Data from social recognition programs contains information about incremental process improvements that can be implemented as best practices.

4. Spotting the quiet but important employees. Social recognition program data offers insight into the hidden influencers who have large and active internal networks.

5. Spotting “cultural energizers.” Employees who energize their cultures with enthusiasm are likely to both give recognition and receive it. They are key allies for initiatives that require change management.

6. Learning and development. Recognition is an effective way to reinforce a culture of learning in an organization.

7. Retention. One of the most quantifiable effects that companies see from recognition is an increase in employee retention and the accompanying cost savings.

8. Change management. A lesser known impact of great recognition programs is the ability to ease change management in organizations.

9. Succession planning. Recognition programs support succession planning initiatives.

10. Years of service awards. When data is captured over the long term, years of service milestones can be celebrated with a review of every time a person was recognized.

11. Work circles. In today’s workplace, employees create work circles, or mini-communities that form around projects and do not align with organizational charts. Recognition moments in work circles capture information about the skills and engagement of individual team members.

12. Identifying management trouble spots. Social recognition can reveal gaps in management performance.

13. Improving performance reviews. Social recognition programs provide rich qualitative and quantitative information that can be useful during performance reviews.

14. Separating quality from quantity. Qualitative recognition data records the value of certain behaviors and accomplishments. This is essential in environments where many awards are given, since quantity is not the only measure of value.

HR teams are always seeking better ways to understand and predict employee behavior. Based on the premise that past behavior can predict future behavior, analyzing social recognition data offers a promising tool for anticipating employee performance.

Social Revolution


Despite the fact that the solution economy’s developments have proven to be valuable, it still has a long way to go. This is because the solution economy can only grow to fill the space it is given. Not all regions and governments have room for creativity or investors that trust alternative currencies of return. Governments must be willing to forge new partnerships, make data more accessible, contract for outcomes, reduce regulatory minefields, and convene diverse groups of contributors. In addition to the necessary changes the government must make, the solution economy requires people to be increasingly willing to collaborate.

The authors have developed six principles for individuals and organizations to facilitate their own solution revolutions:

1. Change the Lens. Solving a problem through current or legacy programs can be problematic. People must forget established assumptions and how they currently do things and instead focus on the goal at hand. Additionally, it is necessary to be willing to look at institutions and citizens in fresh, new ways and consider what they would be willing to contribute.

2. Target the Gaps. It is important to treat gaps in basic needs as opportunities–not as obstacles. As failure is part of the path to success, wavemakers must continually try to fill the gaps of market failures, unmet needs, and ecosystems to advance important social outcomes.

3. Rethink Constraints. Resource constraints happen and must be adapted to. After the U.S. Congress stripped away most of its budget, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had to scale back and change its role in research and space travel. By looking beyond its constraints and partnering up with several members of the private sector, NASA was able to survive. There are three things that can be gleaned from NASA’s experience:

  1. New members in an ecosystem are not always a threat and often can provide a win-win situation.
  2. It is necessary to support the development of platforms and exchanges that enable different providers to collaborate on problems.
  3. Wavemakers must get creative about the resources they can bring to emerging ecosystems because creativity can result in new solutions.
  4. Embrace Lightweight Solutions. In today’s technological age, the best solutions are often the cheapest. Truly innovative solutions can be affordable, such as free online education for impoverished people or self-monitoring health tools. The authors suggest eliminating tradeoffs between dollar investments and social returns through the following strategies:

*Leveraging the Internet for distribution.

*Crowdsourcing solutions through tools like peer-to-peer networks.

*Encouraging innovative business models.

*Including individuals and communities in tackling their own challenges.

5. Buy Differently. Purchases are like votes. Consequently, both individuals and public and private institutions can drive the right outcomes by spending their money in the right places. Governments can use prizes and challenges or pay-for-success contracts to enable solution economy endeavors. Private multinational corporations can drive the adoption of social and environmental criteria across their industries as Costco did with sustainable fishing.

6. Measure What Matters. To solve society’s most intractable problems, it is necessary to first understand what needs to be measured. Every solution economy initiative is nuanced and different and therefore requires its own carefully constructed sets of metrics and feedback mechanisms.