Preparing For The Unexpected

Preparing For The Unexpected

The information age is also the age of acronyms. Our friends and colleagues make us LOL. Or we might affix a humble IMHO to our suggestions. If there is one acronym that probably best defines the hypercompetitive, dynamic world of business today, however, it is VUCA.VUCA, as Pamela Meyer explains in her book The Agility Shift, stands for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” In other words, companies need to prepare for the unexpected because the unexpected is coming.

However, how does one prepare for the unknown, the uncertain, the ambiguous? According to Meyer, the answer is to shift mindsets and strategies from the status quo and complacency to agility and entrepreneurialism.

This is no easy task for many companies who have been successful doing what they’ve always done and operating in the world of the past. Success will not last, however, if companies do not become more agile. Studies show that agile companies are “more profitable, sustainable and innovative,” she explains. The real reason to pursue agility, however, goes beyond bottom line results. The “core dynamics” (interacting and interconnecting) of a shift to agility, she writes, “are the key to your ability to create and experience meaning, purpose and happiness.” Meyer puts meaning, purpose and happiness at the center of the agility shift because “it is essential to fostering and sustaining the level of engagement, commitment and creativity you need to respond effectively when the unexpected hits.”

The Relational Web

The agility shift, Meyer explains, is a shift in mindset from “the false comfort of a plan to achieving a state of readiness to find opportunity in the unexpected.” Such a state of readiness begins with a resource that already exists in most companies: the “Relational Web.” Agility exists, according to Meyer, when individuals, teams and organizations weave a strong Relational Web.

According to Meyer, a Relational Web is much more than another term for social networks. For example, in addition to active relationships with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, an individual’s Relational Web would include extended and/or inactive relationships; skills, knowledge and talent; other sources of ideas; knowledge and expertise; tangible and intangible resources.

Tangible and intangible resources can include anything from capital and raw materials to the brand reputation of the organization for which the person works.

Agile Shift Dynamics

The interconnections, relationships and resources of a Relational Web are not, in themselves, sufficient to ensure agile leaders, teams and organizations. Individuals and organizations must also adopt a mindset, strategy and practices that lead to what Meyer calls “the five agility shift dynamics”: relevance, responsiveness, resilience, resourcefulness and reflection.

Agile organizations are relevant, which means that they have a clear sense of purpose — a “why” for everything they do. Relevance, Meyer writes, aligns purpose and values with the success of the organization. The result is a workforce and leadership that is engaged and committed: an important requirement for agility.

Agile organization are also responsive: They don’t react to events out of fear or to protect or defend themselves but respond to take advantage of new opportunities, writes Meyer. Agile organizations are also resilient, able to “regroup, reorganize and renew in response to a significant disruption,” she writes, and resourceful — taking full advantage of resources. Finally, agile organizations are able to reflect on new developments, understanding which are relevant to their organizations, and demand a response.

An international consultant and professor, Meyer fills her book with case studies and precise how-to steps gathered under “Making Shift Happen” subheads. Thus, one of the Making Shift Happen practices for resilience is to “designate understudies” (a former theater director and producer, Meyer draws metaphors and stories from her show-business career). To designate understudies means to have redundant vital systems to ensure that the organization is not left short when the unexpected happens. Exploring best practices and the mindset for agility for individuals, teams and organizations, The Agility Shift offers practical and timely advice for managers and employees dealing with the challenges of the age of VUCA.

How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life

Prescriptions for Handling Difficult People

Perhaps the most universal challenge faced by any manager or employee at any level of an organization is dealing with difficult and even irrational people. In his new book, Talking to Crazy, psychiatrist Mark Goulston offers a counter-intuitive prescription to dealing with the irrational and the impossible: “Lean into the crazy.” Don’t argue or try to reason with these people, he writes. Instead, treat them as if they are rational, show them that you are not a threat and then “move them” to sanity.

talkingtocrazyHis prescription is based on what he calls the “Sanity Cycle,” which consists of six steps: “see that the other person is acting crazy”; “identify the other person’s M.O.” (such as extreme emotion, hopelessness, manipulation or martyrdom);“deal with your own crazy”; “go to the other person’s crazy”; “show that you are not a threat”; and “move the person to a sane place.”

The Man in the Pickup

In the opening chapter of his book, Goulston tells a startling personal story of road rage gone right that illustrates the Sanity Cycle in practice. After one of the worst professional days of his life, a preoccupied Goulston cut off the same person, a very large man in a pickup, twice. The second time, the man blocked Goulston’s car, emerged from his pickup truck in a rage, and started screaming and pounding on the window of the car. Goulston lowered the window and said, “Have you ever had such an awful day that you’re just hoping to meet someone who will pull out a gun, shoot you and put you out of your misery? Are you that someone?” Before long, the stunned other driver was trying to comfort Goulston, explaining to him that life really wasn’t that bad.

This story is an example of the “belly role” — one of the many techniques that Goulston offers his readers. The belly role is named after the habits of animals that indicate their submission to other dominant animals by lying on their backs and showing their bellies. In more technical terms, this is called assertive submission, an apt name — it takes a certain amount of assertiveness to say to a crazy person, “You’re right, do what you have to do.”

Apologize, Empathize, Uncover

Another of Goulston’s techniques is the A-E-U technique, whose acronym stands for Apologize, Empathize, Uncover. When the other person is being irrational, Goulston writes, you apologize for your own shortcomings, recognize how difficult it must be for them to deal with you, and then describe to the person what they may be truly feeling. For example, Goulston described a case involving a marital situation in which he told his client that as part of the uncover phase she must tell her spouse, “I’m guessing you’d like to get a divorce, but you can’t bear all the tumult that would cause. It wouldn’t even surprise me if, when I’m on a trip, you secretly wish I’d die in a plane crash, because then you’d be free without being the bad guy.”

Leaning into the crazy in this way may seem counter- intuitive, not to mention counterproductive. However, the A-E-U and other techniques in Goulston’s book reveal the power of his Sanity Cycle. One of the early steps in the cycle is “dealing with your own crazy” — that is, recognizing how you are contributing to the problems. Only then can you respond in ways that “show that you are not a threat” and that in the end “move the person to a sane place.”

At first glance, this may all seem nice in theory and completely unrealistic in the real world. Goulston, however, is not a New-Age spinner of good feelings but, rather, a practicing psychiatrist for decades who, as he puts it in the first sentence of the book, “knows crazy” — from the patient who jumped off a fifth-story balcony because he thought he could fly to “80-pound anorexics, strung-out heroin addicts and hallucinating schizophrenics.”

Goulston will be the first person to tell you that some people are too crazy to talk to. Early in the book, he separates irrational and impossible people from people with personality disorders (e.g., narcissists, paranoids, sociopaths). These are people from whom rational people should walk away, Goulston writes unequivocally. However, most conflicts in the workplace (or home) simply involve very difficult people who can make life miserable. Talking to Crazy offers much-needed guidance for those seeking a solution to these all-too-common conflicts.

Tips for Telling Compelling Stories When Training Leaders

Our guest blogger today is Dr. Paul White, author of Sync or Swim, continuing from last week’s blog on telling stories.

John was struggling with how to handle a difficult situation with a key vendor for the company. He went to his supervisor, Stephanie, and asked her advice on what he should do.  Rather than telling him what to do, or even giving her direct input, Stephanie replied, “John, let me tell you a story …”  She went on to tell a story about an experience she had early in her career and the   consequences of her decision over the years. When she was done, she paused and waited.  After a few seconds of silence, John smiled and said:  “Got it.  Thanks.”  He stood up and left the room, even though Stephanie hadn’t directly answered his question.

Throughout history and across cultures, stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression to communicate foundational life lessons.   If you read the Greek philosophers, the wisdom literature from Asia, and the literature across the centuries designed to teach guiding principles for life – the “authors” used stories grounded in daily life rather than just stating the principle (or making lists of them, as most business books and articles do today.)

Tips for Telling Stories

Some people are natural storytellers – they just “do it”.  People listen to them, laugh, and enjoy hearing their stories.  For the rest of us, we need to work at it a bit.  Otherwise, our stories seem to fall flat with little impact on our listeners and sometimes there is just an awkward silence when we finish.  So here are some tips for learning to tell effective stories.

Where to Get Your Stories.  There are several sources for stories but the best one is your life.   You’ve gone through some situations that were challenging, hair-raising, and funny.  You were there so it is easy for you to remember. Some personal experiences and the stories that flow from that have to do with direct life experience.  You were there, felt the feelings, know what the dangers were, and how you felt when you got through the situation.  Other experiences are more indirect.  You were there but it was someone else going through the situation and you watched what happened (think about your parents while you were growing up, situations with your children, trips with friends).

A second treasure trove of stories are those told by others. This can include stories told by friends and family, stories told by authors in books, or the situations created and demonstrated in movies and TV shows. (By the way, movies are the modern cultural equivalent of orally told stories in past cultures.) YouTube videos also provide good visual short stories.  Note that trying to retell a story you’ve heard told by a friend can be difficult to tell effectively to others (especially if you only heard it once).

Practical Suggestions.  When telling a story, start by giving the context and setting (the “set up”) for what happens in the story is critical.  Some people start into a story without giving the listeners any clues either that they are telling a story or what the overall context is.  Next, share the main character’s perspective on what is going on – how did they see the situation?  What were they feeling?  This heightens the interest and energy level.  Then, make sure you get the sequence right. Not much “kills” a story more quickly than the storyteller having to go back and correct themselves (‘No, that’s not right.”) about what happened and when.  Clearly describing the challenge or dilemma (along with the person’s feeling response) is the next critical step.  Make sure your listeners know what the problem is that the character is facing, and their emotional response to the situation.  Tell what decision was made or the action chosen and then describe the result and its on impact you and the others in the situation.  Sometimes listeners “miss” an important part of the story or the context and need to be told exactly what happened and why it was important.  If needed, tell the lesson you learned.  In many stories, this is obvious, but sometimes the lesson you learned is important to delineate.

We all have interesting stories to tell. Sometimes we just need to stop and reflect, and then think about the best way to share the story in a way that will connect emotionally with others.

To learn more about communication at work, join Soundview and Dr. White for our webinar: Communicating Effectively Through Change.

Why Effective Leaders Use Stories To Train Others

Our guest blogger today is Dr. Paul White, author of Sync or Swim.

Most leaders focus on data and factual information.  And accurate data is important for making good decisions.  But throughout history, communicating facts has not been the most utilized method for developing leadership qualities.  Stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression.

Let me show you the power of stories and the incredible staying power they have in our lives.

    • Do you remember the Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare?  Briefly, in your mind, outline the gist of the story.  What is the main principle this story communicates?
    • How about the Back to the Future series of movies where Alex (Michael Fox) and Professor Brown are constantly trying to correct changes that occurred in the “space – time continuum”?  What key life principle are these stories communicating (indirectly, but powerfully) to the viewer?2

Why Stories Are So Powerful

 *Stories involve different parts of our brain, which makes learning (and remembering) more effective.  Stories obviously involve words, but stories also bring up visual images and pictures in our mind.  Also, the most effective stories involve emotionally-charged situations: challenges, risks and adventure.

*Stories are non-threatening, which keep people from not putting up their defenses. Stories are usually framed in the context of someone else (either the storyteller themselves, or the fictional characters of the story).  Since the story is not about me and usually communicated in an informal style, then most listeners start out with an “open” mindset

 *We often identify with one or more of the characters and we can easily relate to their experiences and reactions.  We “see” ourselves in the story and actually vicariously see ourselves experiencing the same challenges and emotions the characters are feeling.

 *We see characters that represent people in our lives (which gives us insight to them and why we react to them the way we do.)  Some stories have characters with whom we don’t personally relate, but they remind us of others in our lives.  The characters’ reactions then provide us insights into why they do what they do, and show us the strengths associated with character qualities that we may find irritating.

 *We are able to learn from others’ experiences and can observe different options for handling challenging situations and people.  One of the core benefits of stories is that they allow us to learn from others vicariously, rather than having to experience difficult situations ourselves.  We also are given examples of different ways to handle situations (both positively and poorly.)

 *Stories are easier to remember and communicate to others than facts and principles. Because of their use of imagery, we are able to remember the general gist of a story more easily than remembering pure factual information.   Additionally, we can quickly communicate the main points of a story and the lesson it teaches.

Watch and observe effective leaders and influencers.  They often are excellent at communicating through stories.  Think about life experiences that have impacted you, and start to tell stories to teach important lessons to those you are leading.

To learn more about communication at work, join Soundview and Dr. White for our webinar: Communicating Effectively Through Change.

How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards created the music of the Rolling Stones. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack built Apple. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe brought us iconic musicals, including Camelot and My Fair Lady. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were America’s most popular movie critics. All of these famously productive partnerships had one thing in common: They brought together an introvert and an extrovert.

The common wisdom is that introverts and extroverts do not work well together. The common wisdom, as author Jennifer Kahnweiler makes clear in her new book, The Genius of Opposites, is absolutely correct in the sense that the collaboration is often going to be contentious and difficult, filled with battles and miscommunications and sometimes deliberate sabotage. Somehow, however, the introvert/extrovert partnerships such as those cited above, as well as the many unknown partnerships that fill Kahnweiler’s book, produced extraordinary results. The key to such success, according to Kahnweiler, is the five-step process at the heart of her book.

The ABCDEs of Collaboration

The first step, Kahnweiler argues, is to accept the alien. If introverted and extroverted people want to partner, they have to realize that they will never change the personality of the other person. Instead, each partner has to make a conscious effort to understand the other.

The second step is to bring on the battle. Kahnweiler explains that battles don’t have to be avoided (unless, of course, they destroy the partnership). Instead, they can be the means through which each partner is challenged by the other, resulting in solutions that are better than those that might have been developed individually.

The third of Kahnweiler’s steps is to cast the character. Because there are two very different personalities in the partnership, partners should take on the roles that best fit their unique personalities.

Kahnweiler’s fourth step is to destroy the dislike. It’s easy for two people with such clashing personalities to develop deep animosity toward each other. They must work, instead, on learning to respect and like each other as much as possible.

The fifth and final step is that each can’t offer everything. Introvert/extrovert consulting partnerships are often powerful because neither partner could offer clients all they want — but the two partners working together are able to present a much more diverse but complementary product or service.

For each step of her ABCDE methodology, Kahnweiler covers why that particular step is important, the pitfalls that can break down the step and the solutions that ensure success. Bring on the battles, for example, is important because the energy and creativity that emerge from constructive conflicts are best for the organization and lead to better solutions. Also, Kahnweiler writes, a major conflict can actually be a turning point in the relationship, paving the way to a productive collaboration.

Kahnweiler warns, however, that battles can also deal fatal blows to introvert/extrovert collaboration, for example, if one partner considers him- or herself more important. Hiding your concerns is another way that battles can be fatal, according to Kahnweiler. If partners don’t bring out the “elephant in the room,” the result — passive-aggressive behavior from the extrovert and internalized resentment from the introvert — can eventually destroy the partnership.

Battles can be productive, however, with a little work from each partner. Clear communication, bringing in a third party to break through an impasse and taking time-outs will help conflicts from degenerating.

Kahnweiler doesn’t gloss over the difficulties in making extrovert/introvert partnerships work. The Genius of Opposites is filled with stories of conflicts, most resolved through an effort at communication and a foundation of respect. Not all stories have a happy ending. Kahnweiler reports that in his memoir, Lerner believes he and his partner Loewe could have written more wonderful musicals if they could have gotten along. “In the end we were a little like the couple being discussed in one of Noel Coward’s plays. ‘Do they fight?,’ says one. ‘Oh, no, said the other. They’re much too unhappy to fight.”

The Genius of Opposites is an important manual for partners with clashing personalities who never want to become too unhappy to fight.

The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers

LESSONS FOR MASTERING SILOS One of the most disastrous examples of the “silo” effect, in which an entity’s different units are isolated and focused exclusively on themselves, is the great recession of 2008, according to financial journalist Gillian Tett, who wrote a book on the financial crisis. “Almost everywhere I looked in the financial crisis, it seemed that tunnel vision and tribalism had contributed to the disaster,” Tett writes, describing her research. “People were trapped inside their little specialist departments, social groups, teams or pockets of knowledge. Or, it might be said, inside their silos.” After finishing Fool’s Gold, her book on the financial crisis, Tett decided to explore in more detail the silo effect and its impact on all facets of our society. The result is a fascinating new book entitled The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers. It may come as a surprise to many, Tett writes, that the silo effect should be so influential in today’s interconnected world. With the technology and wide variety of instant and global communication tools available today, the idea that people, business units, institutions and agencies can be “closed off” from the rest of the world can seem anachronistic. This is what Tett calls the paradox of an interconnected world. “In some senses, we live in an age where the globe is more interlinked, as a common system, than ever before,” she writes. “But while the world is increasingly interlinked as a system, our lives remain fragmented.” Organizations are subdivided into many units that don’t talk to each other, nations are polarized along political lines, and even professions seem to become increasingly complex, their secrets open only to a small pool of experts. “People,” Tett explains, “live in separate mental and social ‘ghettos,’ talking and coexisting only with people like us.” If some of Tett’s terms, such as “mental and social ghettos” or “tribalism,” seem to be more the jargon of an anthropologist than a financial journalist, there is a reason: Before becoming a financial journalist, Tett trained as an anthropologist, earning her Ph.D. after spending months in a remote mountainous village in Soviet Tajikistan, studying a culture that maintained its ethnic, Muslim identity while embedded in a Soviet, atheistic society. The Anthropological Foundation of Silos Tett’s anthropological background is what makes The Silo Effect a unique and illuminating treatise on what can sometimes be seen as a maddening phenomenon. As Tett makes clear, the silo effect exists because that’s what people tend to do. Before launching into the case studies that form the heart of the book, she spends an entire chapter laying the anthropological foundation of silos, notably through the work of anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu, of “classification” — that is, humans’ tendency “to arrange space, people and ideas.” We create mental maps that become the cultural “habits” that govern our physical and social environment. Silos, Tett explains, are thus “cultural phenomena,” arising out of the systems we use to classify and organize the world. In the first half of the book, Tett details three cautionary stories of the damage that can be wrought by the silo effect, focusing on the once innovative Sony, left behind in the digital revolution; financial giant UBS, which was devastated more than any other bank by the subprime mortgage crisis; the world’s economists who failed to notice the global financial crisis fast approaching. However, just as Bourdieu argued that humans are not robots and can’t deprogram their mental maps, Tett insists that we can master silos rather than the other way around. The second half of the book tells positive stories of “silo-busters,” including Facebook, giant medical center Cleveland Clinic and hedge fund BlueMountain Capital. Perhaps the most engaging story in this second half is the journey of a thin, shy computer geek who joined the Chicago Police in the wake of 9/11 and would eventually be able to use his computer training to help the police break down its silos. From these stories, Tett draws the lessons of how to master silos: keeping the boundaries of teams “flexible and fluid,” with multiple opportunities for members of different teams to “collide and bond”; ensure that compensation plans discourage silos; ensure the open flow of information; encourage the questioning of the rules of the environment; and use technology to break down the silos. Insightful, engaging and practical, Tett may have written the definitive work on the silo phenomenon.

A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest


When a valued employee suddenly and unexpectedly gives his or her notice, managers and supervisors will want to know why. Often, they will seek the answer in the “exit interview,” the standard meeting between outgoing employees and their bosses. The concept of exit interviews raises an obvious question: Would it not be better to find out why valued employees may want to leave before they turn in their resignation letters?

Consultant Richard Finnegan agrees and offers a solution: the “stay” interview. In his book The Stay Interview: A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest, Finnegan lays out the process for regular face-to-face meetings during which managers can pre-emptively uncover problems and concerns and resolve them.

Questions and Probes

The goal of the stay interview, and one that differentiates it from performance reviews or personal-development meetings, is for the employee to set the agenda, not the manager. This does not mean that the manager should not prepare for the meeting. On the contrary, managers should prepare as much as possible, Finnegan writes. For example, he suggests that before the meeting managers prepare two lists: an “important to them” list and a “my beliefs” list. The “important to them” list is an effort to anticipate (and thus be prepared to respond to) all the issues and concerns that the employee might have. “Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that if something is important to you, then it must be important to everybody,” warns Finnegan. “Conducting effective stay interviews requires putting your needs on the sidelines and focusing entirely on those of your employees.” The “my beliefs” list must follow this rule. It is a list of solutions or suggestions that managers believe should be offered (if the employee does not ask for them first) because they believe the employee will benefit from them.

The next step is to prepare the questions for the interview that will, in essence, help the employee set the agenda — that is, keep the meeting focused on his or her needs and not the needs of the manager. Finnegan offers five key questions to use in the interviews:

When you come to work each day, what things do you look forward to?

What are you learning here?

Why do you stay here?

When was the last time you thought about leaving our team? What prompted it?

What can I do to make your experience at work better for you?

These questions are the opening to the conversations. Each question, Finnegan emphasizes, must be followed up with what he calls “probes”: questions designed to dig deep into the reasoning of the employee’s responses. Effective probing will reveal the core emotions, concerns or challenges at the heart of the first responses to the questions.

Four Essential Skills

Probing, according to Finnegan, is one of the four essential skills required to make stay interviews work. Listening and taking notes are also essential skills, but it may be the fourth skill that Finnegan highlights that may be the most challenging to managers: supporting the employee without throwing the company under the bus. It’s easy in such situations to commiserate with the employee about the unfairness of the situation. In the long run, however, an employee is not going to stay engaged in a company in which even middle managers agree that the executives don’t know what they’re doing. Managers, Finnegan writes, should respond by expressing to employees their trust in top management — a trust that must be sincere. If managers have their own doubts about the company, they are not in a good position to work with employees on engagement.

Finnegan’s comprehensive guide, which covers all the facets of stay interviews, including developing stay plans and avoiding interview traps, does not gloss over the challenge of keeping the best and brightest in the company. In The Stay Interview, he introduces a valuable employee engagement tool that is realistic and practical but requires a conscientious effort from both parties.

The Subtle Science of Getting Your Way


How do you get people to see things your way? Whether you’re trying to secure a promotion, make a sale or rally support for a new idea, the ability to persuade those around you is absolutely essential to success.

Merging research and real-world application, Persuasion Equation is an insightful guide that reveals what really drives decisions, and introduces readers to the persuasion  equation –– a powerful combination of factors proven to speed agreement.

Readers will discover the surprising reasons that people say “yes” and learn how to radiate an aura of expertise; win trust and leverage credibility; build a business case that appeals to both heart and mind; adapt for personality differences; understand technology challenges and persuasion tactics; use language strategically; perfect the five-step persuasion process; generate group buy-in; and be sensitive to the crucial psychology of self-persuasion.

From crafting compelling emails, to convincing a colleague, to nailing the big presentation, Persuasion Equation is your personal recipe for success.


• The three persuasion precepts and how to set your persuasion priorities.

• Key heuristics and biases that influence your decision making.

• To build a convincing business case via quantitative and qualitative reasoning.

• To build credibility and use verbal and nonverbal “power language.”

• Why positive self-talk is key to your persuasive efforts.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.


By Daniel F. Prosser, Author, ‘Thirteeners – Why Only 13% Of Companies Successfully Execute Their Strategy And How Yours Can Be One Of Them’

There are two kinds of strategic planners I’ve encountered in the world of business and both of them are ALWAYS right. Which one you are most like?

Our first strategic planner sits down with their team and goes through all the right motions, has a grand dream they think they are committed to accomplish. They might see a big possibility for their future, yet with an almost unconsciousness, immediately and automatically follow their idea with, “but…” As in, “This is a great idea, BUT I just don’t think we are capable of making that happen this year”. Or, “That would be nice, BUT….” The word may not actually be spoken – yet often it is. Regardless, this is the word that runs the show; limits the possible future. And, what’s even more interesting is that everyone who thinks this way makes themselves absolutely correct in their statement.

The second strategic planner follows the same process for strategic planning for the year and yet they do something completely different with their idealized future. They W.

Huh? What is W?  Look very closely. What you’re looking at is the international symbol for putting your butt on the line. That’s right – there are two different types of strategists (leaders actually) and the ones who have the best chance of fulfilling on their dreams and plans are the ones who give up the word ‘But’ and literally take the risk of putting their butt on the line for what they want, regardless of the risks.

More leaders silently succumb to their ‘but’ and avoiding having to actually put their W on the line.

Why would this be a problem? Well, the shocking news is that 87% of companies fail to execute their strategy each year and then wonder why. To be clear – this isn’t the only reason they fail. But, (there’s that word again) it’s a very serious problem because what happens next when leaders are being observed and followed –their thinking and their fear of risk, becomes embedded as a hidden practice that gets repeated within their organization.

Just the mere silent indication that there’s any sort of resistance to “what’s next” creates what I call a cultural meme – a meme is an unspoken idea, behavior, or practice that spreads from person to person within a culture. Memes carry invisible or hidden messages – conversations actually and that is what really runs your company. You’re not aware of them because they are in the background. Memes operate like a virus to undermine and sabotage your best intentions – the things you would most like to have happen in your life or your business. When you understand memes and specifically the memes that operate in your workplace you literally take your power back to be able to say how it’s going to be and then have it be that way.

To earn more, join Daniel Prosser at our Soundview Live webinar: Become One of the 13% That Successfully Execute Their Strategy on August 13th.


5 Steps to Transform Your Team’s Passion into Execution of Your Strategy

This blog was first published by Daniel Prosser on

Every company leader wants to feel they’ve done everything possible to fulfill on their strategy every year. Leading studies show that while as many as 95% of companies have done the planning and created a cogent business plan or strategy, at least 87% of those companies won’t follow through and meet those goals this year, next year, or any year. And furthermore, it’s not the strategy that is usually at fault.

Keep this up every year and it won’t help that people, more likely your very best people, will ultimately begin leaving to find a better place to employ their talents. After all if you worked hard (and I think you are) to make a difference and it’s not working, what would you choose to do? It only makes sense.

You can do something about this in your company even if you don’t have all the right people on the bus just yet. Companies that have changed their thinking have put their companies on a course for actual 2 – 3X expansion of their current bottom-line performance. This is especially common among those companies known as ‘Best Places To Work’.

This is not fantasy thinking. Any company can do this. The difference between those companies who do it and those that don’t is those who do are willing to first uncover and confront what’s in the way, and then give up their current system of limited and limiting thinking. Gallup found that companies that do change their thinking see an average of 2.6 times more growth in earnings, 12% higher customer advocacy, 18% higher productivity, and 12% higher profitability. Every bit of those improvements wind up on the bottom line.

“Almost every significant breakthrough has been the result of a courageous break with traditional ways of thinking” – Stephen R. Covey

The companies who produce these kinds of results have first identified what is standing in the way of their forward progress and then – they shift their current thinking, they unhook their current model; they shift their current paradigms. They literally go to work to transform the way they are ‘being’ versus concentrating on what they are ‘doing’ as a company, by adopting a new system in which they’ve literally risked their present ways of thinking to build a more powerful and profitable future.

What exactly did they shift?

  1. An Awareness of the conversations and beliefs that undermine and sabotage future performance and a new Awareness of what is truly possible once that truth has been told.
  2. An enduring vision of the future that puts everyone on the exact same page; a future that empowers people, can’t be forgotten, and won’t disappear or go out of existence.
  3. A strategy that eliminates the need for survival tactics and empowers employees and other stakeholders to take responsibility for causing breakthrough results.
  4. A future-focused culture that gets the constraints left by past performance out of the way of having what you say you want and create the connections people need with each other and to the activities (roles/goals/responsibilities) that are consistent with the vision.
  5. An accountability system that gives people back their power to produce ‘real measurable results’ using a new structure to support what the organization is committed to.

The challenge in shifting to a future based company is to maintain accelerated forward progress. To do this the leadership have to give something up. They need to give up being right and believing they have all the answers.

Once they set their egos aside and are promoting a more relational culture, they can then stop managing people and start managing the promises people make as they establish effective accountability and become more effective at managing promises that close the gaps between what is possible and current performance.

To learn more about the conversations that can move a company into the top 13%, register for our Soundview Live webinar with Daniel Prosser: Become One of the 13% That Successfully Execute Their Strategy.