Growth & Leadership Insights

Breaking Innovation Barriers

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Most organizations pronounce their commitment to curiosity, creativity and innovation; yet the reality is that many of these companies can be hostile to the exploration of new ideas.

To achieve predictable growth, it is perceived as less risky to pursue operational efficiency through continuous improvement than to challenge the status quo, encouraging the exploration of innovations that might possibly disrupt a stable business.

But with most organizations being steadily challenged by changing customer needs, technology or processes, isn’t sustaining a stable business a myth? Shouldn’t leaders be seeking to drive productive change rather than always reacting to it?

In a recent HBR article on barriers to innovation, 55% of the responding senior leaders cited internal politics (turf battles) as the most significant obstacle to the pursuit of innovation; and 45% of these leaders cited cultural barriers as the second largest barrier. Specific obstacles reported are:

Lack of time for innovation – people are expected to invest extra time and effort exploring new ideas without specific direction, guidance or incentives;
No support from senior leaders – innovation is not encouraged; there are no rewards or celebrations for new ideas, or for lessons learned from novel concepts that are not adopted;
No process or budget […]

By |September 12th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Relationships Matter

Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

You’ve heard business people say, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Because you care about your business, everything about it is personal. The relationships you build, inside and outside your business, are your most important asset. Relationships matter.

Business is a team sport. As a leader, you are dependent on others for your success. You create a direction and context for action; you influence and inspire. Developing trusting, committed and powerful relationships with all stakeholders is a fundamental part of your job description.

An enlightened leader creates a culture where powerful business relationships can flourish. Aligning the culture around a purpose, core values and goals promotes trust and collaboration, enabling employees to take risks, learn from mistakes and adapt quickly, resulting in greater loyalty and a successful, growing enterprise.

An integral part of this culture includes a profound respect for and commitment to customers. Leaders must remain outward-looking, building strategic, partner-like relationships with core customers that help them succeed. Consistently delivering promised benefits that resolve short term needs, while also contributing to a customer’s progress and goal achievement, builds an enduring relationship. Rewards for customer commitment include recurring revenue, higher ROI on […]

By |September 4th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Battling Commoditization

Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

The market is tilted in favor of commoditization:

information about available suppliers and options is easy to acquire online;
assessment of these alternatives is designed to enable prompt, simple allocation into pre-determined boxes; and
minimal energy and time is invested to gain additional insight about offerings beyond what is evident through readily available information.

In this market, your process for responding to inquiries must be distinctive, separating you from competitors. To avoid confirming that yours is a commodity business, your response must get beyond answering posed questions and quoting prices, to soliciting a discovery conversation.

Establishing dialogue with a prospect humanizes your business, changing it from a data point in a table of alternatives to an actual, tangible team of serious business people who seek to propose the most productive solutions to help the prospect succeed. Conducting this discovery discussion provides your opportunity to be distinctive.

Engaging the prospect in a discovery process:

Identifies the prospect’s stated need and problem, and how they define value or success for them;
Exposes the importance of resolving the need or problem (unmet goals? unfulfilled strategies?);
Uncovers barriers that are inhibiting progress;
Heightens the prospect’s awareness that prompt action is needed;
Expedites your understanding about the prospect’s decision-making process; […]

By |August 29th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Questions About Choosing to Follow

Bob Schultek
Author of The Gauntlet
rschultek@grolistic.com
216-272-4449
   

People act in their own best interest. Before choosing to follow your lead, your team will assess your credibility (are you genuine?) and your intentions (why should I follow you?), asking themselves these 3 questions:

1. “Can you help me?” The number one reason that people choose to follow is because the leader is credible. More than vision, or communication skills, or other effective leadership characteristics, people need to believe that a leader has the credibility and competency to fulfill promises, to walk the talk. Your authenticity gives them confidence that they can benefit from following your lead.

2. “Do you care about me?” Having determined that following a leader can produce benefits, people focus next on evaluating how likely it is that this will occur. This judgement rests on the leader’s empathy and ability to explore how achievement of a shared goal presents advantages and opportunities for those on the team. It is a process of discovering the aspirations and needs of those you seek to lead rather than assuming that you know these answers. Asking the questions demonstrates caring.

3. “Can I trust you?” Making the commitment to follow is ultimately about trust. The generosity of time and energy you invest to discover what motivates your team becomes the genesis of a trusting relationship. Promising only what […]

By |August 22nd, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Sustainability & Value Creation

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

The fundamental premise for business acquisitions is that the merged organizations will be more valuable together than they would be if they continued as separate entities; an acquisition is expected to create value.

Yet, a multitude of research studies cite a high failure rate for mergers. One KPMG study indicates that 83% of acquisitions fail to boost value, and another by A.T. Kearney concludes that total return on many M&A deals is often negative.

These studies consistently point to poor cultural compatibility as the root cause for this high rate of acquisition failure?

The KPMG study and others agree that value creation is more dependent on successful culture integration than on any other factor. Without a timely and extensive integration of cultures, the sustainability of the acquired business is compromised, as is the opportunity for the deal to create value.

Start the integration process right by thoroughly evaluating cultural compatibility during due diligence; and prior to assessing the target organization’s culture, ensure that you understand your own. This will enable you to make clear choices about expected behaviors and other attributes for the merged entity.

Unfortunately, of the five key due diligence parameters for acquisitions – risk, price, strategy, management capacity and culture – the least attention is typically paid to culture integration. This […]

By |August 15th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Benefits from Promises

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Delivering promised benefits to a new customer communicates that you respect and value the business shared with you, and that your commitments are reliable. The customer’s confidence and trust grows, earning you consideration when the next opportunity arises.

Consistently producing promised benefits, time after time, builds customer loyalty. And when your solutions do more than resolve short term needs, when they also contribute to the customer’s progress and goal achievement, an enduring relationship is cultivated. Rewards for this level of customer commitment include recurring revenue, higher ROI on sales investment, exposure to innovation opportunities and strategic access to your customer’s senior leaders.

Finally, rewards earned from your enduring customer relationships enable you to keep promises to your people…promises of opportunity, business sustainability and job satisfaction. They also illustrate how your company makes a difference for your customers, fulfilling your purpose and enabling your people to realize the meaningfulness of their work. It’s this awareness that motivates those people to invest the extra effort necessary to launch innovations or continuously improve your business.
How do you ensure that your customers
are aware of promises kept?
 
How do you alert your people to 
customer relationship rewards you’ve earned?

By |August 7th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Sustaining Change

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Because people drive change, sustaining a change initiative requires a commitment from leadership to invest significant time and energy in engaging everyone connected with the effort. By remaining personally involved, modelling behaviors that support the change, and focusing more on why the change is essential than what is changing, leaders can preserve the vision of desired outcome or common goal.

They lead by exhibiting 3 qualities:

1. They remove barriers to success. These can be personal barriers such as fear of change, sense of loss, or wounded egos, and they can be organizational constraints like the time and resources necessary to carry out the change plan, or keeping key stakeholders connected to the vision of successful change through progress updates. Without this support, their peoples’ commitment to the change will waiver.

2. They adapt as they learn. Remaining deeply engaged means asking questions and gathering feedback to acquire accurate information that allows these leaders to make continual adjustments during the change initiative. Adjustments can involve keeping key people involved, breaking a larger initiative into smaller components to build momentum, or refining metrics to better monitor progress.

3. They cultivate collaboration. By encouraging their people to break out of their silos and work cross-functionally to resolve problems and […]

By |August 1st, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Opportunity from Disruption

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Change often leaves disruption in its wake. When that disruption is personal, it can be unsettling and disheartening; the sense that you have no control can paralyze decision-making.

Regaining control begins by recognizing the opportunity hidden within your challenge and moving forward to exploit it.

One of my associates recently shared the following quote about such situations from the book “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living” by Joseph Campbell. When disruptive change is personal, this message can sustain you.

“Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called ‘the love of your fate.’ Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, ‘This is what I need.’ It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment-not discouragement-you will find the strength is there. Any disaster that you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow. 

 Then, when looking back at your life, you will […]

By |July 25th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Growth Culture Drivers

Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

Organizations that sustain profitable growth tend to demonstrate three cultural drivers.

They are guided by their Purpose Motive. The organization understands how it contributes to its customers’ strategic progress, beyond providing quality products and exceptional service. Because its people realize how they make a difference, they are motivated to invest extra effort, strengthening offerings and operations to sustain their progress.

They are committed to Innovation. The business recognizes that innovation fuels its purpose by enabling its customers’ progress, and therefore, its own. Innovations with the highest probability of success are derived by creating a new product or service that resolves a customer’s challenge, fulfilling a strategic goal.

They foster a culture of Shared Accountability. These organizations consistently clarify that their progress depends on achieving their mutual goals in a manner consistent with their expected behaviors. Rewards are team-based, not driven by individual accomplishment. Team members trust in their shared purpose which promotes respect for one another, enabling them to productively challenge each other’s ideas on how best to promptly and efficiently resolve problems or overcome barriers. This leads to faster decision-making, improved performance and better results.

How impactful are these 3 drivers in your organization’s culture?
 
How could they accelerate the growth of your business?

By |July 9th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Why Buy the Quarter-Inch Drill?

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

“The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling him.” Peter Drucker

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” Theodore Levitt

Customers don’t care about products or services – they want solutions.

Developing a creative, satisfactory solution to a vital, unmet customer need is the origin of many businesses. But as it matures, the business often loses its focus on how it makes a difference for the customer, how it produces value that helps the customer succeed. Companies begin to define themselves in terms of the products or services they sell, rather than by the unique solutions delivered to meet a customer’s crucial need.

This is a natural evolution, typically driven by readily available data generated as a company monitors the products or services sold and the resulting profit produced. It’s much easier to track quantifiable sales or production data than it is to evaluate quantifiable benefits produced for customers. And as more is invested to improve existing products or services, or to increase the efficiency of the operations used to produce them, the pressure grows to pay even more attention to the accessible, operational data than to the customer experience.

It is true that the most […]

By |July 3rd, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments