Strategic Intelligence And Visionary Leadership

An overview of Strategic Intelligence
The last post on visionary leadership introduced Michael MacCoby’s Strategic Intelligence and his five core elements: Foresight, Systems Thinking, Visioning, Motivating and Partnering. Here’s a brief overview of the first three.

Foresight
The ability to identify trends and opportunities – the winds of change – based on deep knowledge and intuition.

  • Trusting your unconscious to process and make meaning of the knowledge you’ve built up.
  • And then following through on those instincts. Creating value and capitalizing on ‘what doesn’t exist now, but will in the future.’

For example:

  • Henry Ford took the idea of a car – initially perceived as a toy for the rich – and saw the potential for universal ownership. If he could bring the price within reach of the average consumer. He realized his vision by using mass production to achieve an affordable price.

Foresight is having the ability to see ‘down the road and round the corner’ over time. And most visionary leaders have this critical element – it’s often why we call them visionary.

Who had the foresight here?
Did you know that audio cassette technology was developed by engineers at Philips Electronics? Or so the story goes … and for whatever reasons, the company decided the cassette technology wasn’t worth keeping. So they sold it to Sony!

One can only guess why
Perhaps their audio and home entertainment division was focused on high end, quality sound reproduction? Could Philips have passed the technology to another of their own divisions? Did their ‘portable products’ division exist at the time? 

Sony had the foresight in this story. Some would credit the cassette technology and the products developed around it  – from boom box to Walkmans™ – with making Sony a household name. And when you think about foresight, you might wonder if Sony’s leaders were seeing ‘down the street and around the corner’ quite literally!

Yet foresight is only one of the elements MacCoby believes are needed to sustain long term growth.  The real challenges come into play when the other elements are missing.

Systems Thinking

Standard business thinking tends deal with complexity by dividing things –dynamic systems – into parts for the purpose of making them easier to manage and control.

As an illustration, take the question “How do you eat an elephant?” And the classic answer “One bite at a time.” That’s one bit, or bite at a time thinking.

Systems thinkers look at integrated (whole) systems, seeing and evaluating inter-dependent parts by how well they serve the overall purpose of the system. Focusing on the relationships between the parts that make a system function well, or not so well.

Back to the elephant …
Systems thinkers would ask questions like:

  • What’s our purpose for eating the elephant?
  • What critical events led up to the elephant? 
  • What relationships can we see between those events and other behaviors overtime? And how did they affect each other to create the elephant? 
  • What/who else is going to be affected by how we eat the elephant?
  • What happens to everyone if we make changes to anything?

System Thinking ‘Tools’ provide processes and archetypes for scenerio planning, managing change, innovating and problem solving. And equally important, avoiding unintended consequences, or fixes that fail. More on Systems Thinking.
 

Visioning
Combining Foresight and Systems Thinking into a holistic vision that uniquely positions your organization in the marketplace. And making it happen in the real world by selling the vision to others, while you constantly re-vision and adapt to changing circumstances.
Here’s a simple example …

  • Henry Ford’s Vision of ‘one model, one colour, one size’ worked initially. Yet it was a vision that failed to grow and adapt! It stopped working as soon as the competition matched Ford’s mass production techniques … and then forged ahead to meet the market demand for colors and other options.

On the other hand …

  • Microsoft’s Vision evolved from ‛a computer in every home’ pre 1999, to ‛empowering people through software, anytime, anyplace’ and in 2002, ‛to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.’ So far, Microsoft continues testing, evolving and adapting new ideas.   

Up next …
Motivating and Partnering. 

Advertisements

Visionary Leadership – the missing link

What can a ‘psychoanalyst’ tell us …
About leadership, change and creating long term success? Quite a lot it seems, especially if the ‘psychoanalyst’ has over 30 years experience coaching and advising CEOs and their teams, for multi-nationals.

And if you knew the same qualities could multiply your own career success, would you be interested?

Why visionaries fail
Have you noticed how often ‛glory stories’ in the business media seem to precede a fall from grace, a dramatic slide in the fortunes of organizations and their leaders?

From his personal vantage point Michael MacCoby, PhD., identified five core skills that are …

  • practiced by leaders who drive innovation and change to create long term success,
  • and missing in others, namely the visionary leaders who crash and burn just as they seem to approach the pinnacle of achievement.

The missing link
MacCoby defines the missing link as Strategic Intelligence, a combination of Foresight, Systems Thinking, Visioning, Motivating and Partnering.

He believes many leaders and entrepreneurs master the hard intelligence skills of Foresight and Systems Thinking, the numbers and technology. Yet far fewer develop what MacCoby calls the ‘real world’ skills of Visioning, Motivating and Partnering.
 

‘Real world’ skills 
Curious about this finding, I began reflecting on why Innergize clients seek out coaching and attend NLP programs. It’s usually because they are looking for ways to strengthen those ‘real world’ skills. Interestingly, MacCoby uses the term ‘real world’ skills interchangeably with soft skills.

NLP together with Systems Thinking, provides a great set of tools for developing and strengthening Strategic Intelligence – for living, leading and thriving in a changing world.

Next up, a closer look at MacCoby’s Strategic Intelligence, element by element.

The Environment – News Mainstream Media Misses

Are you concerned about the environment?
For those of us fortunate enough to be living in a developed country, I admit this is a rhetorical question. Most of us are already modifiying our behaviour, making small yet consistent changes to benefit the planet. 

Perhaps the bigger question is …
“Are we being given all of the information available to base those changes on?”  Or have we as a society, been high-jacked by those with a political agenda who would willingly discount facts in favour of a moralistic ‘better way?’

Are we discarding facts in our rush to the moralistic high ground?
An interesting question to which there are many answers, many points of view. Here’s a blog tracking environmental changes you may never read or hear about in mainstream media, because they run against current politically correct doctrine. A source of scientific facts offering many perspectives on the issue.    Wattsupwiththat and ice

An interesting coincidence
Last spring, while coaching a sales team I had an opportunity to sit in on a meeting with Kiewit, a construction, engineering and mining services company, very active in northern Canada. 

In the course of the conversation, a project manager commented that an ice bridge used to transport supplies into remote areas north of Fort McMurry (not accessible over land in warm weather) had been fully operational in the previous winter – 2006/07 – for over 180 days. Far longer than in recent years. Based on my less than perfect memory, this made it “the longest in 10 years.” Anecdotal but interesting.

Wondering?
Why would content like this appear on a blog for communications, motivation and neuro-linguistics? That’s a good question. Human motivation, motives and the words people use to justify their actions and influence the behaviour of others, all very interesting …

Achieving Goals With Help From Your Mind’s Eye

The February issue of Fast Company has a piece on the role visualizing plays in goal achievement. If you found the two posts on Beliefs, Wishes and Goals useful, then Make Goals Not Resolutions may be worth a look.  The second page has a simple but powerful example of the process in action and the benefits. 

Neuro-linguistics offers some excellent techniques for fine tuning the qualities of your mental images. Qualities or visual distinctions you can use to support new behaviours, change beliefs about your own capabilities, and strengthen your confidence and other resources. 

The same qualities or distinctions can also be used to render those unhealthy foods we find way too tempting into something less attractive. Think of dressing up your favorite food, perhaps chocolate, so that it becomes as compelling as liver. Hummm … perhaps not. What about seeing it as something you can enjoy, just in small quantities.  Better!

Unconscious Communication And Job Fit – Part 5

Difference ways of relating at work
In part 4 of this series we looked at Sam’s perceptual filters for tackling tasks and getting things done at work – his need for procedures, tangible things and details. 

Now let’s decode the filters Sam’s boss Roger uses to achieve results at work – his passion for options and preference for working with general concepts rather than concrete details.  Once again think of decoding the subtext of language and other unconscious behaviours. (See part 4.) 
 

Decoding non-verbal behaviour
Roger usually drives with one hand on the steering wheel and a blackberry device in the other. At the same time he’ll be carrying on a conversation using one of his manycell phones.  Hands-free, of course.  On the scale of his career, he’s the consummate multi-tasker!  Juggling several projects at once gives him the variety he craves and the freedom to enjoy it. And that’s a clue signaling Roger’s passion for spontaneity and creating options, choices, alternatives.

Another tip off
Taking Roger through a methodical discussion leading to a final decision is impossible. He jumps from topic to seemingly unconnected topic, interrupting the flow of conversation. Making leaps of logic and generally racing ahead to insightful conclusions.

No decision is ever final. He can change his mind and his plans in an instant, and numerous times. Yet Roger intuitively knows when ideas will jell. He makes brilliant connections because he thinks in not just big, but huge pictures.  

In addition to options, those behaviour patterns signal a resistance to procedural activities and a preference for thinking in very general terms.  (And Roger does prefer leaving the details to others.)
 

Decoding language – structure and process
The words Roger uses reveal more.   He peppers his language with phrases like ‘creating alternatives,’ using ‘multiple approaches,’ having ‘the freedom to choose’ and keeping his ‘options open.’ He talks of ideas and concepts like ‘taking advantage of opportunities,’ ‘getting people on board’ and ‘high impact results.’ Intangible and general terms rather than concrete ‘things,’ you can see, hear, do and measure. And the details are conspicuous by their absence.

A mis-match of filters 
Roger and Sam are polar opposites in the way they filter information and function at work. So it’s little wonder they find it less than easy to communicate. It also explains why Sam is struggling to fit the role Roger expects him to fill. 

While there is no one right or best way to filter information, the key to motivation and productivity is to match people with jobs where core competencies and essential tasks fit their natural way of filtering information. They in turn will be able to function in ways that meet your criteria for success.

Unconscious and Non-Verbal Communications

For clarity
If you’ve been following the series on Decoding Non-verbal Communications (five parts so far) it has been renamed Unconscious Communications And Job Fit. The intention is to reduce any confusion between language and non-verbal cues. Both are unconscious communications.

Non-verbal  communications broadly refers to observable changes in physiology and voice tonality. There is a non-verbal component to language in the structure and process implied.  To reduce ambiguity, that aspect of language will be classified as unconscious communication.

The retitled series will continue. Your comments and feedback are appreciated. See the space below. 

Beliefs, wishes and goals – part 2

Testing your goals – how committed are you?
You have plans for 2008, important goals you want achieved.  Yet have you given any thought to how much of your success will depend on what you believe? And the strengths of those beliefs? 

More important than the level of your skills
What you believe about your ability to go out and make those goals happen will impact your results. What you sort of believe doesnt count! Maybe doesn’t count! Only firm beliefs will give you the determination and conviction to keep going when you hit resistance. Or obstacles. Any goal worth achieving will have a few obstacles.

What self talk reveals …
Listen to the questions you ask yourself.  The questions that dominate your self-talk shape your future.  Are your questions loaded with why? Why did this happen, why didn’t that happen? 
Questions like …

  • Why didn’t I get that opportunity when I worked so hard for it?
  • Why did that person fail to recognize the value I offer?
  • Why do I always seem to lose my focus just when things are going well? 
  • Why do I find (fill in the blank) so intimidating?
  • Why did I make such a (fill in the blank) decision?

Why questions focus on the past – the one thing you can’t change! Better to focus on now and the future you want using what and how questions. 
Questions like …

  • What do I want to create? 
  • How am I going to do it? 
  • What do I already have going for me that I can build on? 
  • What is the best next step? And how can I accomplish that?
  • What positive outcome could that person be trying to achieve by doing that behaviour? And how can I help them to be more effective? 

Driving with one foot on the brake
Finally, if you’re feeling a little stuck when logically, rationally, you have everything you need to get going? Perhaps it’s time to consider a coach.  There are comfortable, quick and effective ways to get you moving when you’re ready.

Just a suggestion
A coach trained in neuro-linguistics can help you turn weak beliefs and wishes into conviction, share a nifty technique for handling competing priorities, and align the values driving your goals for maximum motivation.  However you do it, here’s a wish that you get your 2008 off on a running start and have a terrific year!
 

Beliefs, wishes and goals!

A new year, a fresh start …
And I’ve decided I’ll be a more consistent blogger. Perhaps not better. Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it’s at least a step in the right direction. 

Have you decided where you’re headed this year?
So, do you have plans? Important goals for 2008? And are they really big enough? Because if you shoot for the stars and fall a little short, at least you’ll land on the moon.

Can you get there from here?
Will what you’re doing now move you forward fast enough and in the right direction? If not, what are you planning to do differently?  I have a friend who is fond of telling his team 
If things don’t change around here, we’re going to end up where we’re headed!” And he could be right. So be sure that where you’re headed is where you really want to go!

Do you really believe you can do it?
Believing you have the ability to make it happen is essential. Do you think you should be able to achieve your objective because others have done it, but you’re not absolutely sure? Then it’s a probably more like a wish than a belief.

Beliefs – a call to action
If it’s just a wish masquerading as a belief you’re unlikely to make the consistent effort needed to achieve your goals.  Action level is the true measure of the strength of your beliefs. Do you act as if they are true? 

Test yourself – belief or wish?
Ask yourself, if you truly believed your plans were going to come to fruition, what would you be doing right now?  What one idea can you begin to put into action now, that gets you started?

Next up
What your self talk can reveal about beliefs. Or is it only a wish? Coming soon (see opening paragraph.)

Fuel Consumption And Competent Managers

Connecting the links
This started out to be simply two interesting links from Fast Company, but on reflection … perhaps there is a subtle connection? You decide.

Lower our reliance on oil and have our SUVs too?
Perhaps we can, if vehicle manufacturers would turn their creative energy towards mass producing innovations generated by people like Jonathan Godwin.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way … so what can we as consumers do to assist Detroit and others to discover the will? Interesting thought.

Motorhead Messiah by Clive Thompson
http://trax.fastcompany.com/k/w/mailman/fasttake/20071107/motorhead   

Management behaviours you don’t want to see
This one is worth reading even if you are the manager, since we all self-manage to some extent.  And perhaps discover connections. 

‘Ten Signs of Incompetent Managers’ by Margaret Heffernan
http://trax.fastcompany.com/k/w/mailman/fasttake/20071107/managers

My seven favorites follow, but why not check out Heffernan’s list for yourself.

A bias against action – no action also means no feedback about what will move your forward
Secrecy  – sure way to drain the power and passion from a Vision
Love of proceduresee previous post and think balance
Preference for weak candidates – leaders hand pick teams for excellence 
Focus on small tasks – what are they avoiding and why
Allergy to deadlines – energy and excitement comes from taking responsibility for meeting commitments and achieving goals
Addiction to consultantsavoid the dependency trap by ensuring your own people have time to absorb new skills   

Unconscious Communication And Job Fit – Part 4

Would more clues be helpful?
I had a call from a friend asking for a few more clues for this series so I’m thinking it could be be useful for others as well. (See Parts One through Three)

First, you may be wondering … 
When this series first published it was called decoding ‘non-verbal’ communication. It has been renamed because the focus is clearly on the (unconscious) structure and process of language and behaviour.  The non-verbal aspect of language.   Think of it as the subtext of the words, what language communicates – without intention or awareness – about how people function in a given situation.

Their mental filters, blind spots and what it will take to motivate them. Literally how they’ll behave, what they’ll focus on, what they’ll delete and what types of assumptions they can be expected to make.

Recognizing a preference for process
Sam in this series uses a procedural approach or filter when working. This is revealed by the words he unconsciously selects when speaking about his career.  In situations or contexts where people are using a procedural filter, we can predict the following behaviours: 

  • They need structure and a process to work effectively. In fact, give them a task without a procedure, and they won’t know how to get started!
  • Once they understand the process they’ll follow it, no matter how often the task is done. Or whether it’s installing software, assembling equipment, writing a report or making sales calls. 
    And that’s critical when compliance standards and SOPs must be met.
  • They’ll actually read the instructions for new projects — before starting!
  • Once started on a process they’ll feel a compelling need to finish it.
  • If they seem to be dragging their feet, it means they don’t have a procedure to follow. So give them one.
  • They’re more efficient when they can complete one task at a time. If you interrupt them in the middle of doing something, they’ll probably lose their train of thought need to start over at the beginning.  They’ll find frequent interruptions stressful.
  • Because they are comfortable with process, they will listen to your (sales) presentation without interrupting.   
  • They will talk about processes and having to do the right things, the right way, and following sequential or step-by-step procedures.

Who do you work with who may be filtering for process? And what if you have a different way of getting things done on-the-job? See filtering for options (the other end of the continuum) and Roger’s pattern coming soon.