The next time you’re out to develop new business for the company you can try to go about it in a more-than-traditional collaborative way. If you manage to implement the methodology more consistently you’ll find new business right in front of you and you might even get that competitive edge that will bring you to the top league (or keep you there).
Below you can read more about:
Traditionally new business is developed by the Board, C-level executives or perhaps by the Business Intelligence / Business Development Department. Sometimes in that order… It is also a very typically top-down hierarchal, silo thinking and limiting way of working. Opportunities for new business arises every day inside and around the organisation – why not grab these and put them into play?
Depending on the size of the company and the type of business you’re in, the departments in your company might have names and/or descriptions that differ from the list below. The take-aways should however be the same; it’s about asking the right questions in determining what should be new business.
Here’s what the relevant departments could be asking in search for new business opportunities:
Q1. What do customers tell our employees about our services/product (touch points)?
Q2. What are our employees experiencing to be counter-productive or directly negative?
Q3. Are we getting (these) inputs up the system to decision makers?
Q1. Is there a discrepancy against what the customer is looking for and what the company is offering?
Q2. Are competitors offering the same – only cheaper?
Q3. How could the company differentiate itself to customers?
Business Intelligence/Business Development:
Q1. Do we know what is working well?
Q2. What are the obvious knowledge gained from analysing previous successes?
Q3. Do we manage to identify positive and growing tendencies?
Q1. What do employees (incl. leaders) say when leaving the organisation?
Q2. Do performance reviews give inputs?
Q3. What are the observations of new employees 3 months in?
Q1. How are risks mitigated short and long-term incl. brand and employer value?
Q2. What are the social and environmental impacts and how does this support the business?
Q3. Can we do it smarter, cheaper etc. due to standardised ways of working?
Q1. Do we base our budgets on actual inputs from those working in the 1st line?
Q2. Are we using inputs for cost-reduction from our colleagues in other departments?
Q3. To create more realistic forecasts are we building bridges with our colleagues?
Q1. Where do we usually find misalignment between intention and practical outcomes?
Q2. In which area(s) are we normally experiencing the most lost resources (time, energy, finance, materials)?
Q3. What is the biggest learning that should be considered?
Q1. Are we attracting the right customers?
Q2. Are we making our employees proud to work with us so they will act as ambassadors?
Q3. Is storytelling part of the way we work (does previous successes allow/encourage new ideas?)
Q1. Are we using technology to go to market faster and smarter?
Q2. Is agile thinking something that is used by our colleagues (can we benefit from e.g. sprints)?
Q3. Can we make the customer journey better by applying data?
Q1. Why do our customers choose us now (Unique Selling Proposition)?
Q2. Where do our customers find room for improvement?
Q3. Which service would our clients pay (more) for as they can’t get it elsewhere (unmet needs)?
Those who work within those specific departments daily are the subject matter experts. Use them and use them well.
Using the questions above naturally there will be some overlapping of both topics and areas touched. As the organisation manages to bridge the silos when creating new business, the quality of the questions and the mutual understanding grows considerable. Hence the outcomes should gradually improve as a shared mindset starts evolving.
Other benefits of which some are the famous low hanging fruits are:
To gain most of the work and effort put in the New Bizz processes it is important to keep stakeholders involved for as long as it makes sense and let them be part of celebrating the new business when in place.
The questions in the first section are generic. They are meant to give an idea of the types of questions to ask – and perhaps be used as examples to get the process started.
A facilitator needs to lead the process. Perhaps some employees have experience in facilitation such as HR (Learning & Development), IT (agile) or BI/BD (Lean). It is important though to remember that for once this is not about saving money or reducing employees but rather it’s about generating, ripening and harvesting the best ideas to create new business for the company. Ideally the best processes are taken from the internal resources to design the facilitation – or a qualified and experienced facilitator from outside can be used. Sometimes the latter can help get the process started and aid in building trust around new ways of working.
To avoid meeting fatigue, make sure that meetings are run extremely structured and efficient so that no-one feels they are wasting time (or not being heard/involved). As the process gains traction and experience in a facilitated process grows remember the keywords are delegation, engagement and interaction so that everyone involved get that sense of ownership needed.
Are you creating New Bizz in your company/organisation in a way that is both structured and aids growing a culture of belonging – one that inspires WE leadership?
Do you have any inputs to the above that others may gain from?
Stay safe and inspire WE leadership
There is plenty of research available underlining the importance of leadership training and how those companies with a focus on developing their leaders outperform their competitors. This goes both on the financial level as well as on the task of accelerating business. If you’re looking for statistics and numbers you’ll find it from both Bersin by Deloitte as well as McKinsey and Company – just Google or Bing the headline above.
Investing in leadership development is rarely an investment in numbers but rather a matter of belief as the effect is difficult to measure – especially short term. As one who has experienced leadership training from both sides and has a passion for the topic I’d like to share some thoughts on why leadership training has no effect.
But first a word on the future of work and leadership:
A movement that is getting traction is that of companies (typically start-ups) that are completely abandoning the top-down matrix model as we know it from large corporations. These companies focus far more on competencies* for the job to be done than they do on titles meaning they’re getting rid of bottlenecks in terms of decision-making and letting employees make most decisions themselves.
The future skillset of leaders will therefore be to act more as facilitators and coaches; those who spark collaboration and grow employees (along with the business). In many ways, this is also why most leadership training is falling short: it is ineffective to focus on leadership as an individual skill – it need to be seen in a larger context where leadership is basically the tool for achieving your goals – in collaboration with others.
Now back on track: Here are 6 issues that greatly influence the effect of leadership training:
Whilst top-management probably both argued and agreed that leadership training was the way forward, the reason for the training is not directly apparent to the participants. This leaves participants on the fly not sure of the purpose of them being a part of the training. For those left outside this can be either as a feeling of relief for not being forced to be part of yet another corporate idea or envy not knowing why they were not selected to take part.
Is the training meant to accelerate top performers or to expand the toolbox of leaders who are not meant to climb the corporate ladder? Is leadership training for the selected few or for all leaders? And if not amongst the selected few does this mean that one is not part of the long-term plan in the company? How about talents who hasn’t yet filled up a managerial role? How do they fit in the picture?
The decision to take on leadership training must – absolutely must – be communicated within the organisation. E-mails, newsletters and company video-updates are the perfect tools to make sure that employees/leaders feel disengaged. Do it right – make it personal. (Afterwards you can follow up via multiple channels)
If the company can afford to start up a leadership programme across the organisation, those in charge should be able to find and afford the time to talk directly to those involved. Otherwise rest assured they are disengaged from the beginning and will be spending more time with their laptops and smartphones during the leadership training than diving in deep for a learning and development experience.
Whilst there might be a perfectly good reason for separating the two, such as different strategic goals what happens is that the company miss out on a perfect opportunity to build bridges between ‘them’ and ‘us’ and let leaders find common ground creating and inspiring a ‘WE’.
It is through social interaction we get to know each other, build trust and hence start supporting and encouraging each other. One would think that it’s important to break down silos and find those infamous synergies. Hence leadership training should not be the wedge used to separate departments/business units rather the glue that bring them together.
Whilst some leadership programmes are aimed at specific challenges within the organisation the better of the programmes support leadership being something not only exercised but equally something that is talked about and discussed.
Leadership is about walking the talk – in many ways it is also about talking the walk. How will 1st line/junior leaders KNOW this training is important if they don’t get to talk leadership with their top-level seniors? And how will the experienced (and sometimes isolated) leaders find out what is on the mind of junior leaders if they are not put together in a forum like leadership training? For sure this interaction will not happen by itself – it need a big spark to get started.
Rarely C-level executives are getting their ‘hands dirty’ with the mob although that would be inspirational. As Junior/1st line leaders fail to experience the commitment from top level seniors they disengage. Also senior leaders who doesn’t feel the commitment from the top disengage.
The organisation has determined that leadership is on the agenda and important if not vital for the future of the company. Yet leadership is not an item discussed during weekly, monthly, quarterly meetings etc. It’s not even part of the any other business bullet on the agenda. If leadership within the organisation is not something that is nurtured and kept alive it will wither away. I’m sure you’ve sat in on many meetings where you discussed a lot of burning platforms (managerial stuff) in the company – did you also discuss the burning desires (leadership stuff)?
The mature organisations that are presently working out of a purpose led direction have an advantage here – yet they too are challenged when it comes to talk openly about leadership. Talking openly about leadership means that it is accepted to talk about e.g. ethics and morale because this is the only way that the leaders can build up long term consensus and trust.
You can make leadership abilities part of the annual or six-month performance evaluation. However, this evaluation is losing leverage overall as many companies have already found it to be insufficient (I recon you have too). Performance development is a continued process that goes on every day – not something that happens once or twice a year. Would you wait 6 months to fix your car if it sounds odd?
Performance and improvement of same should be on the agenda daily as the leader develop his/her colleagues, both at peer level as well as above and below aiming at making other people succeed. As Generation Y is estimated to account for +60% of the workforce by 2025 leaders of today need to focus on collaboration to be accepted as leaders of tomorrow. A good leader is a good facilitator and manage to bring out the best ideas, make them happen and have a thriving team at the same time.
If you think something is missing from the above I’d love to get your inputs so the post can be updated accordingly. Remember to keep it BS free.
Stay safe and inspire WE leadership
Have you ever felt you had the wrong career or perhaps the wrong mindset? Did you ever feel that you’ve worked in a broken way of collaborating inhibiting development, improvement and motivation?
I have, which for me has led to changed paths often enough in search for my niche in life. I’ve been both fired and promoted for speaking out. The companies I’ve worked for all said they promoted a culture of assertiveness though.
Being lucky enough to be familiarized with many industries I haven’t found one which is so conservative as the maritime not realizing this is a one-way street where failing is the only destination.
As in most other industries there is an administration part and a production part. In the maritime sector these two are physically separated. Tendency is on the on-shore taking more and more control with a we-know-better mentality.
Why is this bad? The on-shore organisation has a better and more thorough understanding of the business and what it takes to succeed. Those ashore are in a better position to see things in the helicopter perspective.
Perspective is not an issue here – the way collaboration and information sharing work is.
Most companies are looking for a pull-culture while they are themselves promoting a push-culture throughout.
Whilst I took on senior operational roles this is what I experienced and hence learned again and again. The more I tried to raise the flag of operational and safety issues that could easy be not only optimized but also benefit the company as a whole – the more often I was told to shut it.
Every year seafarers die due to suffocation in tanks or cargo holds. Whilst I was mostly working on liner vessels transporting containers, cargo holds still needed ventilation if anyone was to enter.
On one specific route, we were carrying mixed cargo including reefers with dairy, meat and fruit. A lot of full ones to the north – and mostly empty ones to the south. The vessel was experimental in its design so rather than relying solely on electricity to power the cooling, reefers in the cargo holds could plug into a water cooling system on board.
To run the system on water the number of reefers needed to be above a certain number though. Which meant that when we were transporting mostly empty ones the few live ones had to run purely on electrical power.
As the reefers needed to be checked physically at least twice a day we had to have the ventilation running if the containers were inside the cargo hold. This was primarily to ensure sufficient supply of oxygen for the people entering. If the reefers had been on deck the natural ventilation would have been adequate and time used for each check reduced considerably due to easier access.
We started noticing a pattern where – for no obvious reason – live reefers were placed inside the cargo holds instead of on deck when we were south bound and the numbers of live reefers was low. We saw this as a low hanging fruit of improvement; by planning slightly better, all the live reefers could actually be placed on deck thereby practically eliminating the necessity for running the cargo hold fans.
We summoned our findings in a friendly and professional report arguing how the company could benefit from taking a different approach. Finding an area of easy gain, we felt as part of the company team. We forwarded the report to both the regional planning department as well as the company department handling environmental improvement. Whereas the latter embraced our findings and suggestions the former quickly rose to their toes. They were mad about us telling them how to do their job.
We were sent an e-mail summoning how the employees of the planning department tolled an average experience in their job of +25 years. I myself had a mere 3 years as a senior. After additional correspondence – the identified savings on economy and the environment were used for – you’ve guessed it: Absolutely nothing.
Years later I was working as a maritime pilot – a local advisor that assisted vessels to safely pass, enter or leave our national waters and ports. A crucial part of the job was establishing trust with the crew of a vessel to ensure good cooperation and gain from their insights on the characteristics including limitations of each vessel. To best achieve that it was necessary to go beyond the job description.
Job content aside it meant that doing 4,000+ pilotages gave the opportunity to talk to as many crews. With a straight forward and no BS approach this was a source of valuable insights that no consultant would ever get from interviewing.
Overall people were discontent and felt they were neither being heard nor trusted. Companies were continuously implementing changes adding to the administrative burden, stretching safety rules due to savings and failing big time to listen to people when raising issues.
Again, and again the same story retold: Companies not listening to the real reason why operations are not run safe and economic. Obvious to everyone having hands-on experience – but something that was not allowed to be questioned. Oh, was this recognizable…
In May 2017 CEO of recruiting group Faststream Mark Charman said: “We surveyed over 1,000 seafarers from 26 different nationalities to find out what seafarers really thought about their career…66% are planning to change employers within the next 3 years…” Charman continued: “If the industry is going to change then the driving force behind this must be the seafarers. They will be the biggest disruptors.””
Moreover, many of these companies will not be able to optimize their operation, safety or even foster ideas that will lead to alternative ways of doing business. Although most companies spend around 50% of their budget on salaries one is left to wonder why there is no focus on using the brain and heart capacity of ALL the employees.
By leveraging collaboration, communication and trust companies will not only create leaner and more agile organisations it’s also beneficial for retaining and attracting both employees and customers.
If focus is to inspire WE leadership, one that embraces everyone in the organisation, employees will in return find the new economically, socially and environmentally needed solutions that will be necessary for every company in the future.
Stay safe and inspire WE leadership