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7 people issues that will ruin your digital transformation

It’s hardly new news – but digital disruption is now top-of-mind in practically ever sector.

You probably have your own favourite stats on this issue. Here are mine. 63% of industrial players and 81% of tech companies are experiencing significant disruption, or are expecting it within 12 months. (Source: Russell Reynolds Associates).

Digital disruption poses an existential threat to many incumbent players, who need to:

  • Reimagine the business model;
  • Implement new technology platforms & business processes;
  • Promote more innovative and entrepreneurial activity and experimentation;
  • Integrate data analytics, machine learning and AI into the business;
  • Accelerate the overall pace of change; notably by moving from top-down management to agile, cross-functional, collaboration

As an organisation moves forward with its digital transformation project, one key topic can easily get overlooked amongst all the discussions on strategy, technology and business processes.

People.

Because at the heart of digital transformation is a leadership and people question: How will our people live this digital transformation – and how can we instill the necessary values, mindset and practices?

I spend a lot of time helping businesses work through the people, cultural and leadership issues that hold back digital transformation. Here are 7 people issues that companies who are serious about genuine digital transformation will need to navigate. >> Read more…

60 personal effectiveness tips from world-class experts [UPDATED]

Effectiveness is more than productivity.  Whereas productivity is 'doing things right', effectiveness also includes 'doing the right things' and can be seen as a chain that links your daily activities to your deepest needs, desires and hopes for the future.

So if you want to live a successful, accomplished life, tuning up your personal effectiveness is one of the wisest investments you can make.

So for this important topic, I reached out to 60+ very accomplished experts in a number of fields, including CEOs, leadership experts, productivity gurus and ministry leaders.  I asked them the following question:

What is the most surprising tip you’d give somebody looking to grow their personal impact & effectiveness?

I recently updated this post with some additional insights and updates. I hope you'll agree that the result is one of the best collections of personal effectiveness tips.  This is real practical wisdom for achieving great things in your work and life.

Download now, digest later...

RECOMMENDATION: This is a long post, so I suggest you grab the free PDF version which also includes a one-page summary that you can refer to regularly keep you on track!

>> Read more...

The owner’s dilemma: why your laser focus on products & customers is killing your business

Remember Clayton Christensen’s classic, The Innovator’s Dilemma? It was the brilliant observation of how well-managed market leaders would almost invariably fall prey to disruptive technology, and fail to capture the next wave of value.

What was startling about Christensen’s work was that the incumbent firms were well-managed and made rational decisions at each stage of the market’s development. Yet still they lost.

Today I want to explore what could be called The Owner’s Dilemma.

I’m going to explain why the pragmatic, rational decisions you are making are undermining your business’s ability to grow.

If you are a founder, a small business leader, or a business unit leader (i.e. you have ‘ownership’ of a P&L) then this will be highly relevant. >> Read more…

Why so much M&A fails to deliver

It’s well known that the proportion of M&A deals that fail to create the expected value remains alarmingly high. A survey a couple of year ago from by Aon Hewitt found that nearly 50% of companies had failed to achieve their stated value-creation objectives from the deal. So what’s going on, and what can leaders do about it?

At the heart of value-creation: the culture challenge

The Aon survey is clear that ‘deal failure’ (failure to create anticipated value) comes from a variety of drivers.  What is interesting is that factors #2, #3, #4 and #8 are solidly people factors. Indeed, mismanaged cultural integration ranks as the second leading cause of deal failure. >> Read more…

Why leadership development doesn’t work

Most leadership development is a dead-end

Put it another way, it promises a lot but generally doesn’t result in lasting organisational impact.

Why is this?

Well, let’s take a typical scenario.  Does this sound familiar?

Bob comes back from a two-day leadership training offsite with 40 other  VPs from his company.  He’s found the program engaging and interesting and is motivated to put some of the management concepts into practice.  He walks in to the office with a shiny new binder of material under his arm.

His team groan.  Not only are they slightly resentful that their manager has been on another ‘jolly’ whilst they get on with the real work, but they’re now suspicious.  What new hoops is their manager going to make them jump through now?  What’s the fad of the month?

“Don’t worry,” they whisper to each other.  “Let’s just smile and keep our heads down and his enthusiasm will burn off in a couple of weeks.”

And indeed, within a couple of weeks there’s no real sign of any changed leadership behaviour.  The team keeps doing what it’s always done, how it’s always done it.

I’ve seen this scenario many times.  And to be honest, I’ve probably been in Bob’s shoes myself.  I’ve got my fair share of dusty management course binders on my own shelf.  Fair cop.

I remember the earliest time I saw this play out. It was early in my career and a senior manager came up with a team plan called “VISTA” – which his team immediately dubbed “Virtually Impossible State To Achieve”!  It was dead-on-arrival.

The more we see this play out, the more cynical and sceptical we get about whether ‘soft skills’ can really be improved and whether any of this people-development stuff can really deeply transform an organisation.  But before we write off people development, let’s have a look at why the current way of doing things just isn’t delivering.  We’ll start to see that there is a better way.

6 reasons why most leadership development doesn’t work

Let’s break apart that scenario a little and understand the six distinct factors that tend to turn leadership development into a dead-end activity. >> Read more…

The liberating leader: a manifesto

Our partner, *GiANT Worldwide*, coined the term ‘liberating leader’ to represent the kind of leader who is truly worth following. This article describes what a Liberating Leader is, why it’s so important, and what you’re ‘signing up to’ if you aspire to being a Liberating Leader.

Our (not-so) hidden agenda

Sure we can talk strategy, or value propositions, or tech-sector trends or organisational development. We love that stuff at xquadrant!

But there’s a deeper heartbeat at xquadrant. It’s to help leaders build amazing teams and organisations that accomplish great things.

In fact, we can go further. It’s to help ambitious individuals like you create a legacy of positive change and success in all circles of influence: personal, professional and community.

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    To create outstanding results - and build outstanding teams.
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    To have the satisfaction not only of ‘winning’, but of seeing the people you have influence over and responsibility for win too.
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    To have the sense of pride, as you look back, of both your results and of your investment in those around you.

You see, xquadrant was founded on the conviction that great leaders accomplish great things precisely because of their ability to create environments where people grow and perform at their best.

This is not blind faith. In his bestselling book Good To Great, Jim Collins reported that he was surprised when the data from a serious research project found a direct linkage between outstanding long-term business performance and the presence of humble and committed senior leaders.

>> Read more...

5 reasons your start-up will fail to scale

If you are looking to scale your company significantly and penetrate new markets in the coming year, you’d better beware.

Recently, as part of my leadership consulting work in tech, I’ve spoken with CEOs and COOs of several exceptional start-ups who are on exactly that journey.

Often the focus is on preparing systems and processes to scale – but there are a handful of regular organisational issues that consistently crop up to put the brakes on high-growth firms.

Here are the top five. Plan for them now and set healthy foundations in place.

1. You’ve “papered over the cracks”

Your leadership team has some exceptional talent – but also some strong personalities! So are the key leaders really aligned, communicating openly, and performing together at a high level? >> Read more…

7 Key Leadership Challenges in Tech

“The key differentiator between Tech companies that are built to last, and those that die after launch, is that leaders recognise their intrinsic duty to not just build a product but build a culture.” ~ Granny/Maxfield/McMillan

One of the interesting paradoxes of the tech industry is just how important people are to success! The fast pace, rapid change and constant innovation means that engaged, productive and empowered teams are essential to the success of any firm.

And yet, amidst the whirlwind and pressure, leaders can often be accidental rather than intentional in how they develop their organisational culture and capacity.

Here are seven specific leadership challenges I’ve commonly seen in tech firms, and a question to stimulate your own thinking on each.

1. High-performing teams as well as high-performing technology

Engineering talent is the lifeblood of tech companies, and yet technical leaders are not always naturally strong in, or particularly interested in, people management! However, engaged and empowered employees and collaborative teams are absolutely critical in an industry where responsiveness and innovation are so central.

>> The leadership question: In an ‘engineering culture’, how can I help technical leaders develop the skills and mindset to build high-performing teams? >> Read more…

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