Develop As If Your Enterprise Survival Was At Risk!

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

On behalf of my colleagues at Discussion Partner Collaborative and our Alliance Companies, we want to wish you and your families a terrific holiday season and a sensational 2018!

 Below is an update to a Blog we posted in August of this year on the topic of “building the leadership bench”.

One of my nieces whom is the Executive Director of a Community Market in the Mid-West has a signature on her enterprise logo “Eat as if your life depended on it”.   The logic of this assertion is overt and inescapable.

Borrowing unabashedly from her insight, DPC based upon our research, and that of others would stipulate the same logic applies to all organizations in respect to Leadership Development.

The emerging trend on the forcefulness of “Building The Bench” has only intensified since the creation of our original recommendations.

The most recent edition of The Harvard Business Review (November-December 2017) highlighted the fact that strategic positioning of Leadership Effectiveness programs is deteriorating based upon a study conducted by The Corporate Executive Board.

  • 34% of companies surveyed have no High Potential program relying upon enterprise wide training supported primarily by behavior modification coaching
  • For the balance (66%) only 24% deemed their HiPo programs to be a success
  • Only 13% (down from 17% in 2015) of the surveyed executives have confidence in the emerging population of future leaders
  • At present 30% of the largest global companies are compelled to fill CEO positions from the outside

 The HBR article Turning Potential To Success reinforced via an Egon Zehnder study an element of the discourse surrounding enterprise success.  Specifically the foundational threshold for success in any transformative effort is “finding the right motivation”; by critical constituency without presuming it is economic driver.

The study reinforces 4 additional proficiencies that are underrepresented in Leadership Effectiveness efforts.

  • Curiosity- insatiable desire to understand/appreciate contributing factors to the status quo and avenues for improvement
  • Insight- channeled moments of inspiration in context of reality orientation
  • Engagement- non-distracted alignment with enterprise, mission, associates, and customer interests
  • Determination- appreciation of and ownership to execute against targets and accountabilities

As we approach the end of 2017, the criticality of this strategic intent will only increase.

DPC would suggest as a not so gentle reminder, that attentiveness to this matter is a priority.                                               

Blog-The Priority of Building The Bench (August 2017)

 It’s hard to believe that 2017 is more than halfway over! Given the geo-political dynamics before us, we can expect that, for better or for worse, the rest of the year will be just as turbulent as the first half.

It’s been a roller coaster, and unfortunately there’s not much the average though engaged executive can do but exert influence where one can.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of lacking control that has made succession planning—the continuity and transitional aspects of this effort in particular— such a hot topic these days. After all, it’s human nature to want to contain the uncertainties in life while maximizing the opportunities—as contradictory as that may seem!

Urgency” would be a fair characterization of the feeling our clients have expressed towards the holistic succession planning process recently, and in response to that, today we’re sharing a slightly revised version of a blog we posted in January. We have made updates to reflect the latest data from DPC Research and client experience. The data continues to support our original thesis that, your organization’s future will benefit from a deep-dive review of its Succession and Continuity planning processes!

Notwithstanding pre-existing protocols, we are suggesting this review encompass the most generous interpretation of processes concomitant with experimental and disruptive solution sets.

Our recommendation is driven by results of a recent study DPC conducted with as of June over 2000 C-Suite participants.  The survey was on the topic of envisioned enterprise challenges. 94% of those surveyed indicated “the ability to attract, motivate, and retain top talent” as their #1 concern in January and now 95%!

Discussion Partner’s has been conducting this ongoing Pulse survey since our founding in 2007.  The intensity of the above concern while always “on the list” was never #1.  In addition the rationales expressed in the anecdotal justifications were compelling inclusive of envisioned shifting demographics, new worker expectations, disruption of organization models, competitive pressures, globalization, and ineffective human capital practices.

Our recommendation is further reinforced by a review of the recent literature on this topic.

  1. The strategic imperative for Talent depth to be an asset vs. liability referenced in consolidated research on Leadership Succession/Continuity most recently 2016 and 2017 series of articles in HBR, McKinsey Insights and Sloan Management Review
  2. The Point of View that has emerged from our Advisory work that 2017 represents an opportunity to use a “Disruptive Organization Model” for Talent processes overall and Leadership matters in particular

As further justification for this Recommendation the following foundation is provided.

  • Noel Tichy in his recent book Succession asserts that without proactive planning on how to fill, and inventory of talent well in advance of leadership, and/or key role “vacancies”, the chance of success is below 50% for replacement personnel
  • Ram Charan in his book The Attackers Advantage and December 2016 HBR articles offers the following (paraphrased) –Leaders (Directors, Owners, CEO’s) who excel at selection are willing to expand the lens in how they look at the capabilities of reporting levels beyond performance track record to the 2 to 3 interwoven predictive behaviors that will be necessary for success
  • The following compelling data points are from various sources (Booz Allen, McKinsey, Hedrick & Struggles, Korn Ferry and Saratoga Institute)
    • Team Building and Empathy are as important as Performance for promoting enterprise success (often stated infrequently realized)
    • 55% of the Fortune 500 Boards of Directors have expressed dissatisfaction with the Succession Planning processes of their enterprises including the CEO replacement approach
    • A study of the 2500 largest companies on the planet indicate that inefficient Succession Planning on average results in $1.8B losses during transition
    • Underperformance does not incent change 45% below peer group by sector correlates to only 7% probability in change of leadership
    • 39% of the Fortune 1000 Boards indicate “no viable candidate” to replace the CEO compelling a similar % undertaking external hires which Charan stipulates as “highly unlikely to be successful”

In the context of the recent HBR assertion “Succession Planning takes years not months” DPC would recommend the following steps:

  1. Senior level stakeholder interviews focused on “beyond task proficiency” what are the essential differentiating qualities that will be needed for success
  2. Comparative Inventory of Leaders (broad based) and high potentials in relationship to these attributes
  3. Embed into developmental and hiring strategies the lessons learned from this exercise
  4. Creation of a Critical Constituency Depth Chart whereby the following is highlighted
    1. Identification of 1 ready now replacement
    2. Identification of 2 possible replacements
    3. Identification of external Search capabilities to be deployed in emergencies and/or lack of “ready now” sense of urgency
    4. Assignment of non-senior leaders a “personal growth and development task” similar to the GE “popcorn stand” to provide additional evaluative foundation

 The New England Patriots have a mantra of “do your job” five Superbowls (including the most recent heart stopper) indicates the validity of this philosophy.  However, DPC would argue in the commercial sector this would be limiting for the medium to long term for any existing organization.  Our impetus is that the above suggestions represent process steps that should be presently underway and if not, a sense of urgency should exist.  DPC would substitute the words “do the job you should have been doing all along”!

Additionally we would embed the following questions:

  1. What skills sets will we need beyond domain proficiency to have a sustainable growth oriented enterprise?
  2. How does our current population of Leaders and Future Leaders compare to these desired attributes?
  • How can we develop and/or hire sufficient numbers of people to address deficiencies in the above?
  1. What is the true nature of our Leadership bench in respect to Readiness?
  2. What is our contingency plan to be deployed if necessary?

From whatever vantage point you situate, this year will continue to be dynamic.  As a suggestion, borrowing a title from a previous book by Dr. Tichy on the topic of leadership Control Your Destiny-Or Somebody Else Will!

 

 

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Inflection Point – Tenure Without Age

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

As Baby Boomers ponder retirement there is the inevitable associated question “what do I do next”?

A CNBC segment once referred to retirement planning as the “no huddle offense”.  Essentially there is a need to accelerate not only the economic preparation for retirement: but also the determinants as to how one will spend their time.

Tammy Erickson’s multiple books on shifting demographics particularly What’s Next Generation X?, and Dr. Lynda Gratton’s recent book The 100 Year Life forcefully remind us that traditional perspectives regarding retirement and career management are outmoded.

The need to reflect and plan is now being “down-aged” (late 40’s to early 50’s) to encompass long serving incumbents whom began working with their present employers at an early age.

If you put yourself in the position of one of these incumbents a thought process encompasses the following:

  • I started with this company right out of school
  • I am 48 years old
  •  like the company they have been good to me
  • I like my role and feel I am making a contribution BUT!!!!
  • I wonder what it would be like to work somewhere else AND!!!!
  • I need to decide new before it is too late

For those of us in our 60’s 48 is young.  However I would assert that none of us felt that way when we were 48!

The inherent problems with the above reflections are a. the employee may leave a good situation, just for the sake of leaving and b. the company is at risk of a brain drain at the nexus point of identification of future leaders and sustainability.

Engagement surveys, while informative, do not drill down sufficiently beyond are “are you happy now”?  In addition those whom are struggling with this dilemma are most likely reflecting privately.

Discussion Partner’s in researching our recent book Inflection Points-Risk Readiness Failure Fearless on career decision points began to become aware this phenomenon.

DPC perceived the issue to be a serious risk to our client population whom have longer serving employees.  Consequently using the mantra of “it is better to be supportive than short-sighted” we have been piloting a Coaching interdiction with several companies whom fit the above profile.

The offering Trajectory Advisory Service focuses on asking and answering the question for those in their late 40’s with approximately 20 years enterprise tenure, “is this company and role sufficiently challenging and engaging that you want to stay”?

DPC began piloting this offering in mid 2016 and have worked with 90 clients to date.

The findings are 10-fold based upon the admittedly modest sample:

  1. 100% of those with whom we worked admitted to having given “serious thought” to making a change
  2. 100% of those with whom we worked although initially skeptical appreciated the proactivity of their company providing resources to assist in their decision making
  3. 90+% were applying loose criteria to their thought process focused more on “now” vs. “where or why”
  4. Approximately the same % felt the restraint on making an informed decision was due more to “what if I don’t like it” vs. the transition being a sensible career move
  5.  81 of the 90 clients decided to stay with their present employer
  6. The 9 clients with whom DPC worked on a “soft landing” whereby the company was able to secure a replacement in advance of separation and the departing member was supported in their search (search firms, references, time to interview etc.)
  7. For those 81 whom have chosen to remain each was provided an enterprise supported Engagement Driver as a “safety valve” to reinforce the prudence of their decision making
  8. The range of “Drivers” encompassed new role, new location, NGO participation, Commercial Board sponsorship, paid sabbatical, education, reconfigured work hours as well as some innovative solutions
  9. None of the 81 clients received additional nor special compensation for what I would invoke as the obvious reasons

The #10 Finding from the Pilot is that 65% of those with whom DPC worked indicated they would have left in large part due to curiosity and feelings of intellectual stagnation.

The overarching conclusion DPC derived from this effort to date as that organizations that have the above profile are best served by being proactive, supportive, and sincere in working their incumbents or run the risk of being controlled by vs. controlling their Talent Readiness posture due to unanticipated and undesired departures.

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2017 Update Beware of Executive Coaches

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

In 2011 Discussion Partners posted a blog on our web page www.discussionpartners.com on the topic of Executive Coaching.  The impetus for the first blog was the feedback we had been receiving from our C-Suite clients on their level of satisfaction with the discipline and its value added to their enterprise.

The headline was “it depends more on the coach than the circumstance”.

The earlier blog captured the detailed sentiments expressed and was featured in our 2013 book Executive Transition-Plotting The Opportunity!, our rationale being many “transitioning” executives identified “coaching or advising” as a likely career option.

In our recently completed study of over 400 Global C-Suite executives we found that not much had changed in the 6 years since the initial posting.

The original with 2017 updates is offered for your information.

————————————————————————————————————————–

In the spirit of truth in advertising the notification of “Beware of Dog” should also apply to Executive Coaching.

The domain of Executive Coaching is growing rapidly for 2 incongruent reasons.  Foremost it has been well researched and documented that the use of external coaches is the most impactful leadership development vehicle.  Secondly, with the displacement of so many executives, during the global recession concomitant to the retirement of “Boomer executives” there has been a proliferation of those who now carry the business card of Executive Coach.

The more cynical of us remember the late 90’s when a transitioning executive was going to “start a dot.com”, that aspiration has now been supplanted by well intentioned; but unprepared advisors whom are now “Coaches”.

This is of concern as it is doubtful one would feel comfortable being represented by a Lawyer who hadn’t been to law school, or treated by a Doctor who didn’t attend Medical school…essentially the base line criteria, so what about Coaches?

The above is further complicated by the “industry” lacking any regulatory oversight.

So why do client sponsors feel more sanguine

when someone whose experience as a Coach is primarily self-nominated is advising them or their managers?

This dilemma prompted Discussion Partners to conduct a number of Pulse Survey’s.  The first was in 2011, repeated in 2013 and updated this month.  The 2017 edition encompassed over 400 C-Suite incumbents.

In all three surveys DPC reformatted the standard question, “to be an effective leader, what skills do you need to possess”, alternatively asking “to be impactful what are the top 5 critical skills needed by an Executive Coach”?

Top 5 Responses

  • Strong Business Fundamentals – There is a need to be clear.  Many coaches focus on advising on strategy and operations as well there are those who focus on leadership effectiveness.  The response had more to do with the third area in that even when advising on the quality of a leadership bench, or correcting some less then attractive behaviors there is a need for the coach to know enough about business to be credible with their client.The update for 2017 is that now more than ever knowledge of global business and economics is a “must”.
  • Sensei Tendencies – The ability of the coach to weave in “war stories” or “lessons learned” from the coach’s experience.  At Discussion Partners we refer to this as Illustration Advisory an intervention whereby we can share an example.  There is of course the need to resist the temptation to pontificate, “when I was a young manager”.The 2017 Update is CEO’s are asking for an advanced “script” from the coach on how they intend to manage their “client” that moves beyond the coaches personal experience migrating towards more of an education, lessons learned, historical example, and other client experience foundations.
  • Willingness to Confront – The desire to avoid offending to preserve economic security can be taken too far in a relationship.  There can be diplomatic ways to articulate, “what the hell were you thinking”?2017 Update-CEO’s want to see more assertiveness embedded in discourse with executives.
  • Intellectual Curiosity – This attribute initially surprised those of us at DPC, and as it continues with the 2017 update, shame on us!  It is only logical that a client is entitled to expect that their advisor is staying current.  Although the John Boudreau’s, Noel Tichy’s, David Ulrich’s, Jim Collins’s and Michael Porter’s are in a class by themselves, the reputation of the coach can be enhanced if they share insights from others, and their own documented point of view.The 2017 update is CEO’s expect Coaches to have an organized fact based “point of view” preferably demonstrated through thought leadership via speeches, op-ed pieces, blogs and publications.
  • Willingness to Admit Failure – Staying in a bad marriage is counterproductive if not counterintuitive.  The same logic applies to a coaching relationship.  If it isn’t working the coach should be the initiator of the relationship separation.  Anything less is suboptimal for the client and candidly an unfair position for an enterprise sponsor.The 2017 update indicates the time horizon for tolerating non- performance and/or bad behaviors are shortening consequently the coach needs to show results early and on going.

You will note that there is a presumption of a methodology and highly attuned interactive skills!  Both are considered, and continue to be based upon the 2017 update Threshold Attributes by CEO’s.

Given the continued proliferation of those calling themselves an Executive Coach the above is offered as a point of view to assist you in what DPC refers to as QQ (Qualification/Quality) decisions and utilization.

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No Shortcuts Allowed-Bench Building #1 Priority!

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is more than halfway over! Given the geo-political dynamics before us, we can expect that, for better or for worse, the rest of the year will be just as turbulent as the first half.

It’s been a roller coaster, and unfortunately there’s not much the average though engaged executive can do but exert influence where one can.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of lacking control that has made succession planning—the continuity and transitional aspects of this effort in particular— such a hot topic these days. After all, it’s human nature to want to contain the uncertainties in life while maximizing the opportunities—as contradictory as that may seem!

Urgency” would be a fair characterization of the feeling our clients have expressed towards the holistic succession planning process recently, and in response to that, today we’re sharing a slightly revised version of a blog we posted in January. We have made updates to reflect the latest data from DPCResearch and client experience. The data continues to support our original thesis that, your organization’s future will benefit from a deep-dive review of its Succession and Continuity planning processes!

Notwithstanding pre-existing protocols, we are suggesting this review encompass the most generous interpretation of processes concomitant with experimental and disruptive solution sets.

Our recommendation is driven by results of a recent study DPC conducted with as of June over 2000 C-Suite participants.  The survey was on the topic of envisioned enterprise challenges. 94% of those surveyed indicated “the ability to attract, motivate, and retain top talent” as their #1 concern in January and now 95%!

Discussion Partner’s has been conducting this ongoing Pulse survey since our founding in 2007.  The intensity of the above concern while always “on the list” was never #1.  In addition the rationales expressed in the anecdotal justifications were compelling inclusive of envisioned shifting demographics, new worker expectations, disruption of organization models, competitive pressures, globalization, and ineffective human capital practices.

Our recommendation is further reinforced by a review of the recent literature on this topic.

  1. The strategic imperative for Talent depth to be an asset vs. liability referenced in consolidated research on Leadership Succession/Continuity most recently 2016 and 2017 series of articles in HBR, McKinsey Insights and Sloan Management Review
  2. The Point of View that has emerged from our Advisory work that 2017 represents an opportunity to use a “Disruptive Organization Model” for Talent processes overall and Leadership matters in particular

As further justification for this Recommendation the following foundation is provided.

  • Dr. Noel Tichy in his recent book Succession asserts that without proactive planning on how to fill, and inventory of talent well in advance of leadership, and/or key role “vacancies”, the chance of success is below 50% for replacement personnel
  • Ram Charan in his book The Attackers Advantage and December 2016 HBR articles offers the following (paraphrased) –Leaders (Directors, Owners, CEO’s) who excel at selection are willing to expand the lens in how they look at the capabilities of reporting levels beyond performance track record to the 2 to 3 interwoven predictive behaviors that will be necessary for success
  • The following compelling data points are from various sources (Booz Allen, McKinsey, Hedrick & Struggles, Korn Ferry and Saratoga Institute)
    • Team Building and Empathy are as important as Performance for promoting enterprise success (often stated infrequently realized)
    • 55% of the Fortune 500 Boards of Directors have expressed dissatisfaction with the Succession Planning processes of their enterprises including the CEO replacement approach
    • A study of the 2500 largest companies on the planet indicate that inefficient Succession Planning on average results in $1.8B losses during transition
    • Underperformance does not incent change 45% below peer group by sector correlates to only 5.7% probability in change of leadership
    • 39% of the Fortune 1000 Boards indicate “no viable candidate” to replace the CEO compelling a similar % undertaking external hires which Charan stipulates as “highly unlikely to be successful”

In the context of the recent HBR assertion “Succession Planning takes years not months” DPC would recommend the following steps:

    1. Senior level stakeholder interviews focused on “beyond task proficiency” what are the essential differentiating qualities that will be needed for success
    2. Comparative Inventory of Leaders (broad based) and high potentials in relationship to these attributes
    3. Embed into developmental and hiring strategies the lessons learned from this exercise
    4. Creation of a Critical Constituency Depth Chart whereby the following is highlighted

a. Identification of 1 ready now replacement
b. Identification of 2 possible replacements
c. Identification of external Search capabilities to be deployed in
emergencies and/or lack of “ready now” sense of urgency
d. Assignment of non-senior leaders a “personal growth and
development task” similar to the GE “popcorn stand” to provide
additional evaluative foundation

The New England Patriots have a mantra of “do your job” five Superbowls (including the most recent heart stopper) indicates the validity of this philosophy.  However, DPC would argue in the commercial sector this would be limiting for the medium to long term for any existing organization.  Our impetus is that the above suggestions represent process steps that should be presently underway and if not, a sense of urgencyshould exist.  DPC would substitute the words “do the job you should have been doing all along”!

Additionally we would embed the following questions:

I.      What skills sets will we need beyond domain proficiency to have a sustainable growth
oriented enterprise?
II.     How does our current population of Leaders and Future Leaders compare to these
desired attributes?
III.    How can we develop and/or hire sufficient numbers of people to address deficiencies
in the above?
IV.    What is the true nature of our Leadership bench in respect to Readiness?
V.     What is our contingency plan to be deployed if necessary?

From whatever vantage point you situate, this year will continue to be dynamic.  As a suggestion, borrowing a title from a previous book by Dr. Tichy on the topic of leadership Control Your Destiny-Or Somebody Else Will!

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Discussion Partner Research and Client Experience on Executive Transitions

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

2017 is a transition year for many Boomer Executives whom will be reaching the milestone age of 65!

Granted Charley Watts of the Stones and Ringo Starr are 75 and still touring and Mick Jagger is about to become a father again! Yet there is something magical about 65 as it was the age when most of our parents left the work force.

At the time however, after they got their gold watch, took a cruise, there was not much life left based upon actuarial tables and cultural norms.

Discussion Partner’s launched a Transition Advisory Service offering in 2013 after the publication of our book Executive Transitions-Plotting The Opportunity!

Since that time we have worked with several hundred executives in a variety of sectors.

We have organized our Transition Advisory support to executives in four phases.

Phase 1-Preserving The Legacy-succinctly put taking proactive steps to insure that the efforts you undertook, and the success you engendered are recalled in the most positive terms.

In Discussion Partner’s experience regardless of age and psychographic profile it is prudent to substitute the question of “How will I focus my energies for the next 3 to 5 years” vs. “What will I do with the rest of my life”.  This is the principle of Inflection Point we utilize in our discussions with executives whom have an extensive work history often with one to two employers.

Transition Principles
The below represents a baseline from which we develop tactics for executives whom are departing from a “continuing concern”.

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Control the Communication Process-avoid relying only on the formal elements of communication.  There is a need to augment this effort with an informal communication process to personalize, and engage in conversations with selected managers

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Confirm the Legacy-there is a need to define “how I want to be remembered”, with “how I am perceived”.  The most effective way to do this is to have a dialogue with trusted advisors where you point blank ask the question, “what will you remember about me”

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Networking-Classify your internal and external networks capturing the contact information for managers whom would provide insight/access for you in the future, what we refer to as the “Nifty 50”. This is the minimum! There is a need to commit to interact with these folks at least on a quarterly basis, recognizing that the interactions will be sustainable provided the dialogue has mutual value.

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Relationship Sustainability-The first order of business is to prepare and send subsequent to the formal announcement an e-mail to at least these 50 executives internal and external embedded with a. preliminary thoughts as to career focus, and b. contact information

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Accessibility– independent of the networking activity above there is a need to utilize multiple vehicles e-mails, social media, and the lost art of letter writing to maintain contact with a broader number of executives

Phase 2-Ensuring Enterprise Continuity – making sure that care and thought are given to the preservation of momentum as manifested in the Succession Plan….through constructive access, advice, and prescriptive documentation.

Interim Period Issues-Post Successor Selection
Be mindful there is oftentimes a “rock in the middle of the river” attitude to be avoided in a post announcement environment.  Be advised we usually find it well intentioned and focused on the executives “best interests” so as to “not bother them”.

Still however it is difficult to be working in an environment that seems to have forgotten one has a pulse.

We use the sequence of John Wayne to reinforce the point in terms of reinforcement of a visible career.

Career Segment  Description

Early On    

Who IS John Wayne

Traction    

Get me John Wayne

Popular    

I need more John Wayne’s

Waning    

Get me someone who was like John Wayne

Exit    

Who WAS John Wayne
  1. The key here is two-fold:
    Don’t take it personal….it is the normal cycle
  2. Consider acceleration of your departure from the office in favor of working remotely at some point….

Regardless of timing there is a “Snagglepuss” phenomenon, the appropriate time to “exit stage left”!  The time frame is accompanied with the likely outcome of SARA even though it is your decision.

• Shock
• Anger
• Rejection
• Acceptance

There WILL be a feeling of emotional disorientation associated with departure.  It is most advisable to recognize that Retirement is a platform to other areas of personal and creative expression.

Playbook
I can presume the suggestion of this exercise may seem odd; however our experience is that it is very useful when a Successor may not be up to the task immediately.  It is also non-trivial in reaffirmation of legacy.

The value of having a brief treatise on your experience with a limited distribution is it a) helps others see “your role through your eyes” and b) it reduces “blowback” in that after you leave, it reduces the possibility that you would be blamed for others mistakes.

Our concept is a 1 to 2-page memorandum that focuses on the following:
• The initiatives you feel were executed well
• Those that are in process and/or you feel were deficient
• Two to 3 top of mind suggestions for securing progress in your previous role

Phase 3-Rejuvination Break-taking a break to recharge and reflect on next steps in career trajectory.   DPC perceives as inevitable regardless of means, age etc. as those whom are Type A don’t change their DNA.

The Concept of the Commercial Sabbatical
The foundation for the “Commercial Sabbatical” concept we promote derives from our research and client experience. Based upon Executive Demographics and Aspirations, it is embedded into our hypothesis that successful executives after a period of rest, are desirous to reengage in commercial activates

  1. Older Executives (65 plus)-focus on 2 to 3 activities part time post-employment
  2. Bridge Executives (55 to 65)-focus on 2 to 3 activities part time post-employment for a period of approximately 2 years then return to “work” in an Advisory and/or Employee capacity at a level of at approximately 50% of the time until age 65 or older
  3. Off-Ramp/On-Ramp Executives- (55 and below) If not focused on replication of a full time setting immediately the executive focuses on 2 to 3 activities for a period of approximately 1 year and then return to work as Advisors and/or Employees until age 65 at a level in excess of 50%

Phase 4-Cyclical Planning– conceptualization, deliberation, and implementation of the plan developed prior to departure and refined subsequent to departure.

Transitioning Executive Research
The below represents our current thinking on the question. “Where are Executives likely to spend their time post-employment”?  Our assumptions are derived from a research project of over 2,000 executives and our Transition Advisory work with clients

DPC Theoretical Framework-Creation of a scenario strategy for 3 to 5 years embedding the context of Commercial Sabbatical.

Discussion Partner Transition Focus Assumptions if not full time alternative, 2 to 3 Part-Time endeavors:

•       New Role/Alternative Employer
•       Consulting Advisory
•       Academic Pursuit as Adjunct Professor
•       Author/Blogger
•       Personal Investor
•       Commercial Board Membership
•       Political Involvement
•       Philanthropy
•       Social Responsibility (including NGO Boards)
•       Higher Education-Student
•       Arts
•       Entrepreneur-non Commercial
•       Start Up Initiator
•       Sports-Recreational
•       Other-Rock Star?

Board Memberships
As this is likely an area of “pursuit” we wanted to provide some additional detail.  DPC has a matrix approach for thinking of Board positions.  Our mental model is that the maximum be three Boards to avoid becoming a “professional” member.  Essentially, if you are on more than three, you are working close to full time.

Board   Primary Role      
1  Chairperson
2  Committee Chair
3  Key Committee Participation

As you can see from the above 3 Boards could be very time consuming.

Tammy Ericson, Ken Dychtwald and Bob Morrison in their seminal HBR article It’s Time To Retire Retirement asserted in an elegant way that Retirement is not a phase down from relevance.  Moreover it is a platform for one to pursue alternative interests and avenues for personal satisfaction.

Discussion Partner’s research and advisory interdictions would reinforce their hypothesis.  Moreover, given the stabilization of the economy and emerging career opportunities, it is optimum to be mindful of how to channel personal and enterprise Executive energies.

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Venezuela…When Does Regret Compel Action?

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

The May 1st morning BBC segment on the tribulations in Venezuela was extremely disheartening.

Having worked and lived in Venezuela as an expatriate I have never encountered a smarter more family dedicated and cause committed citizenry.

The street protests have cost 28 people(as of this date)  their lives, and the present run rate for inflation is 2000%.

The recent interaction between the Venezuelan government and the Organization of American States does not offer hope and in fact contributes to the problem.

Given the US media preoccupation on terrorism, Brexit, the French election and what will the President say next and after stated mean, there has been minimal media awareness paid to the Venezuelan situation.

While there appears to be no imminent solution to their problems the status quo is untenable.

One element that comes to mind when the above is considered is the nature of regrets.

The most appropriate question governments, influencers, and people can ask at times like this is “should I do more, and if so what”?

When conducting the interviews contained in our most recent book, Executive Advice To The Young-Don’t Repeat My Mistakes! the most compelling lesson learned by the authors was that regrets are insidious.  They color self-respect, and if not translated into lessons learned, with a bias for constructive action, mistakes can possibly be repeated.

It is difficult to listen to the BBC about the travails in Venezuela having been associated with the society and it’s people.  While thoughts and prayers have their place, the question before me, to avoid regret, what else can I do?

Doing nothing for me is no longer an option, and I have some modest thoughts as to next steps leveraging relationships I am fortunate enough to enjoy.

So, the point is, I don’t choose to ignore any longer the situation and let it evolve.

We all have our points of view on things that need to be changed.  Whatever they are, and however you respond, it best to think proactively to avoid the regrets similar to those we interviewed for our book, and the ones I experienced May 1st, as they will never go away.

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Inflection Point-Yogi Meets The 5th Dimension

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

One of the famous utterances of Yogi Berra was “when you come to the fork in the road take it”.

Although somewhat mystifying the wisdom is emerging as relevant in our client work with C-Suite Executives promoted from within, as they achieve their 3rd year anniversary.

During a review of the performance trajectory of Discussion Partner clients, we realized that there is an inherent Inflection Point associated with this milestone anniversary.

17 of our current C-Suite clients fit the following profile:

  • Tenure with existing companies at least 5 years prior to promotion.
  • Member of Executive Committee where they enjoyed peer level collaborative endeavors.
  • Primarily (although not exclusively) elevation to leadership position based upon strategic circumstances vs. pre-planned continuity progression

To assist in gaining maximum insights DPC created the model we refer to as The Fifth Dimension (not to be confused with the Age of Aquarius Music Group).

Post Appointment Outcomes

Determined- during the three year period the executive has met or exceeded economic, quantitative, and qualitative metrics

Driven-the enjoyed success in addition to contributing to self-confidence has fostered an achievement oriented mind-set

Tenure Driven Influencers

Distraction– during this period the executive has eliminated or mitigated the distractions or ambivalence associated with managing a cadre of former colleagues in favor of commercial focus

Distance– during the time-frame, the common refrain from direct reports is “he/she has changed”, or “they don’t interact as before” while inherently true, it is usually articulated as a criticism

Directive– the pace of decision-making and execution only accelerates as the executive gains self-confidence to the chagrin of former colleagues whom feel if not left out, that “they are deciding in a vacuum”

Conclusion

Relationships do change, they are not the same for a confluence of reasons the most unlikely being the promoted executive has become an egomaniac.

Also an unlikely outcome is that the level of collegiality with those whom were peers will return.

Inflection Point

During the initial period of leadership, the executive’s style is evolving somewhat in a trial and error progression.

DPC’s suggestion is independent of the gray areas of discomfort, Distraction, Distance, and Directive it is best to avoid the 6th Dimension-Distortion avoid second guessing oneself and as the New England Patriot’s have recently reinforced good things happen when you “just do your job”!

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