Nostalgia or Selective Memory

Posted on May 15, 2018
by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

About a year ago, my son found himself in the hospital for an extended period. He is an active adult with two young boys, and was “bored to tears”.

I visited him one Saturday and listened to him complain that there was nothing to watch on TV. Sympathetic parent that I am, and also having been laid up for an extended period in my 20’s barked “stop your whining, at least you have Cable”!

For fellow Boomers, I can imagine you are also harkening back to when you were told by your parents “I had to walk 5 miles to school in a blizzard”.

Growing up in the 60’s was not always easy, but it was memorable. Looking back, we can now compare how some of our rights of passage while not necessarily nostalgic, are striking in their difference.

An immediate difference is the use of sunscreen. Coppertone was a luxury for many. Most of us burned, peeled, burned, and peeled again until Labor Day.

Seat belts were likely available: but usually ignored. I have the vantage point of being the oldest of 7. Once at a party I spoke to the youngest of 9 and we reminisced that on short drives in convertibles, she was positioned above the back seat while her older brothers held her legs. Today this would be reckless endangerment, back then a lot of kids, one car!

Transistor radios, were the form of non-visual news and entertainment, the functionality of which required a battery. The battery, as essential in its day as an outlet for an iPhone today.

Batteries became even more of a necessity during a power outage.
I recall as the oldest once being chartered to go in pursuit of a battery in the early stages of a hurricane. When my mother assertively pointed out the wisdom of this move, my father’s rejoinder, “you have to think long term, if he blows away it’s one less college tuition”. My mother’s response was “good luck honey”.

You can see the origin of my parental sympathy gene!

Halloween was a great time growing up. We sometimes went to the best candy provider three times without a costume change. I don’t recall my parents having to be human x-ray machines to make sure we were going to be safe gorging on our bounty.

Jimmy Kimmel would have no post Halloween “I ate your candy” segments as “our” candy hoard rarely survived until the next day.

We didn’t think of candy as “junk food”, more an annual entitlement.

I have no appreciation as to how many TV options we have now; when I was growing up we only had 3 all ending in C. For the longest time, if you had a color TV you could only watch 2 shows, Bonanza, and Disney.

The National News was only 30 minutes a night, probably the aspect of growing up I miss the most!

Well in truth, I probably miss the 1-speed bike the most today’s transport mode too confusing!

The pace of innovation is increasing, and memories are getting shorter. I vividly recall my 10-year-old grandson spying a flip phone asking, “What’s that”? I shudder to think of him being exposed to a rotary dial!

I don’t recall when growing up feeling I had it easy, just the opposite.

I do reflect now as a parent and grandparent that it certainly was different, not better nor worse, just memorable.

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Social Media – An Asset or Liability???

Posted on April 6, 2018
by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

The Below Blog Has Been Updated From The Original Published June 2016 Entitled Circles Within Circles

We have all experienced the phenomenon of being recognized by someone who knew us “back in the day”!

The interaction usually follows a sequence of “aren’t you Tim Burton”? You then gaze at the person trying to assign a name to a face that has aged 40 years.  Usually they introduce themselves, “I’m Jim Carter, and we were in High School together”!

Hopefully by then you have a memory refresh!

The other avenue for reconnection is of course social media.  These exchanges usually are someone reaches out to you to Add as a Friend, and your curiosity gets the best of you to answer the most important question of the ages, “what do they look like now”?

At 68 I like many of us are at the decision point where there is as much intellectual focus on  “where am I going, as well as where have I been, presently we should also be asking what have I/we become?

On the positive side via Social Media I had the good fortune of having lunch in Lima Peru with a couple whom I had not had a meaningful interaction with since 1967!

Let me rewind a bit, the couple and I while never close growing up although did know each other, the wife was a friend of friends, and the husband and I grew up on the same street, later becoming a Doctor so as you can correctly surmise I was already intimidated.

Their career’s intersected with my family.  The wife and my son and daughter in law were teachers at the same school.  The husband after medical school later became my mother’s doctor.

We all have stories similar to the above, and I am reasonably certain we all conclude that these kismet moments are special, and frankly for that we can thank Social Media.

In this instance Social Media was an asset, as I was heading to have lunch with this couple, I was contemplating the likelihood of the following:

  1. Three people of the same age
  2. Each grew up in the same city
  3. Two of whom married
  4. Each taking a different career path
  5. Each career path intersecting with familial relationships
  6. Meeting for lunch 49 years after High School graduation
  7. Having lunch in Lima Peru where one semi-resides and two were visiting

Have no idea how to assess the likely % speculate they would be quite high!

However presently I have migrated towards the conclusion that Social Media is now more of a liability.

The platforms have gone beyond keeping one informed of the status of their friends, or interesting things to do, becoming mechanisms that at best heavily involved in espousing a point of view, and worse weaponized to instill fear and/or influence judgment.

In the recent past five episodes influenced my perception.

  1. Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook information to influence the 2016 election.  The fact that this group could get access and frankly steal the information of 50 Million people is an obscenity
  2. Ted Nugent hitting the airwaves referring to the Parkland students at “liars”.  How dare you!!!!! I am not sure performing Cat Scratch Fever is at the same level as hiding in a closet in fear of your life.  Sometimes the First Amendment is a pain!
  3. The clearly NRA subsidized ad’s on Social Media that portray School Shootings as an aberration…maybe one but not 19 in 90 days!
  4. The commentary by a Newscaster on the college acceptance rate of a survivor of Parkland.  Having only gotten into college due to family connections, later to flunk out of not one but 2 schools!  I’ll bet on the kid’s moral compass over the critical “adult”! (For those in a rush to Google or LinkedIn, I did graduate and competed two Master’s degree’s)
  5. The Firing By Tweet, regardless of the esteem in which you hold the dismissed common decency would suggest an alternative approach.  I recall the 1983 movie The Survivors where a Parrot fired Robin Williams! Please draw your own conclusions as to how you would prefer to find out your services are no longer needed.

As I can’t rely on Social Media not to share my information without knowledge nor approval, or put a Ted Nugent interview between information about my grandchildren, I have to conclude like many, it is now a liability the medium of which I want no part.

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Transitions – Edgy & Absent!

Posted on February 6, 2018
by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

2018 is a transition year for many Boomer Executives whom will be reaching the milestone age of 65!

Granted the “70’s something” Stones, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney are still touring and Clint Eastwood at 87 has a movie coming out.  Regardless the magical age of 65 remains a threshold, 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 meaning nor life left based upon actuarial tables and cultural norms.

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

Since that time we have worked with now over 500 executives in a variety of sectors on creating the “soft landing” for the company derived from and organized Succession Plan and executive via a structured approach for thinking about “what’s next”.

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 working hypothesis of Inflection Point we utilize in our discussions with clients.

There are two areas we suggest be front of mind as the journey begins!

Pre-Departure Dislocation
DPC has found that many executives feel “awkward”, or “uncomfortable” when visibly continuing with their employer when their Successor has been identified and on-boarded.

This discomfort is exacerbated by the fact that the executive is likely more focused on life’s next chapter.  DPCrefers to this feeling of disequilibrium as “Elvis has left the building” emotion.

In these circumstances we suggest a modality we refer to as the 3 D’s Framework as presented below:

  • Disappearance- significantly reduced visibility on-site unless required (counterintuitive when one is still employed although this approach has merit)
  • Directive- it is hard to abruptly avoid behaving like “the boss”.  DPC strongly suggests that a “have you considered vs. you should” approach as preferable when interacting with Successor or key incumbents
  • Distance- in support of your Succession plan it is preferable to avoid being “the Wizard behind the curtain” and maintaining a respectful distance both logistical and relationship wise during the bridge tenure, with clear boundaries worked out in advance with your Successor

Post Transition Common Denominators
Regardless of age, enterprise tenure, or post departure endeavors, DPC in our client work has found that there are three common denominators that if front of mind, contribute to  success.

We have labeled the “top 3” as Next Generation Engagement  as follows:

  1. Edgy- the ability to engage in activities that challenge intellectual curiosity via continued acquisition of knowledge and adjunct expertise
  2. Control- the ability to have as much as possible total control over calendar and focus of activities
  3. Relevance- the ability to continue to promote personal brand and be recognized as a domain “expert” regardless of future setting

Many executives “can’t wait” to get started on the next phase of life while others are somewhat fearful.

The position taken in our client work is that the more organized the pre-departure thinking, and awareness of possible outcomes the more likely the executive will be comfortable with “what’s next”!

 

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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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