Book: The First 90 Days

thefirst90days“The First 90 Days, Updated and Expanded: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter” by Michael D. Watkins
  • “When more than two hundred company CEOs and presidents were asked for their best estimates of the time it takes a typical midlevel leader who has been promoted or hired from the outside to reach the break-even point, the average of their responses was 6.2 months.”
  • common traps
    • “Sticking with what you know. You believe you will be successful in the new role by doing the same things you did in your previous role, only more so.”
    • “Falling prey to the “action imperative.” You feel as if you need to take action, and you try too hard, too early to put your own stamp on the organization.”
    • “Setting unrealistic expectations. You don’t negotiate your mandate or establish clear, achievable objectives.”
    • “Attempting to do too much. You rush off in all directions, launching multiple initiatives in the hope that some will pay off.”
    • “Coming in with ‘the’ answer. You come in with your mind made up, or you reach conclusions too quickly about ‘the’ problems and ‘the’ solutions.”
    • “Engaging in the wrong type of learning. You spend too much time focused on learning about the technical part of the business and not enough about the cultural and political dimensions of your new role.”
    • “Neglecting horizontal relationships. You spend too much time focused on vertical relationships—up to the boss and down to direct reports—and not enough on peers and other stakeholders.”
  • “But your objective is not only to avoid vicious cycles; you need to create virtuous cycles that help you create momentum and establish an upward spiral of increasing effectiveness”
  • “To be successful, you need to mobilize the energy of many others in your organization.”
  • the essential transition tasks
    • “Prepare yourself. This means making a mental break from your old job and preparing to take charge in the new one. Perhaps the biggest pitfall you face is assuming that what has made you successful to this point will continue to do so.”
    • “Accelerate your learning. You need to climb the learning curve as fast as you can in your new organization.”
    • “Match your strategy to the situation. Different types of situations require you to make significant adjustments in how you plan for and execute your transition.”
    • “Secure early wins. Early wins build your credibility and create momentum. They create virtuous cycles that leverage the energy you put into the organization to create a pervasive sense that good things are happening.”
    • “Negotiate success. Because no other single relationship is more important, you need to figure out how to build a productive working relationship with your new boss (or bosses) and manage her expectations.”
    • “Achieve alignment. The higher you rise in an organization, the more you must play the role of organizational architect.”
    • “Build your team. If you are inheriting a team, you need to evaluate, align, and mobilize its members. You likely also need to restructure it to better meet the demands of the situation.”
    • “Create coalitions. Your success depends on your ability to influence people outside your direct line of control.”
    • “Keep your balance. In the personal and professional tumult of a transition, you must work hard to maintain your equilibrium and preserve your ability to make good judgments.” “The right advice-and-counsel network is an indispensable resource.”
    • “Accelerate everyone. Finally, you need to help all those in your organization—direct reports, bosses, and peers—accelerate their own transitions.”
  • “When you get promoted, however, what you delegate usually needs to change. If you’re leading an organization of five people, it may make sense to delegate specific tasks such as drafting a piece of marketing material or selling to a particular customer. In an organization of fifty people, your focus may shift from tasks to projects and processes. At five hundred people, you often need to delegate responsibility for specific products or platforms. And at five thousand people, your direct reports may be responsible for entire businesses.”
  • “Paradoxically, when you get promoted, positional authority often becomes less important for pushing agendas forward.”
  • “First, the issues you’re dealing with become much more complex and ambiguous when you move up a level—and your ability to identify ‘right’ answers based solely on data and analysis declines correspondingly.Decisions are shaped more by others’ expert judgments and who trusts whom, as well as by networks of mutual support.”
  • “Second, at a higher level of the organization, the other players are more capable and have stronger egos.”
  • “what “leadership presence” means in your new role: what does a leader look like at your new level in the hierarchy? How does he act? What kind of personal leadership brand do you want to have in the new role? How will you make it your own?”
  • “Leaders joining new companies often are making lateral moves: they’ve been hired to do things that they’ve been successful doing elsewhere.”
  • “Leaders from outside the company are not familiar with informal networks of information and communication.”
  • “Outside hires are not familiar with the corporate culture and therefore have greater difficulty navigating.”
  • “New people are unknown to the organization and therefore do not have the same credibility as someone who is promoted from within.”
  • “A long tradition of hiring from within makes it difficult for some organizations to accept outsiders.”
  • “Getting oriented to the business means learning about the company as a whole and not only your specific parts of the business.”
  • “identifying key stakeholders and building productive working relationships.”
  • “Often, insufficient time is devoted to lateral relationship building with peers and key constituencies outside the new leader’s immediate organization.”
  • “No matter how well you think you understand what you’re expected to do, be sure to check and recheck expectations once you formally join your new organization.”
  • “To adapt successfully, you need to understand what the culture is overall and how it’s manifested in the organization or unit you’re joining (because different units may have different subcultures).”
  • “What is culture? It’s a set of consistent patterns people follow for communicating, thinking, and acting, all grounded in their shared assumptions and values.”
  • Cultural Norms
    • “Influence. How do people get support for critical initiatives?”
    • “Execution. When it comes time to get things done, which matters more—a deep understanding of processes or knowing the right people?”
    • “Conflict. Can people talk openly about difficult issues without fear of retribution?”
    • “Recognition. Does the company promote stars, rewarding those who visibly and vocally drive business initiatives? Or does it encourage team players, rewarding those who lead authoritatively but quietly and collaboratively?”
    • “Ends versus means. Are there any restrictions on how you achieve results? Does the organization have a well-defined, well-communicated set of values that is reinforced through positive and negative incentives?”
“Onboarding checklists
Business orientation checklist
• As early as possible, get access to publicly available information about financials, products, strategy, and brands.
• Identify additional sources of information, such as websites and analyst reports.
• If appropriate for your level, ask the business to assemble a briefing book.
• If possible, schedule familiarization tours of key facilities before the formal start date.
Stakeholder connection checklist
• Ask your boss to identify and introduce you to the key people you should connect with early on.
• If possible, meet with some stakeholders before the formal start.
• Take control of your calendar, and schedule early meetings with key stakeholders.
• Be careful to focus on lateral relationships (peers, others) and not only vertical ones (boss, direct reports).
Expectations alignment checklist
• Understand and engage in business planning and performance management.
• No matter how well you think you understand what you need to do, schedule a conversation with your boss about expectations in your first week.
• Have explicit conversations about working styles with bosses and direct reports as early as possible.
Cultural adaptation checklist
• During recruiting, ask questions about the organization’s culture.
• Schedule conversations with your new boss and HR to discuss work culture, and check back with them regularly.
• Identify people inside the organization who could serve as culture interpreters.
• After thirty days, conduct an informal 360-degree check-in with your boss and peers to gauge how adaptation is proceeding.”
  • “As you move to higher levels, however, it becomes increasingly important to get good political counsel and personal advice. Political counselors help you understand the politics of the organization, an understanding that is especially important when you plan to implement change. Personal advisers help you keep perspective and equilibrium in times of stress.”
  • “Planning to learn means figuring out in advance what the important questions are and how you can best answer them. Few new leaders take the time to think systematically about their learning priorities.”
  • “Effective leaders strike the right balance between doing (making things happen) and being (observing and reflecting).”
  • “simply displaying a genuine desire to learn and understand translates into increased credibility and influence.”
  • “Leaders who are onboarding into new organizations must therefore focus on learning and adapting to the new culture. Otherwise they risk suffering the organizational equivalent of organ rejection syndrome (with the new leaders being the organs). They do things that trigger the organization’s immune system and find themselves under attack as a foreign body.”
Questions about the past
  • “How has this organization performed in the past? How do people in the organization think it has performed?”
  • “How were goals set? Were they insufficiently or overly ambitious? “
  • “Wereinternal or external benchmarks used? “
  • “Whatmeasures were employed? What behaviorsdid they encourage and discourage?”
  • “Whathappened if goals were not met?”
  • “If performance has been good, why has that been the case?”
  • “Whathave been the relative contributions of strategy, structure, systems, talent bases, culture, and politics?”
  • “Ifperformance has been poor, why has that been the case? Do the primary issues reside in the organization’s strategy? Its structure? Its technical capabilities? Its culture? Its politics?”
  • “What efforts have been made to change the organization? What happened?”
  • “Whohas been instrumental in shaping this organization?”
Questions about the present
  • “What is the stated vision and strategy?”
  • “Isthe organization really pursuing that strategy? If not, why not? If so, will the strategy take the organization where it needs to go?”
  • “Who is capable, and who is not?”
  • “Whois trustworthy, and who is not?”
  • “Who has influence, and why?”
  • “What are the key processes?”
  • “Are they performing acceptably in quality, reliability, and timeliness? If not, why not?”
  • “What lurking surprises could detonate and push you offtrack?”
  • “What potentially damaging cultural or political missteps must you avoid?”
  • “In what areas (people, relationships, processes, or products) can you achieve some early wins?”
Questions about the future
  • “In what areas is the organization most likely to face stiff challenges in the coming year? What can be done now to prepare for them?”
  • “What are the most promising unexploited opportunities? What would need to happen to realize their potential?”
  • “What are the most formidable barriers to making needed changes? Are they technical? Cultural? Political?”
  • “Are there islands of excellence or other high-quality resources that you can leverage?”
  • “What new capabilities need to be developed or acquired?”
  • “Which elements of the culture should be preserved?”
  • “Which elements need to change?”
  • “In the political domain, you must understand the shadow organization—the informal set of processes and alliances that exist in the shadow of the formal structure and strongly influence how work actually gets done.”
  • “But to make effective decisions, you also need ‘soft’ information about the organization’s strategy, technical capabilities, culture, and politics. The only way to gain this intelligence is to talk to people who have critical knowledge about your situation.”
  • “if possible, to reach out to current or former employees to get a bead on the history and culture.”
  • “One approach is to keep to the same script in all your meetings. You might start with brief opening remarks about yourself and your approach, followed by questions about the other person (background, family, and interests) and then a standard set of questions about the business. This approach is powerful, because the responses you get are comparable. You can line them up side by side and analyze what is consistent and inconsistent about the responses. This comparison helps you gain insight into which people are being more or less open.”
  • “What are the biggest challenges the organization is facing (or will face in the near future)?”
  • “Why is the organization facing (or going to face) these challenges?”
  • “What are the most promising unexploited opportunities for growth?”
  • “What would need to happen for the organization to exploit the potential of these opportunities?”
  • “If you were me, what would you focus attention on?”
  • “Another example of a structured learning method is the use of a framework such as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to guide your diagnostic work.”
  • Before first day
    • ”Find out whatever you can about the organization’s strategy, structure, performance, and people.”
    • “Find external observers who know the organization well, including former employees, recent retirees, and people who have transacted business with the organization. Ask these people open-ended questions about history, politics, and culture. Talk with your predecessor if possible.”
    • “Compile an initial set of questions to guide your structured inquiry after you arrive.”
  • Right after first day
    • “Meet one-on-one with your direct reports and ask them the questions you compiled. You will learn about convergent and divergent views and about your reports as people.”
    • ”Test strategic alignment from the top down. Ask people at the top what the company’s vision and strategy are. Then see how far down into the organizational hierarchy those beliefs penetrate. You will learn how well the previous leader drove vision and strategy down through the organization.”
    • “Test awareness of challenges and opportunities from the bottom up. Start by asking frontline people how they view the company’s challenges and opportunities. Then work your way up. You will learn how well the people at the top check the pulse of the organization.”
  • By end of the first month
    • “Gather your team to feed back to them your preliminary findings. You will elicit confirmation and challenges of your assessments and will learn more about the group and its dynamics.”
    • “Analyze a couple of key processes. Convene representatives of the responsible groups to map out and evaluate the processes you selected. You will learn about productivity, quality, and reliability.”
    • “Meet with key integrators. You will learn how things work at interfaces among functional areas. What problems do they perceive that others do not? Seek out the natural historians. They can fill you in on the history, culture, and politics of the organization, and they are also potential allies and influencers.”
  • “STARS is an acronym for five common business situations leaders may find themselves moving into: start-up, turnaround, accelerated growth, realignment, and sustaining success.”
  • “In a start-up, you are charged with assembling the capabilities (people, funding, and technology) to get a new business, product, project, or relationship off the ground. This means you can shape the organization from the outset by recruiting your team, playing a major role in defining the agenda, and building the architecture of the business.”
  • “In a turnaround, you take on a unit or group that is recognized to be in deep trouble and work to get it back on track. A turnaround is the classic burning platform, demanding rapid, decisive action.”
  • “Turnarounds are ready-fire-aim situations: you need to make the tough calls with less than full knowledge and then adjust as you learn more. In contrast, realignments (and sustaining-success assignments) are more ready-aim-fire situations.”
  • “Turning around a failing business requires the new leader to cut it down to a defensible core fast and then begin to build it back up.”
  • “In an accelerated-growth situation, the organization has begun to hit its stride, and the hard work of scaling up has begun. This typically means you’re putting in the structures, processes, and systems necessary to rapidly expand the business (or project, product, or relationship). You also likely need to hire and onboard a lot of people while making sure they become part of the culture that has made the organization successful thus far.”
  • “Start-ups, turnarounds, and accelerated-growth situations involve much resource-intensive construction work; there isn’t much existing infrastructure and capacity for you to build on.”
  • “In realignments and sustaining-success situations, in contrast, you enter organizations that have significant strengths but also serious constraints on what you can and cannot do.”
  • “In a realignment, your challenge is to revitalize a unit, product, process, or project that has been drifting into danger. The clouds are gathering on the horizon, but the storm has not yet broken—and many people may not even see the clouds. The biggest challenge often is to create a sense of urgency. There may be a lot of denial; the leader needs to open people’s eyes to the fact that a problem actually exists.”
  • “the key to sustaining success often lies in continuously starting up, accelerating, and realigning parts of the business.”
  • “You cannot figure out where to take a new organization if you do not understand where it has been and how it got where it is.”
  • “The experienced realignment person in a turnaround situation is at risk of moving too slowly and expending energy on cultivating consensus when it is unnecessary to do so, thus squandering precious time.”
  • “performance must be evaluated and rewarded differently in the different STARS situations. The performance of people put in charge of start-ups and turnarounds is easiest to evaluate, because you can focus on measurable outcomes relative to a clear prior baseline.”
  • “Performance in a realignment may be better than expected, but still poor. Or it may be that nothing much seems to happen, because a crisis was avoided. Sustaining-success situations pose similar problems. Success may consist of a small loss of market share in the face of a concerted attack by competitors or the eking out of a few percentage points of top-line growth in a mature business.”
  • “Negotiating success means proactively engaging with your new boss to shape the game so that you have a fighting chance of achieving desired goals.”
  • “to shape the game by negotiating with your boss to establish realistic expectations, reach consensus, and secure sufficient resources.”
  • “You should assume she wants to focus on the most important things you’re trying to do and how she can help. Don’t go in without at most three things you really need to share or on which you need action.”
  • “Pursue good marks from those whose opinions your boss respects.”
  • “The situational diagnosis conversation. In this conversation, you seek to understand how your new boss sees the STARS portfolio you have inherited. Are there elements of start-up, turnaround, accelerated growth, realignment, and sustaining success?”
  • “The expectations conversation. Your goal in this conversation is to understand and negotiate expectations. What does your new boss need you to do in the short term and in the medium term? What will constitute success? Critically, how will your performance be measured? When?”
  • “The resource conversation. This conversation is essentially a negotiation for critical resources. What do you need to be successful? What do you need your boss to do? The resources need not be limited to funding or personnel. In a realignment, for example, you may need help from your boss to persuade the organization to confront the need for change.”
  • “The style conversation. This conversation is about how you and your new boss can best interact on an ongoing basis. What forms of communication does he prefer, and for what? Face-to-face? Voice, electronic? How often? What kinds of decisions does he want to be consulted on, and when can you make the call on your own?”
  • “The personal development conversation. Once you’re a few months into your new role, you can begin to discuss how you’re doing and what your developmental priorities should be. Where are you doing well? In what areas do you need to improve or do things differently?”
  • “try to deduce what your boss is sensitive about. You can do this by understanding your boss’s personal history, by talking to others, and by paying close attention to facial expression, tone, and body language.”
  • “You may find her expectations unrealistic, or simply at odds with your own beliefs about what needs to be done. If so, you must work hard to make your views converge.”
  • “try to bias yourself somewhat toward underpromising achievements and overdelivering results.”
  • “Work at reading between the lines accurately and developing good hypotheses about what your boss is likely to want.”
  • “Above all, don’t let key issues remain ambiguous. Ambiguity about goals and expectations is dangerous.”
  • “In start-up situations, your most urgent needs are likely to be adequate financial resources, technical support, and people with the right expertise.”
  • “In turnaround situations, you need authority, backed by political support, to make the tough decisions and secure scarce financial and human resources.”
  • “In accelerated-growth situations, you need the investment necessary to support growth, as well as support for putting in place needed systems and structures.”
  • “In realignment situations, you need consistent, public backing to get the organization to confront the need for change.”
  • “In sustaining-success situations, you require financial and technical resources to sustain the core business and exploit promising new opportunities. You also need periodic pushes to set stretch goals that will keep you from drifting into complacency.”
  • “lay out the costs and benefits of different levels of resource commitment. “If you want my sales to grow seven percent next year, I need investment of X dollars. If you want ten percent growth, I will need Y dollars.” Going back for more too often is a sure way to lose credibility. If it takes more time to get a handle on the resources you need to achieve specific goals, then so be it.”
  • “The higher you rise, the more important the key soft skills of cultural and political diagnosis, negotiation, coalition building, and conflict management will become.”
  • “If you have multiple bosses, you must be sure to carefully balance perceived wins and losses among them. If one boss has substantially more power, then it makes sense to bias yourself somewhat in her direction early on, as long as you redress the balance, to the greatest extent possible, later. If you can’t get agreement by working with your bosses one-on-one, you must essentially force them to come to the table together to thrash issues out.”
  • “You should typically devote the first block of 30 days to learning and building personal credibility.”
  • “Your key outputs at the end of the first 30 days will be a diagnosis of the situation, an identification of key priorities, and a plan for how you will spend the next 30 days.”
  • “At the 60-day mark, your review meeting should focus on assessing your progress toward the goals of your plan for the previous 30 days. You should also discuss what you plan to achieve in the next 30 days (that is, by the end of 90 days).”
  • “be careful not to fall into the low-hanging fruit trap. This trap catches leaders when they expend most of their energy seeking early wins that don’t contribute to achieving their longer-term business objectives. It’s like trying to launch a rocket into orbit with nothing except a very big first stage; the risk is great that you’ll fall back to earth once the initial momentum fades. The implication: when you’re deciding where to seek early wins, you may have to forgo some of the low-hanging fruit and reach higher in the tree.”
  • “If you’re in a realignment, for example, and people are in denial about the need for change, they’re likely to greet your plan with stony silence or active resistance. You may therefore need to build awareness of the need for change. Or you may need to sharpen the diagnosis of the problem, create a compelling vision and strategy, develop a solid cross-functional implementation plan, or create a coalition in support of change.”
  • “The key, then, is to figure out which parts of the change process can be best addressed through planning, and which are better dealt with through collective learning.”
  • “The key is to identify both the good and the bad elements of the existing culture. Elevate and praise the good elements even as you seek to change the bad ones.”
  • To identify potential problems:
    • “The external environment. Could trends in public opinion, government action, or economic conditions precipitate major problems for your unit?”
    • “Customers, markets, competitors, and strategy. Are there developments in the competitive situation confronting your organization that could pose major challenges?”
    • “Internal capabilities. Are there potential problems with your unit’s processes, skills, and capabilities that could precipitate a crisis?”
    • “Organizational politics. Are you in danger of unwittingly stepping on a political land mine?”
  • “The higher you climb in organizations, the more you take on the role of organizational architect, creating and aligning the key elements of the organizational system: the strategic direction, structure, core processes, and skill bases that provide the foundation for superior performance.”
  • Common traps
    • “Making changes for change’s sake. The temptation is great for newly appointed leaders to make rapid, visible changes to strategies or structures, whether or not these elements are the right areas for focus.”
    • “Trying to restructure your way out of deeper problems. Overhauling your organization’s structure when the real issues lie in the processes, skill bases, and culture can amount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
    • “Creating structures that are too complex”
    • “Overestimating your organization’s capacity to absorb change.”
  • “Strategic direction drives the other elements and is influenced by them: if you decide to change your group’s direction, you will probably have to alter its structure, processes, and skills to create a fully aligned architecture.”
  • Misalignment
    • “Misalignments between strategic direction and skill bases”
    • “Misalignments between strategic direction and core processes.”
    • “Misalignments between structure and processes.”
    • “Misalignments between structure and skills.”
  • Achieve Alignment
    • “Begin with strategic direction.”
    • “Look at supporting structure, processes, and skills.”
    • “Decide how and when you will introduce the new strategic direction.”
    • “Think through the correct sequencing.”
  • “Strategic direction encompasses mission, vision, and strategy. Mission is about what will be achieved, vision is about why people should feel motivated to perform at a high level, and strategy is about how resources should be allocated and decisions made to accomplish the mission.”
  • “A good general rule is that decisions should be made by the people who have the most relevant knowledge, as long as their incentives encourage them to do what is best for the organization. If your group’s decision-making process is centralized, you (and perhaps several other individuals) can decide quickly. But you may be forgoing the benefit of the wisdom of others who have better information to make certain of those decisions.”
  • “Effective leaders seek to align the interests of individual decision makers with the interests of the group as a whole. This is why placing more emphasis on group incentives is effective in some organizations: they focus everyone’s attention on the ability to work together.”
  • Process quality:
    • “Productivity. Does the process efficiently transform knowledge, materials, and labor into value?”
    • “Timeliness. Does the process deliver the desired value in a timely manner?”
    • “Reliability. Is the process sufficiently reliable, or does it break down too often?”
    • “Quality. Does the process deliver value in a way that consistently meets required quality standards?”
  • “Of course you need to evaluate the impact of previous leadership, but rather than point out others’ mistakes, concentrate on assessing current behavior and results and on making the changes necessary to support improved performance.”
  • “The key is to find the right balance between stability and change. First and foremost, focus only on truly high-priority personnel changes early on. If you can make do for a while with a B-player, then do so.”
  • criteria for evaluate direct reports:
    • “Competence. Does this person have the technical competence and experience to do the job effectively?”
    • “Judgment. Does this person exercise good judgment, especially under pressure or when faced with making sacrifices for the greater good?”
    • “Energy. Does this team member bring the right kind of energy to the job, or is she burned out or disengaged?”
    • “Focus. Is this person capable of setting priorities and sticking to them, or prone to riding off in all directions?”
    • “Relationships. Does this individual get along with others on the team and support collective decision making, or is he difficult to work with?”
    • “Trust. Can you trust this person to keep her word and follow through on commitments?”
  • Initial evaluation 1-on-1 guidelines
    • “Review available personnel history, performance data, and other appraisals.”
    • Ask same questions
      • “What are the strengths and weaknesses of our existing strategy?”
      • “What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing us in the short term? In the medium term?”
      • “What resources could we leverage more effectively?”
      • “How could we improve the way the team works together?”
      • “If you were in my position, what would your priorities be?”
    • “Does the person volunteer information, or do you have to extract it? Does the person take responsibility for problems in her area? Make excuses? Subtly point fingers at others?”
    • “What topics elicit strong emotional responses? These hot buttons provide clues to what motivates the individual and what kinds of changes she would be energized by.”
    • “Outside these one-on-one meetings, notice how the individual relates to other team members. Do relations appear cordial and productive? Tense and competitive? Judgmental or reserved?”
    • “One way to assess judgment is to work with a person for an extended time and observe whether he is able to (1) make sound predictions and (2) develop good strategies for avoiding problems.”
    • How to test for judgement: “Ask individuals about a topic they’re passionate about outside work. It could be politics or cooking or baseball; it doesn’t matter. Challenge them to make predictions: ‘Who do you think is going to do better in the debate?’ ‘What does it take to bake a perfect soufflé?’ ‘Which team will win the game tonight?’ Press them to commit themselves; unwillingness to go out on a limb is a warning sign in itself. Then probe why they think their predictions are correct. Does the rationale make sense? If possible, follow up to see what happens.”
  • To align and motivate team:
    • “Push tools, such as goals, performance measurement systems, and incentives, motivate people through authority, loyalty, fear, and expectation of reward for productive work.”
    • “Pull tools, such as a compelling vision, inspire people by invoking a positive and exciting image of the future.”
    • “If your direct reports work essentially independently and if the group’s success hinges chiefly on individual achievement, you don’t need to promote teamwork and should consider an individual incentive system.”
    • “If success depends largely on cooperation among your direct reports and integration of their expertise, true teamwork is essential, and you should use group goals and incentives to gain alignment.”
  • Reasons to have an off-site meeting
    • “To gain a shared understanding of the business (diagnostic focus)”
    • “To define the vision and create a strategy (strategy focus)”
    • “To change the way the team works together (team-process focus)”
    • “To build or alter relationships in the group (relationship focus)”
    • “To develop a plan and commit to achieving it (planning focus)”
    • “To address conflicts and negotiate agreements (conflict-resolution focus)”
  • “When a leader solicits information and advice from direct reports—individually, as a group, or both—but reserves the right to make the final call, she is using a consult-and-decide approach.”
  • “In the build-consensus process, the leader both seeks information and analysis and seeks buy-in from the group for any decision. The goal is not full consensus but sufficient consensus.”
  • “If the decision is likely to be highly divisive—creating winners and losers—then you usually are better off using consult-and-decide and taking the heat.”
  • “If the decision requires energetic support for implementation from people whose performance you cannot adequately observe and control, then you usually are better off using a build-consensus process.”
  • “If your team members are inexperienced, then you usually are better off relying more on consult-and-decide until you’ve taken the measure of the team and developed their capabilities.”
  • “If you’re put in charge of a group with whom you need to establish your authority (such as supervising former peers), then you’re better off relying on consult-and-decide to make some key early decisions.”
  • “In start-ups and turnarounds, consult-and-decide often works well.”
  • “To be effective in realignment and sustaining-success situations, in contrast, leaders often need to deal with strong, intact teams and confront cultural and political issues. These sorts of issues are typically best addressed with the build-consensus approach.”
  • “Discipline yourself to invest in building up ‘relationship bank accounts’ with people you anticipate needing to work with later.”
  • “Start to map your influence landscape by identifying influential players, what you need them to do, and when you need them to do it.”
  • “Influence networks are channels for communication and persuasion that operate in parallel with the formal structure—a sort of shadow organization.”
  • “Another strategy is to get your boss to connect you to key stakeholders. Request a list of the key people outside your group whom he thinks you should get to know.”
  • “power coalitions: groups of people who explicitly or implicitly cooperate over the long term to pursue certain goals or protect certain privileges.”
  • Potential supporters
    • “People who share your vision for the future. If you see a need for change, look for others who have pushed for similar changes in the past.”
    • “People who have been quietly working for change on a small scale, such as a plant engineer who has found an innovative way to significantly reduce waste.”
    • “People new to the company who have not yet become acculturated to its mode of operation.”
  • “When you meet resistance, probe for the reasons behind it before labeling people as implacably opposed. Understanding resisters’ motives many equip you to counter their arguments.”
  • “Understanding people’s motivations is only part of the story. You also need to assess situational pressures: the driving and restraining forces acting on them because of the situation they’re in. Driving forces push people in the direction you want them to go, and restraining forces are situational reasons they would say no.”
  • “Logos is about making logical arguments—using data, facts, and reasoned rationales to build your case for change. Ethos is about elevating the principles that should be applied (such as fairness) and the values that must be upheld (such as a culture of teamwork) in making decisions. Pathos is about making powerful emotional connections with your audience—for example, putting forth an inspiring vision of what cooperation could accomplish.”
  • “So convincing opinion leaders to make commitments of support and to mobilize their own networks can have a powerful leveraging effect.”
  • “The implication is that you need to avoid, to the extent possible, asking others to make choices that are inconsistent with their values and prior commitments, decrease their status, threaten their reputations, or risk evoking the disapproval of respected others. If someone you need to influence has a competing prior commitment, you should look for ways to help them gracefully escape from it.”
  • “Incrementalism refers to the notion that people can move in desired directions step-by-step when they wouldn’t go in a single leap.”
  • “If you approach the right people first, you can set in motion a virtuous cycle of alliance building. Success in gaining one respected ally makes it easier to recruit others—and your resource base increases.”
  • “Action-forcing events get people to stop deferring decisions, delaying, and avoiding commitment of scarce resources.”
  • “If you fail to establish solid boundaries defining what you are willing and not willing to do, the people around you—bosses, peers, and direct reports—will take whatever you have to give.”
  • “To be effective, you must be connected to the people who make action happen and to the subterranean flow of information.”
  • “the tendency to avoid taking the bull by the horns, which results in tough problems becoming even tougher.”
  • “You need a network of trusted advisers within and outside the organization with whom to talk through what you’re experiencing. Your network is an indispensable resource that can help you avoid becoming isolated and losing perspective.”
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