Dialogue Q1 2017

Page 1

sindi mabaso-koyana

m a r s h a l l

Q1 2017


Meet the Fifa fixer goldsmith

Questions for success ben laker DIALOGUEREVIEW.COM


Key account mismanagement


New world order Linda Sharkey on how to create global leaders for a changed planet

Q1 2017






Captain Fantastic

New Luddism

Dream counters

Second life

Golden ages

From military to maestro

Anti-techs are ruining the future

Anatomy of the swashbuckling CFO

Virtual reality bites for business travel

Renewal is the crux of success



Digest 14 FOCUS



The wild economy: Welcome to the jungle


Keep them fizzing when their world goes pop


New world order: Leaders for a changed world



My edit

News nation

Ben Walker on Capitalism 2.0

Colombia’s derailed peace deal


Great minds Michael Chavez meets Shayne Elliott




Upfront Michael Canning on the importance of imagination


The big interview Fifa fixer Sindi MabasoKoyana

Books and apps recommended for you


Last word Karina Robinson on Germany’s unlikely struggle

Q1 2017 Dialogue











Kate Cooper: The leadership column The female quota fallacy

Six daily questions for winning leaders

Vivek Wadhwa: The innovation column The way we learn tomorrow

Drucker said: Innovate or else


Captain Fantastic: From military to maestro


First time leaders





Phil Young: The finance column

Andy Law: The marketing column



The new musketeers

KAM: Mission impossible to mission accomplished


Lessons that last


Virtual reality in business travel



Patrick Woodman: The strategy column


Your failure resume


The four ages of leadership

Q1 2017 Dialogue




janice burns

Janice Burns is chief learning officer at MasterCard. She has more than 25 years of experience in financial services, payments and technology focused on product management, human capital strategy, talent development, inclusion and organizational development. She specializes in aligning business strategies with human capital solutions, managing cultural change and transformation, and developing and implementing innovative learning solutions.

linda sharkey

Dr Linda Sharkey is an HR executive and business strategist, and internationally recognized author and expert on leadership development and talent management. Her focus is coaching and developing leaders and teams; and driving talent and workforce planning initiatives that support productivity and growth. She is managing partner of Achieveblue. Her coauthored book Winning With Transglobal Leadership was named one of the top 30 business books for 2013. Dialogue Q1 2017

marshall goldsmith

Dr Marshall Goldsmith was recognized in 2015 as the number one leadership thinker in the world and a top-five management thinker, as well as one of the top-ten most influential business thinkers in the world, and the topranked executive coach at the 2013 biennial Thinkers50 ceremony. He is the author or editor of 35 books, which have sold more than two million copies, been translated into 30 languages and become bestsellers in 12 countries.

anders indset

Anders Indset is a Norwegian-born business philosopher, investor and entrepreneur. He is a visiting guest lecturer at leading international business schools and involved with various tech startups. He is an internationally-renowned keynote speaker, cofounder of the management think-tank ShapingWork, and author of Wild Knowledge – Outthink the Revolution. His broad industry experience includes ten years as a consultant, and launching a creative communications agency.

shaheena janjuha jivraj

Dr Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj is cofounder of Boardwalk Leadership – a training and research consultancy with global reach that specializes in gender diversity and inclusion. She was the founding director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Henley Business School. Her areas of research examine leadership and management in entrepreneurial firms, with a focus on family businesses and social enterprises.

jayne antrobus

Jayne Antrobus is an executive with 20 years of HR experience in the areas of international HR management, organizational and leadership development, and talent management. She joined SABMiller in 2010 as group head of learning & development, responsible for building the global learning and development function. She previously worked for the RWE group in a number of senior corporate and regional HR roles. Past positions include head of leadership development at BAE.



My edit

It used to be straightforward. Employees came to work, they went home. At the end of the week they collected their paycheque. Work’s purpose was to pay the bills, support the family. The psychological contract was simple. That contract has changed. No longer, for most professional employees, is money in return for labour enough. Employees, particularly the younger wing of Generation X and the Millennials, are keen to find purpose to work beyond financial security. Employees’ desire to look for non-monetary returns has disrupted a fundamental tenet of the labourcapital relationship and, to some degree, capitalism itself. Michael Chavez, in his inaugural Great Minds column (page 9), The advent in which he picks the of the sharing brains of some of the economy means world’s leading business leaders, looks at a bank the conventional – once the epitome customer-supplier of straightforward contract faces an capitalism – which is existential threat adapting well to a world driven by more than just hard cash. There are many more disruptive forces at work. Not only is the traditional labour-capital contract no longer fit for purpose, the advent of the sharing economy means the conventional customer-supplier contract also faces an existential threat. The customer was once deemed to be king. The sharing economy – based on trust and at least quasi-equality between both sides of the transaction – means good customers are now partners: best friends to be advised, not monarchs to be adulated. This issue, our Focus theme is Capitalism Reimagined – and reimagine it we must, says Anders Indset (page 16). Indset argues that ‘dinosaur’

companies that continue to operate as if the world economy remained unshared and unchanged will soon die, regardless of how big they are. In a sobering contention, he forecasts that half of the jobs we have today will cease to exist within a decade. Better leadership will make the difference between the victims and the survivors. It will even turn some ‘dinosaurs’ into tomorrow’s spring chickens, so they might change their ways and thrive. In our cover story, Linda Sharkey (page 22) shows why the assumption that great domestic leaders can automatically become the supreme international leaders needed to direct a globalized planet is dangerously wrong. Global leadership is a special skill. Central to developing leaders is learning to capture and hone their skills for new environments. The military high-flyer Patrick Hall (page 38) explains how he made the transition – so others might follow. Meanwhile (page 44), Todd Tauber explores ways for chief learning officers to exploit – rather than suffer in – their new environments, where many employees are becoming semi-autodidactic. Dialogue itself is embracing new ways of learning. From this issue, we are incorporating links to discovery paths in a selection of features. Want to learn more on the subject you have just read about? Simply scan the QR Code and you’ll be transported to a selection of specially curated premium content hosted by the collaborative learning platform BlueBottleBiz. The key to thriving in a disrupted world is to change the way we earn, and learn. Many fear a reimagined, wilder capitalism. But it might just be something to be excited by – and embrace. Enjoy the issue. Ben Walker is editor of Dialogue

Q1 2017 Dialogue




Leading lights in the global HR field enjoy drinks at the launch of HR magazine’s 2016 Most Influential league

Dialogue supremo is HR star The chair of the Dialogue editorial board has been named in prestigious league of the world’s top HR thinkers Dr Liz Mellon has been named among 30 leading influential thinkers in the journal HR. Executive headhunters, leading HR directors and academics from Ashridge Business School used special criteria to measure the influence of key leaders within the field. The criteria are: Practical relevance – do they understand the issues facing HR/business Dialogue Q1 2017

today and suggest ideas that can be utilized in practice? Commercial/service impact – does their thinking have a positive impact on the business? Visibility and sharing information – do they share their ideas widely, engaging with the HR community, and not just publishing a paper/book? Works published/influential in the past year – have they said anything of significance in the past year?

Originality/challenge – are they making HR directors sit up and take notice? Personal influence – do they command respect among HR practitioners and within their own community?

Dr Mellon is one of several Dialogue contributors to be named by HR. Professor Vlatka Hlupic and Professor Rob Goffee also feature. — For more information visit bit.ly/hrinfluentials


great minds with michael chavez

The forward-thinking bank-chief Shayne Elliott embodies the power of purpose in commerce

Top leaders gather in Berlin Senior figures flock to summit What will the future hold for HR? How will digitalization and Industry 4.0 impact talent management? HR and talent management leaders came together for the second year running to answer these questions and more at the Global Talent Management Leaders conference in Berlin in late 2016. Among the hot topics covered at the event were trends like HR transformation, such as age talent acquisition and leadership in a multigenerational workforce. Companies such as JP Morgan, MasterCard and McDonald’s featured at the hard-hitting event, of which Dialogue is media partner.


— To register for the 18-19 September 2017 event, visit bit.ly/globalleaders2017

Banking: in pursuit of purpose At one time, banking was a simple pursuit based almost entirely on the making of money. Banks would generate income by lending money to consumers at a higher rate than central banks. And that was pretty much it. But, as with so many industries, normal doesn’t work anymore. As purpose becomes more important for consumers and employees, banks are seeking ways to build value beyond their bottom line. Shayne Elliott is chief executive of ANZ, one of the largest lenders in Australia and New Zealand. Elliott is a little different to many bankers in that he doesn’t see it as his role to unreservedly defend his industry. In fact, he’s keen that ANZ learns from the mistakes that caused the global financial crisis. “The system hasn’t really delivered,” he told me when we met recently. “Big business gave us the crisis, and it gave us fat-cats. Wealth was supposed to trickle down, but it hasn’t been that way for most people. We know at ANZ that we have to reconnect with society and community, otherwise we are in peril.” Elliott has embedded into his company a guiding principle of purpose – asking everyone involved in the organization to think about why they are doing something, and what values led them to that decision. The drive for purpose has uncovered some interesting bright spots in the bank. Elliott told me how he visited a branch of ANZ in rural Australia and was surprised to see staff sales targets on open display to customers. He asked the branch manager how they could reconcile these targets with doing right by the customer. The manager told him, “Everyone knows me in this town, we live here.” The bank is part of the fabric of a community, so bank managers have to work in the best interests of the people who inhabit it. In the same way that residents of English villages want their local pub to thrive

commercially, the residents of this small Australian town wanted the best for their bank. “We live here!” Elliott told me, “that’s what we have to get over to the public – bankers are still not seen as human beings, but we are.” ANZ’s purpose is tightly linked to other community programmes – it sponsors Mardi Gras in Sydney for the LGBTI community, and bank jobs for refugees. “Radicalization in migrant communities is a big deal in Australia,” says Elliott. “But radicalization is just a by-product of marginalization. We are about participation, which is an antidote to marginalization. Our refugee employees are some of the most amazing staff we have because they are so

We know at ANZ that we have to reconnect with society and community, otherwise we are in peril committed – and that is because they are participating. These community efforts are exemplary of our larger purpose, which is broadly about helping people to participate productively in the economy.” Elliott says that what might be termed ANZ’s Purpose Test gives coherence to the bank’s community policies because it makes it clear to staff why they are important and how they link to the business versus just being ‘good things to do’. This clarity helps employees see how their efforts fit into the bigger picture, and that shared meaning in turn generates motivation and alignment. I believe it is a model that many businesses – large and small – would be wise to follow. I’ll share the thoughts of another Great Mind in the next issue. — Michael Chavez is chief executive of Duke Corporate Education Q1 2017 Dialogue


The greatest problems facing organizations today no longer fit in neat categories such as operational, financial or technological. Our biggest challenges are more complex and blurred — and therefore more human. That is why leadership is more important now than ever before. So is context. Innovation, culture change, agility and shifts in behaviours and mindsets are the new change agenda. And, leaders are under pressure to accelerate their readiness for this new world. Whether the need is building fundamentals or preparing for the unknown, at Duke Corporate Education, we build solutions grounded in your business context. We work with you to craft the right solution so that your leaders — managers, directors, high potentials or executives — acquire not just new knowledge, but also behaviours and mindsets to move the organization in the right direction fast. We’re here to help leaders get ready for what’s next.

Singapore | Johannesburg | Ahmedabad | London | San Diego | Durham


www. dukece.com

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michael canning

Ideas are your armour against disruption. Make space for them

Imagine what’s next – or be disrupted Michael Canning is global head of new businesses at Duke Corporate Education

The surest way to provoke the imagination is to escape the familiar. Avoid your office. Go for a walk

Disruption has become a recurring theme. Two in every five companies listed on the Fortune 500 in 2000 failed to survive until 2010. Anticipating disruption is one thing. Imagining what’s next before you’re disrupted is quite another. Vivek Wadhwa, Dialogue’s innovation columnist and disruption guru in Duke Corporate Education’s Silicon Valley immersion programmes, describes disruption as the phenomenon that occurs when radical innovations ignite revolutionary or evolutionary change in an industry. Technological breakthroughs often enable the radical change. But it is the organization that creates the new business model, and platform around it, which disrupts the market. Smartphone technology made Lyft and Uber possible. But it was the innovative application of the tech that made them worldwide blockbuster disruptors. It seems every industry is on the brink of major disruption. The car industry is grappling with more change in the next five years than witnessed in the entire history of the automobile, as it contends with multiple mega shifts. In healthcare, computer companies are vying to monitor patients’ health through various sensor devices. As leaders, we know avoiding disruption requires radically reimagining our businesses. Yet it is hard to act for the present and redesign for the future simultaneously. Until recently, we understood little about how our imagination worked. A recent Dartmouth study reveals that imagination is not an isolated activity. Rather, it requires a large network to be activated across different parts of the brain to produce manipulations of imagery – a ‘mental workspace’. According to imagination expert Jim Davies, this mental workspace and our imagination is constrained by three factors – our current environment, our models of the world, and the catalogue of visual inputs we’ve seen. Here’s how to help loosen the constraints:

Be purposeful

In his TED talk, Gregg Fraley suggests

we should access the imagination more deliberately. Put ‘use my imagination’ on your calendar regularly. And give it a challenge – a clear problem to work on. In terms of the environment, the surest way to provoke the imagination is to escape the familiar. Novel experiences are effective at unleashing the imagination because they force the brain out of its tendency to take shortcuts. Avoid your office, where you are surrounded by familiar and stressful triggers. Go for walk or find a new place to let your mind wander.

Get plugged in

In terms of worldview, being steeped in your industry is good. But it is unlikely to provide the insight needed, as most companies are casualties of disruptive forces that began outside their sector. Meeting real people who are disrupting the world is advantageous, as it makes the pace and depth of change become real. Adding people to your network who are working closer to the edge, different in age and interests, is very valuable.

Make it visual

A personal example: my wife and I are remodelling our home. We both found the process of looking at pictures of interiors and exteriors on the website Houzz a very valuable part of the design process. At work, the guidance begins with brainstorming sessions with clean whiteboards that we can populate with words. Starting instead with a range of images, videos and other mechanisms to bring in visuals might be a more powerful imagination trigger. A collection of images that represent customers, new technologies, or other less directly related aspects of an opportunity might be a good way to jumpstart the imagination. There are many things we need to do as leaders to protect our organizations from being victims of disruption. Embracing imagination as an important leadership practice is one crucial lever. Q1 2017 Dialogue




Capitalism reimagined How will the global economic system adapt to the needs of the future? The world – post-financial-crisis – has yet to fully prepare for a disrupted reality led by Millennials and Homelanders, and borne by a transformative sharing economy. Is capitalism in its current form fit for purpose? How will we engage our teams in a business world that is simultaneously diversifying and consolidating? In what ways will we create and shape the global leaders who operate across boundaries and outside national borders?


Welcome to the jungle 20

Keep them fizzing 22

New world order

Discovery path Learn more‌ about how capitalism might be reimagined to adapt to a globalized, post-financial-crisis world bit.ly/ddpcapitalismreimagined





Welcome to the

Dialogue Q1 2017





Anders Indset illustration

Quentin Monge

Capitalism is dead. Long live wild capitalism Jesus of Nazareth grew up in a capitalistic world – capitalism is as old as history. And it is a generally good model. Even the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, believes it can function properly. “Capitalism is a working model,” he says. “We just need compassion.” So, from 1AD to the 21st Century, the core challenge of capitalism has changed not a jot. The system requires empathy, which it lacks. In the traditional economy – still the reality for many today – capitalism is still a brutal model in which if you have a strong, positive moral value framework in place, you will be wiped away. Were Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope around today, he would still be roaming the streets with his lamp, searching fruitlessly for the honest man.

Were Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope around today, he would still be roaming the streets with his lamp, searching fruitlessly for the honest man Yet the world has an opportunity to change capitalism for the better, because capitalism is in a state of flux. It is becoming wilder and more beautiful. Never has there been a more exciting time to leave a human footprint on this digitized planet. The first step to making this disrupted, wild economy work for human good is to recognize that our rapid digital evolution is not really about IT and technology, they are merely its building blocks. Rather, the wild economy is more about a complete switch in philosophy around how world capitalism is run. New-age philosophers are needed everywhere, in every industry, and in every organization. How will the world grapple with changes that seemed impossible just a few decades ago? Cash is dead. The cash rich are no longer the most powerful. Today, the real power lies with wild knowledge and ideas. And, in this new reality, the whole concept of capitalism Q1 2017 Dialogue



is challenged, from every angle and aspect. Swarms of interdependent and connected young people are the new powerhouses. Never has the gap between 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds been bigger. Whereas 40-year-olds are regularly frustrated by the digital world buzzing in their pockets and eating up their time, 20-yearolds generally enjoy their digitally-connected lives – and use physical spaces as a secondary playground. Through participatory cultures, co-creation, creativity and joy, they are working on the solutions of tomorrow. This epochal shift will hit capitalism and change how our financial and business ecosystem operates.

Wild questions

There are four key questions that managers and leaders who want to embrace the opportunities of the wild economy must try to answer. What is going on in the business world today? What is happening to the economy? Where are organizations heading? How can we learn and adapt to the new paradigm? from usp to isp

T H E E R A O F TA I LO R - M A D E Humans are not rational beings. Rather we act on emotions and then try to justify our decisions retrospectively. Companies are very adept at manipulating our irrationality, leading us to make major off-the-peg buying decisions based on subconscious instincts. As the economy grows wilder, this will change. More transactions will be based on individual need, and will take place between peers. We are heading into a world of microcapitalism, where we digitally move small amounts of value (money) in exchange for products and services. The advent of bespoke sharing economy services like Airbnb and

Dialogue Q1 2017

The big dinosaur companies, carrying large bureaucracies, are all going to die

TaskRabbit show that this new world is already here. The economy will switch from being based on USPs (unique selling propositions) to being based on ISPs (individual selling propositions) – services tailored to individuals rather than mass markets. Owning things will become less important than accessing services. BluRay players and physical DVDs have already been rendered obsolete by UltraHD 4k streaming. Real-time services will evolve into ‘before time’. Our devices will know we will be driving up to the mountains at the weekend, and that it will be snowing, and will therefore proactively offer us three-day insurance: click to buy. Our digitized homes will know we are running out of toilet paper, and will order it for us, helping us avoid the empty roll problem. Will the buying of massproduced washing machines one day be replaced in cities entirely by Laundrapp-style click-andgo laundry services? dinosaurs repeated

T H E D E AT H O F G I A N T S The big dinosaur companies, carrying large bureaucracies, and held up by trade unions, are all going to die. Half of the jobs we have today will be gone by 2025. These organizations are too big to change. They employ talented people, but these people are typically too similar to each other. The companies have failed to adapt to a world of diversity in the workspace. Less than ten years from now, we will see a multitude of small, very


rapidly-growing companies mastering their niches. At that point we will move to a microcapitalistic interdependent society where many specialized transactions occur daily. Larger corporations with a broader approach will have difficulty competing and staying relevant. Retaining scores of very similar executives – typically teams of white men aged 40-50 – will kill off companies. Instead, we will see structures whereby select groups perform tasks. The responsibilities of each individual will be clear. People will be assigned tasks at which they excel. Differences between workers will be exploited, not suppressed.


unit – and consigning the countryside to being an economic junk space. Skilled workers want to live and breathe the events of the city. Similarly, the whole experience around the products and services a company sells must also be an event. In the wild economy, getting people talking and communicating is the only metric of success.

free your mind

THE JOBS WILL FOLLOW Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been good at replacing old jobs with new fields and new jobs. But we have to get used to the concept of jobs becoming obsolete. In future, work will be more about handling tasks, where every time you do such a task, you get swiped some money. Time-regulated jobs are dead. Microinvoicing will be the new mode of work. This new paradigm will obviously favour those who are smart networkers. Yet there will be many people who are frustrated about this – hence the rise of anti-establishment movements like ISIS, AfD and Brexit. The wild economy values openness, collaboration and social connectivity: it has little to offer 33-year-old boys who live with their parents, entertaining themselves with video games and blue movies, closing themselves off to the world. Because social intelligence is the most tradable skill of tomorrow, such people will become surplus to requirements. Are Western economies ready for that? You cannot prevent it by giving someone useless tasks, meaningless jobs, or symbolic chores. Instead, we should prepare for it – teaching social skills in schools so that those who are not naturally blessed with them might learn them instead. the new playing field

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EVENT With on-demand TV consigning traditional scheduled television to history, the only value proposition that remains for commercial TV networks is live coverage of events, in particular sporting events. Events still attract huge advertising revenues. ‘The event’ is extremely powerful. When we ask people why they are satisfied with their jobs, and where they live, one of the most frequent answers is “something is going on here”. This is also why we have urbanized our planet into metropolitan cells, rendering the nation state an anachronistic

the xx factor

WOMEN WILL RULE THE NEW WORLD We see it in academia. We see it in business. We see it in governments. Women are taking charge of everything. While politicians and the media have been discussing the lack of women, young women have spent the last ten to 15 years getting ready to eat the 50-plus-year-old white male dinosaurs at the tops of large organizations. The winner in the wild economy will be female 30and 40-somethings equipped with networking skills and social media powers – skilled at talking with people, not at people. school’s out forever

D I S R U P T I N G E D U C AT I O N RIP those old-school models that train us to become manual industry workers when there are few manual industrial jobs left. Many schools train the skills of the past and do nothing for training the skills of the future. Boring teachers and boring schools now have a clear and present competitor in the shape of international – and free – videos that you can watch where and when you want; collaborative learning techniques that engage and inspire; and digital networks with the power to educate and inform. In the wild economy, we must disrupt the school system, as its present incarnation serves no purpose. The first crisis will hit high schools and universities. Why the hell should I go to a dull school when all the great lessons can be found on the internet? And why should education end at age 18 or 21? There is no point being afraid of wild capitalism, because the anxious will suffer. We need the free market to help us create a world where the good guys can outrun the bad guys. The economy will grow ever wilder. The chaos will increase. We live in the most exciting times. We will achieve. We will progress. — Anders Indset is a business philosopher, investor, entrepreneur and keynote speaker Q1 2017 Dialogue



Keep them fizzing when their world goes pop How do you maintain employee engagement and business performance during extreme volatility? Beer giant SABMiller’s Jayne Antrobus and Samantha Rockey report from front of house It was one of the top five acquisitions of all time: in 2015, the boards of Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) and SABMiller announced that they had reached agreement for ABI to takeover SABMiller. The transaction, valued at around $117 billion, was extraordinarily complex. Before the offer could be put to shareholders, regulatory approval was required from the European Union, South Africa, the US and China, as well as several other countries. SABMiller’s senior leadership, led by chief executive Alan Clark, knew the acquisition would be traumatic for the business, particularly for the thousands of employees whose jobs were at risk. In addition, the nature of the offer meant SABMiller was no longer in control of its own destiny. This fact, combined with the profound nature of the expected change, left the business vulnerable to leadership and workforce disengagement. So the company’s executive committee set two priorities: Continue to drive a high-performing business Position SABMiller employees in the best possible way for their future, whether that lay inside the new organization (NewCo) or elsewhere

The HR team realized the organization needed a means of delivering on these priorities. As a result, the People Plan was developed...

step 1

Know that people come first “People remain my number one priority. Selling more beer and staying focused on hitting our targets and beating the competition is a very close second.” – Alan Clark, SABMiller chief executive

For the target organization, a corporate takeover is invariably traumatic. The effect on managers and employees has even been given a name – Merger Syndrome. Among its symptoms are: raised stress levels; rumour mills; mistrust; a loss of motivation and commitment; and decreased productivity. Clark’s statement above, which coincided with the 2015 takeover announcement, was clearcut. But how would leaders demonstrate the intent behind the sentiment? The initial focus was on acknowledging the uncertainty, its likely duration and, where possible, clarifying the things leaders could guarantee for employees to reduce it. For example, putting a process in place to determine what work would stop, continue or start anew; offering enhanced employment terms for all, and retention bonuses for key talent. At an individual level, performance management was also a challenge. A prime example was how to deal

MERRY MERGER SABMiller’s financial performance has been, to quote Alan Clark, “remarkable”. For the financial year to March 2016, global revenue from SABMiller’s producers showed solid growth of 5%. In addition, beer volumes grew by 2%, matching the previous year’s performance. The success story continued: in the first quarter of the new financial year, the businesses directly managed by SABMiller contributed an impressive revenue growth of 7%.

Dialogue Q1 2017

fairly with people who had been set performance goals relating to projects that had changed as a result of the transition. Instead the performance appraiser was given other measures by which to assess the individual, such as how they dealt with the change in their circumstances. Goal-setting for the 2016/17 financial year was especially problematic, given the certainty that at some point in that period the takeover would either be completed or abandoned. The solution was to shrink the goal-setting horizon, to enable rolling quarterly goals. This allowed goals to have resonance with the immediate tasks ahead, as well as the flexibility to be altered as circumstances around the transaction changed. step 2

Let leaders lead The primary challenge for leaders was to sustain – even enhance – the behaviours that had helped to create such a successful business. Within the People Plan, the pragmatic approach to leadership development manifested itself through a number of key deliverables. The first was a workshop entitled ‘Leading in Challenging Times’. Its primary purpose was to allow leaders and their teams to be open about their feelings regarding the transaction, while giving managers a basis on which to maintain those conversations as the transaction progressed. These discussions proved powerful in maintaining, and even enhancing, the sense of trust between employees and managers. Having identified concerns and issues, they allowed space for leaders to address these where possible. Where it wasn’t possible, the act of


simply acknowledging them enabled teams to maintain their focus. The workshop also drew attention to a newly launched online ‘Leadership Toolkit’, which provided a repository of information and resources to help leaders build their own – and their team’s – resilience. It contained materials ranging from short YouTube clips, to in-depth expert papers. There were also instructions and support materials for practical activities the leader could work through with his or her team. To further avoid the risk of pushback, the toolkit was not imposed on its audience. Instead, the underlying message of its communication programme was “it is there if you want it”. However, it was publicized using vignettes exploring how line-leaders had used the tools, and the value they had derived from them. step 3

Communicate to engage One of the identified causes of the Merger Syndrome is less topdown communication, leading in turn to an overactive rumour mill. SABMiller’s guiding principle was for communications to remain lineleader-led, and to become even more people-centric. This included, for example, ensuring that leaders spoke more frequently with employees – praising them for going the extra mile; enabling leaders to support employees to share their feelings; and supporting leaders to answer employees’ questions as honestly as possible. The reason the communication plan worked was that the level of emotional engagement was ramped up: senior leaders focused on personal interactions with employees affected by the transition, and line managers were encouraged to step into a more emotionally open approach. For a taskfocused, performance-based business this was not an easy shift. In addition, listening groups were held regularly across the organization to garner qualitative feedback. These groups specifically excluded management, allowing for open and honest dialogue. The anonymous input from the sessions provided useful


P E O P L E P L A N : T H E R E S U LT S Useful measures of the effectiveness of SABMiller’s People Plan can be found in the results of employee pulse surveys. The graphic shows a sharp improvement over just two months in how close employees felt to the business. on the up

How two key indicators rose sharply amid adversity, thanks to SABMiller’s People Plan I feel well informed about how the AB InBev deal is progressing

68% Feb 2016

91% Apr 2016

Most companies will of course seek to obtain the best possible terms for their people in the event of an acquisition; however, the package of protections and enhancements secured by SABMiller would stand up to any comparison. The commitment made to an extended development offer; the extent – and timing – of the learning resources made available; and the nonstop communication effort all demonstrate a willingness to go the extra mile to ensure people across the organization were fully supported. Moreover, the People Plan resonated with SABMiller’s corporate ‘personality’. In acquisition situations, particularly for the business on the receiving end, it becomes impossible to control external events. So the People

insight into what was being talked about on the grapevine, and was then used as a springboard to coach line-leaders on what they needed to do more or less of. step 4

Create happy landings In all cases, the communication output encouraged SABMiller people to look

My manager is good at communicating what is happening



Feb 2016

Apr 2016

Plan focused on the strengths and behaviours that had carried SABMiller to its position among elite global brewers, while seeking to stoke, not diminish, the burning pride that employees have in the organization. Leadership is a key performance differentiator for organizations. Situations of such turbulence, like a takeover scenario, bring this into stark relief. Without new brands or new projects to frame leadership work, it can feel quite exposing. But by deliberately using the takeover as a teaching tool, the SABMiller team tried to help leaders see the acquisition as a unique opportunity to test their skills, reflect and develop further. For them, adversity has become a catalyst for improvement, and greater strength.

upon the situation as an opportunity not a threat, with a relentless focus – underscored in Alan Clark’s personal communications – to look forward not backwards, and to focus on future opportunities. — Jayne Antrobus is global director of learning at SABMiller. Samantha Rockey, global head of leadership development at SABMiller

Q1 2017 Dialogue



Dialogue Q1 2017



New world order Capitalism is reshaping itself to a globalized planet. What are the attributes that make global leaders successful in the changed world?


Linda Sharkey illustration

Neil Stevens

Globalization isn’t happening in business. It has already happened. The question is, will you face this new reality and embrace it? No company can escape the truths of the new work environment. Diversity, in every sense of the word, is abundant. Not only do we have many generations in the workforce, workforce demographics are shifting. These new workers want to gain skills, which can transport them across many industries and opportunities in their career. For this future workforce, your company is a stopping point, not a destination. Add to this new dynamic the increasing power of social media, technology advances and societal complexity. The job of HR and management becomes extremely daunting. So how do you build leadership capacity, loyalty and competitiveness in this increasingly interconnected world?


In the early days of globalization, poor leadership could go unnoticed. Communication was not what it is today, and glitches were expected. Today, poor leadership resonates across oceans in minutes, and hinders the ability of a company to retain employees and connect with global markets. Is your company not yet ‘international?’ Just wait. Companies are becoming global overnight through acquisitions and joint ventures. Many leaders are ill-prepared for the challenges of leading in these new environments and, as a result, make costly mistakes. Often companies assume that a top leader in their domestic country will be a top talent leader anywhere in the world. Research has repeatedly shown this to be untrue. How do you ensure you are putting the right leaders in global roles to build your brand? And what are their defining characteristics? These were the fundamental questions we set out to answer in our research (see overleaf). Nazneen Razi, Rob Cooke, Peter Barge and I wanted to determine what made a global leader successful, and how to nurture these attributes. Let’s face it, global leadership is a complex job, there’s a high degree of uncertainty in any scenario.


We discovered five behavioural dimensions of successful global leaders – whom we call transglobal leaders – because they can operate with ease and grace anywhere in the world. The five behavioural dimensions are:


Uncertainty resilience Dealing with complexity and difference

These leaders can function very effectively in highly unclear situations and do not become paralysed. They even enjoy seeking out diverse perspectives.


Team connectivity Integrating across boundaries

They focus on the success of the teams and not necessarily on their own hierarchy. They create innovation teams, support the teams, and disband them when the goal is accomplished.


Pragmatic flexibility Adapting to other cultures

These leaders will carefully expand their cultural values to get the job done. They operate with high integrity while respecting local societal needs.


Perceptive responsiveness Acting on intuition and fact

They anticipate the changing needs of customers and other key stakeholders. They’re attuned to the differences between people, and value those differences rather than trying to impose a ‘one size fits all’ approach.


Talent orientation Achieving results through others

These leaders see their role as personally focused on the development of others. They understand that the organization’s success ultimately rests with the talent they develop over time. The leaders who demonstrated these behavioural dimensions built strong, growing organizations in varied locations around the world. Impressive indeed. Q1 2017 Dialogue




First, before assigning a leader to a global role – whether leading an offshore team or relocating to a new country – conduct a thorough assessment of their capabilities against the Transglobal Leadership Dimensions. This resource, and other tools and insights, can be found in our book,Winning with Transglobal Leadership: How to Find and Develop Top Global Talent to Build WorldClass Organizations.

Step 2 Assess families

Step 1 Coach appropriately

Numerous Fortune 500 companies are using the Transglobal Leadership (TGL) Assessment Survey to get a pulse on strengths and development areas for those being considered for global assignments. The results will create a framework for open discussion, and help you determine if the role is right for them. And if it is, provide coaching to help them: Develop a personal action plan for success. Remember no one will embody all these dimensions to their fullest, but an understanding of strengths will also identify gaps to work on If feasible, conduct a two- or three-day development experience where these new global leaders can work through some of the issues and challenges together. This is a very powerful exercise to learn how they will react as they encounter new ways of thinking and working Provide a group of peer coaches to help them work through the challenges they’ll undoubtedly experience in the first 90 days of their new assignments. Usually these peer-coaching groups are supported by a master coach who can guide the discussions Check in at the 90- and 120-day marks to make sure they are on track for success As part of their assignment, ensure they develop a local successor to take their role when their ‘tour of duty’ is up Be sure to track the experiences and lessons from these leaders, as you continue to build your training and shape your global presence Dialogue Q1 2017

Conduct a similar assessment of the employee’s significant other. Often, the partners and family members are ill-equipped to deal with the isolation of a global assignment. This is one of the most frequent causes of a leader ‘flaming out’ on the assignment, according to industry mobility experts and search firms. Our experience has shown that about 25% of the reported failed global assignments are due to domestic issues. The head of one company’s global sales office wanted to move offshore to be closer to key global customers. I was coaching this leader at the time and exploring the options and challenges for him and his family. He assured me that his wife was excited about a global move. But, when I looked deeper into the situation, I found that his wife had never moved out of the neighbourhood where she grew up. Needless to say, neither of them was prepared to relocate. Had we not explored this issue and taken proactive steps, the company would probably have had another disaster on its hands.

Step 3 Expand talent

Develop a pipeline of talent around the world. Make it your business to know local talent and identify those that have the aptitude for a global role. Once the group is identified, you can do a formal assessment like the TGL Survey to help solidify strengths and growth areas.



about the research

We identified and surveyed 150 individuals from Fortune 200 companies who had successfully transcended economic turbulence and spanned numerous cultures and geographies Our field is littered with global competency models, with many derived from observation and interviews. But none of them had been correlated to business outcomes. We developed a survey based on an extensive literature search, painstakingly refined based on our experience. We identified and surveyed 150 individuals from Fortune 200 companies who had successfully transcended economic turbulence and spanned numerous cultures and geographies. We analysed the results, then conducted extensive interviews to understand exactly what these leaders did to make them successful. Then we compared them to the leaders in the Human Synergistics database of more than 5,000 leaders. This database was used because it represented global leaders and included senior organization leaders.

your company is seen in the eyes of offshore employees and take some action. Typically, offshore employees feel less valued and empowered than those who hail from the home company headquarters

Step 5 Understand cultures

Is your culture open to new ideas? Are you? Having an inclusive culture is essential to capturing the intellectual value of your workforce, no matter where they are in the world. Here’s where you start:

Step 4 Improve homecomings

Have a clear repatriation plan for those who took on offshore roles or led global teams from their home country. Retention rates for great global talent are low. The reason often cited is that the skills they learned are not valued by the company – they get stuck in jobs in their home country that do not leverage their considerable global experience. Here are some things you should do to leverage their expertise:

Know where you are creating roadblocks to inclusive thoughts and innovative ideas. Do not assume your current culture is open. Get the facts Create a roadmap to transform your culture if your assessment is not what you hoped it would be Leverage your transglobal leaders to help create a more inclusive culture

Use transglobal leaders as mentors to your pipeline of aspiring global leaders Put them on special teams to assess talent in emerging global arenas where you want to expand your footprint Gain an honest perspective from them of how

Having an inclusive culture is essential to capturing the intellectual value of your workforce

If you follow these steps you will build a strong global mindset into the DNA of your company. — Dr Linda Sharkey is a keynote speaker, and specializes in leadership development, coaching, and cultural transformation Q1 2017 Dialogue



The Fifa fixer Nothing fazes Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, the South African businesswoman appointed to clean up football’s global governing body, Fifa


Ben Walker photography

Bridget Corke

Dialogue Q1 2017

How do you solve a problem like Sepp Blatter? The first step is to find someone who really, passionately wants to fix it. The world’s favourite sport is in a mess. A series of scandals have plunged football’s global governing body, Fifa, into crisis. Several heads have rolled – including that of Blatter himself, the once-untouchable president of the association of 17 years standing. South African businesswoman Sindi MabasoKoyana, the recently appointed chair of Fifa’s powerful audit committee, is no football fan. But she has good reason for taking on what some might consider an impossible job. “My nineyear-old son, who loves soccer, said I should,” she tells Dialogue. “He said, ‘Mummy, yeah go for it, then I can be the football player I want to be.’” As a mother, she cares deeply that her would-be footballer son will one day be able to enjoy his chosen sport under the auspices of a clean, well-regulated umbrella body that attracts respect, not censure. But there’s more to Mabaso-Koyana’s motives than family ties. “Yes my son and husband love football,” she says. “And that’s the softer element to it. But there are hardcore issues as well. Beyond football, there is a lot that an organization like Fifa can do in developing young lives, young communities. As a woman who is passionate about development, I am passionate, too, about education.” And therein lies a tale, for it was schooling – early and prolonged – that helped this extraordinary woman scale the slippery South African cliff to success. Raised in hardship by a lone parent during the Apartheid-era, MabasoKoyana had it drummed into her from an early age how education would provide her only route out, and up. She lived in Umlazi, a township near Durban. Her mother worked as a general labourer in a local hospital – “it was the only job she ever had” – and the family eked out an existence in circumstances that were forever in flux. “For the greater part of my young life we never had a

home of our own,” she recalls. “We were at the mercy and grace of the family and friends that would accommodate us. But my mother always ground into us that we should break through our circumstances and make a better life, through a culture of hard work. She was clear that education would be the most important thing in our lives – the father we never had.” Given that under Apartheid it was almost impossible for black people to be professionally successful in the conventional sense of the phrase, did she ever question whether her mother’s ambitions for her were realistic? “Her ambition for me was probably to go into one of the professions that were generally accepted as opportunities for black people: teaching, nursing, more on the civil side of things, the caring professions,” she says. “You were never expected to go into roles like accounting.” At school, she was a virtually autodidactic mathematician, aided and abetted by her older brother. “He was an introvert who liked maths and science – he was the nerd of the two of us – and I have continued to give him gratitude because he ground maths into me,” she says. “I was never allowed to do maths in higher grade, because I was black and I was a girl – so there was no way. But I have a rebellious streak – the minute someone says that I can’t do something, I go for it, I go into hiding and make sure I get it right and then come out and show that I can. “The only white teacher in the school refused to teach me maths at higher grade, and when I insisted he did he chucked me out of the class! Even in standard-grade maths he refused to teach me. He told me, ‘You must walk out of this classroom when I walk into it because you are challenging me.’ But my brother was ahead of me, and he helped me teach myself.” By the time Mabaso-Koyana completed her schooling in the early 1980s, the first flush of glasnost was seeping under the foundations of

the country’s Apartheid system. “The country had come a long way by then,” she says. “Some political groundwork had been done. Some people had gone ahead of us. There was a feeling that ‘now we can get educated’.” But this was still a bitterly divided, racially segregated nation. When Mabaso-Koyana attended university in 1986, it was the first year that black students were allowed to share residence on campus with whites. What was that like? “Integration wasn’t easy,” she says. “Even in the dining halls we would always sit in a segregated manner.” That notwithstanding, the very fact that halls were mixed at all was unpopular with many whites. “A number of white people did not come back after the first term break at Easter,” recalls Mabaso-Koyana. “They went into digs – outside accommodation around the campus. I remember waiting to use the telephone booth, and someone had left the door open, and I overheard her telling her mother – ‘I am not coming back here next term because I have to share even the telephone booths – the shower rooms! – with black people.’ When she finished her call, she banged the booth door in front of me.” It is testament to Mabaso-Koyana’s personal resolve that she didn’t allow experiences like that to push her off course. The early words of her mother still ringing in her ears, she pushed on, determined to exploit the opportunity the university had given her. “I just told myself to

I have a rebellious streak – the minute someone says that I can’t do something, I go for it remember why I had come to this institution, rather than allow those kind of incidents to get to me,” she says. There was a language barrier too – no longer would she be able to ask her teachers to translate into her native Zulu. “Back at school, even though the teacher taught business, economics and accounting in English, I was able to say to them in my vernacular: ‘Can you explain that for me in my language?’ When I went to university, one of the culture shocks was that I could no longer say to someone, ‘Can you slowly take me through that term?’” Determined to overcome the twin hurdles of linguistic and racial isolation, she made a nuisance of herself, imposing on tutors who would otherwise have enjoyed a free period. “Most students would walk into a tutorial, pick up the answer book and leave,” she recalls. “I would stay throughout the two hours of my tutorial going through it step by step. “Years later, when I was a professional businesswoman, I bumped into my tutor at the airport. I said: ‘Michelle do you remember me?’


She looked at me and said, ‘Sindi, how could I forget you? You held me captive for two hours every tutorial!’” Mabaso-Koyana credits her chutzpah as her strength, but it was interpreted by her family as frivolousness. “I’m a very fun-filled person,” she says. “But my family had a bias and a prejudice that I did not come across as serious – they never expected me to walk the journey that I walked.” As it was, her sense of humour and easy manner proved crucial tools in helping her pick her way to the top. “I am an extrovert naturally and I am very comfortable in building relationships,” she says. “I am very fortunate that I am not generally a shy person. I can engage at all levels and statuses. When I have to engage with very senior people I’m very comfortable in that – which is what I do when I sit on boards.” Now her boldness will be put to the ultimate test. It is hard to overestimate the task at hand. In 2015, US government investigators from the FBI and Inland Revenue Service disclosed cases of corruption by Fifa officials and their surrogates. Some 14 people were indicted, most memorably in a dawn raid in Zurich, when seven officials were arrested in their hotel rooms ahead of a Fifa Congress. What makes Mabaso-Koyana think she is the right person to clean the place up? “As you have heard, I always enjoy a challenge!” she says. The fact that most would fight shy of that challenge is precisely what attracts her to it: “My mother said, ‘You prefer to take the uncharted routes’ – and that has really defined me. If you ask me to do something where there is already a plethora of people following that journey, chances are I will say, ‘no’.” She seems at once remarkably undaunted by the task and astutely aware of its Herculean scale, comparing it, not unfairly perhaps, to the dismantling of Apartheid. “How do you eat an elephant? By eating it bit by bit,” she says. “The first step has to be taken, and that means being very clear about the ‘why?’. It is important to have vision. Think of how Mandela had the vision of a non-racial society in South Africa. Are we there yet? No, we are not, but it’s a journey. Will I change Fifa in my time as audit chair? They [audit chairmanships] are limited terms. That means it would be egotistic of me to think that I will be the one to deliver a clean slate. But I can be one of the people in the journey that takes us there.” As her personality dictates that she finds positives in the most adverse circumstances, it should come as no surprise that she credits her status as a football novice as yet another advantage. “It will put me in great stead not to be a football boffin,” she says. “It is going to be very important to keep my independence, by remaining a technocrat in this particular game.” In many ways, she has the stripes. Blooded


in public sector finance early in her career (she was appointed former chief financial officer of state-owned utility Transnet in 2001) she has the credentials to tackle mismanagement in gigantic organizations, whether they be governmentowned or otherwise. She says Fifa is more like running a country than a business. “Some jurisdictions and nations do not have the GDP that Fifa commands,” she says. “I was excited to be invited into the organization – they might not be a public agency in the statutory sense, but they are an entity with huge public interest. They were self-regulated – they felt they could do whatever they wanted. But really, they cannot.”

We are dealing with human beings here – I need the buy-in that will make my changes sustainable She has learned, over the years, to extend her role beyond that of a technocrat, to consider the corporate lives of organizations, their general management as well as their financial processes: “I have set my foot in Fifa as technocrat but, given my leadership experience, having sat on boards and run businesses, I can see that there are other touch points where I can make a difference.” So where will she draw the line between auditor and adviser? “When I say to Fifa that international audit committees should be run in this manner, then I am providing advice,” she says, evenly. “The audit committee has been given a very critical role. I come from a profession that is governed by very clear rules, a very clear code of conduct. We are governed by international auditing standards. That assists me. Instead of giving people my opinion, I give people the legislation.” So she will be a technocrat first and foremost? “There will be an element of going back to [accounting] basics,” she admits. “But we are dealing with human beings here, so there is also an element of getting the buy-in that will make my changes sustainable. I learned early in my career that you have to have a collaborative approach to leadership if you want it to succeed – get that buy-in, and walk with people.” After Blatter’s high-profile departure, Fifa elected a new president, Gianni Infantino. Following a controversial vote by Fifa Congress to give the Fifa Council the right to fire the head of the audit and compliance committee, the committee’s then-chair, Domenico Scala, resigned in protest. Mabaso-Koyana, his thendeputy, made the step up. What does she make of Infantino? There’s a pause, and then: “All I can say at this stage is that one has to be optimistic.” It’s an outlook on life that has served her well so far. Q1 2017 Dialogue

The sharpest writing worldwide on global management and leadership Dialogue is a quarterly business journal for senior managers and leaders across the world, covering global business issues. It is distributed in print and digital formats. We can offer advertising, sponsorship and collaboration opportunities on special projects designed for your brand. Contact us for more information Niki Mullin, Business Development Manager | niki.mullin@lidpublishing.com |

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26/10/2016 11:24 11/05/2016 11:39



kate cooper

Humour is powerful. We need to understand more about it

The laughter dividend Kate Cooper is head of applied research and policy at the Institute of Leadership & Management

shared set of values, and increased levels of Freud found humour of academic interest trust. The ubiquitous importance of a sense over a century ago. But it wasn’t until the of humour in many areas of life suggests 1980s that PB Malone and others focused on that those using it are considered more humour’s relationship to leadership. Much approachable, understanding and more evidence emerged to suggest that humour, sought-after for relationships. when used appropriately, has the power to Research suggests that the positive enhance employee wellbeing. use of humour can act as a buffer against Humour is a multifaceted concept. negative effects of workplace stress – a And, because of its intrinsically subjective coping mechanism helping to promote nature, it is hard to define. Humour can, relaxation, relieve tension and manage of course, provoke both positive and disappointments, thus having an important negative feelings in others – the distinction role in mental health and wellbeing. We are is critical. Positive humour has the power all familiar with difficult or stressful social to unite employees and strengthen the leader-follower relationship, while negative situations that have been alleviated by a humorous interjection. humour can erode status-based relations The key here is the ‘successful’ use and alienate people. Leaders have a range of humour – humour that elicits positive of types of humour available to them. feelings. Positive humour has the power Affiliative humour is non-hostile and funny to reduce social distance between a leader behaviour. Humour used as a positive and follower, increase coping mechanism employee motivation to reduce stress may and identification be considered selfPossessing a sense with the organization, enhancing. Aggressive of humour is often and improve a range humour reduces others’ considered essential – of organizational status and increases outcomes. Negative anxiety. Self-defeating but how one measures forms of humour can humour can be used to the existence of such harm the leaderlower the leader’s status a personality trait follower relationship as and gain acceptance. is problematic well as be detrimental Possessing a sense to performance. A of humour is often leader may try to considered essential – but how one measures the existence of such use humour as a positive tool, but fail to use it appropriately, or differentially a personality trait is problematic. Eysenck affect different members of the team. For proposed three perspectives for measuring example, newer employees may appreciate humour: the quantitative – how often it far more than longer-term employees. something is funny; the productive – the Humour is most successful in leaders who extent to which something is funny; and are authentic and have sensitivity to the the conformist – how widely shared is the different ways in which team members appreciation of the humour. may take it. Thus, it should be seen as Humour undoubtedly has a role one tool alongside a range of others that in enhancing communication and leaders have at their disposal to build strong understanding between leaders and relationships with their teams, elevating colleagues. It can relieve tense situations, morale and performance. communicate a shared understanding and Laughter inspired by an authentic leader facilitate the transfer of information. It is is more likely to be affiliative and selfalso able to relieve frustration and alleviate enhancing. Aggressive humour suggests a boredom – jokes about shared experiences leader with lower standards of integrity. But are an important element of office folklore self-defeating humour may be exactly that and contribute to team cohesion. – undermining confidence and acceptance Humour can make a leader more of the leader who uses it. likeable – laughing with someone implies a Q1 2017 Dialogue



The female quota fallacy Think quotas are the key to getting women into leadership roles? Think again, writes Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj Gender diversity in leadership is as big an issue as ever. Some might point to significant strides in women achieving political leadership – with Angela Merkel in Germany and Theresa May in the UK. At the time of writing, Hillary Clinton was leading opinion polls to become president of the most powerful nation on Earth. Others may argue the time has never been better for women aspiring to leadership roles in business. A deeper look at the profile of women in leadership roles, however, gives a very fragmented picture. The typical question clients pose has moved away from the ‘why does gender diversity matter?’ to ‘how do we achieve gender diversity and retain female talent?’. Organizations fall into the trap of using a ‘silver bullet’ approach, focusing on one or two areas: such as setting quotas or targets and flexible-working policies. They assume that if these are addressed, the challenges of getting more women into leadership will be solved. In reality, the process is far more complex and nuanced, and requires a series of connected activities combining policy, measurements and interventions to achieve sustainable behavioural change across an organization. The Boardwalk Diversity DNA Matrix (below) has been created as a result of




Stretch opportunities

Tracking and measures


Networking opportunities




Many territories in the West Indies beat the baseline in public sector leadership Antigua and Barbuda 69% The Bahamas 52% Barbados 50% Dominica 47% Grenada 86% Jamaica 63% St Kitts and Nevis 32% St Lucia 30% St Vincent and the Grenadines 58% Trinidad and Tobago 58% african advancement

Continent’s commonwealth nations that beat the baseline on female cabinet members Rwanda 35% Ghana 30% Kenya 33% South Africa 43% Uganda 37% Tanzania 45% private grief

Boardwalk Diversity DNA Matrix

Critical mass of diverse role models

Dialogue Q1 2017


Championing opportunities

caribbean queens


Number of commonwealth nations that beat the 30% baseline for women board members of listed companies

analysis of good practice across 53 countries, examining both national policy and organizationwide practice to understand what really works in recruiting, retaining and promoting female talent. The matrix identified six key areas organizations need to focus on to create an inclusive culture and added value from a diverse workforce. For the last decade, quotas have dominated discussions around leadership positions for women. The emotive nature of these discussions often leads to a mistaken assumption that quotas are the most effective means of achieving diversity in leadership. The dominant view has been that quotas will intrinsically breed attitudinal shifts across different sectors, resulting in the proliferation of more genderbalanced boards across all sectors. Our research on women in leadership across the 53 Commonwealth countries demonstrates this is not the case. In fact, the value of quotas as a silver bullet is strongly challenged. The data clearly demonstrates that there is no correlation between quotas and success in achieving balanced gender leadership. The research measured women appointed to leadership positions across the private, political and public sectors. The internationally accepted baseline is 30%, the point at which a minority group will make an impact – challenging groupthink and normalized behaviour. Our research reveals which countries have reached or exceeded the 30% baseline, and in which sectors. Analysis of the data demonstrates that the successful sectors and countries do not share a common policy – including the imposition of quotas – and therefore we cannot assume success lies in the implementation of legally imposed quotas with penalties for noncompliance. The countries with clear policies on quotas are represented in the table opposite. The table shows the broad range of legislation and voluntary procedures across different countries, reinforcing the point that there is no single remedy for the issue. Countries with hard rules on quotas have struggled with achieving targets. For example, in the case of India the initial deadline had to be pushed back as the targets were not reached, with similar experiences in South Africa. If we look at the countries that have successfully achieved the 30% benchmark, there are alternative approaches that warrant greater attention. One of the most surprising results in this research is the prevalence of women in leadership positions in the public sector across the Caribbean (see above left). In terms of gender profile, women in the Caribbean are highly



s tat u s o f c o u n t r i e s – d e c 2016

Legislation regarding quotas

Voluntary or self-regulated targets



Listed companies transparency around diversity policies and the proportion of women in senior leadership roles


Legislation with targets (minimum 40% men, 40% women) for boards of public, state and certain financial institutions

Rules on compliance or exchange for companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange for companies to disclose policies and targets for female directors


2012 Companies Bill with listed companies N/A to have at least one female director



Voluntary target of 24% to be achieved by 2017



Corporate Governance Code emphasizes diversity for new board members


30% quota for women on boards and senior leadership of listed companies with more than 250 employees


new zealand


Gender composition of the board must be disclosed in annual reports and review of impact of diversity policy



Code of Corporate Governance stipulates selection of directors needs to account for gender and age range



Launch of register to facilitate the advancement of women into senior leadership roles and board appointments

south africa

Legislation with a target of 50% female representation


united kingdom


Government set voluntary targets of 25% – achieved in 2015

educated, with more girls than boys in education and higher attainment levels. The impact of a highly educated section of the female workforce has created a strong pipeline of talent for the public sector. The public sector is regarded as a more stable working environment, along with better conditions and pay. Yet despite their considerable academic success, there is still gender disparity in pay, with women earning less than their male counterparts, and more women seeking jobs in the private sector. In some countries, more than 70% of leadership positions in the public sector are held by women. But, by contrast, only two states (Barbados and Dominica) have over 30% of board positions in the private sector held by women. The education profile of women creates a strong pool of talent for recruitment. A training programme for high-potential women in the public sector was established to provide opportunities for leadership development along with collaborating with the private sector in solving real-life challenges. The interactive nature of the training programme created the opportunities to build transformational leadership skills to support working with diverse teams and create truly innovative approaches to improve the quality of life for people. The Diversity DNA Matrix draws together the six key areas organizations can address to be better prepared for diversity and inclusion. Each of the areas are interlocking to create greater

The data clearly demonstrates that there is no correlation between quotas and success in achieving balanced gender leadership

Private sector refers to women who are appointed as board members or hold C-suite positions in listed companies. Political sector appointments cover women who hold ministerial positions; either in the cabinet or deputy-cabinet. Public sector is split between civil service appointments; permanent secretaries and deputy permanent secretaries along with directors or heads of departments and board appointments of public sector organizations (also referred to as state-owned enterprises)

transparency around measures and progress, along with specific interventions to create promotion opportunities for women, using networking opportunities to identify talent to create championing opportunities. Policies to create more flexible working conditions also need to address how line managers implement policies in a fair and consistent manner – and that means addressing bias, both conscious and unconscious. Stretch roles create the antidote to the stickyfloor syndrome that impedes female leadership progression. When clients apply the Diversity DNA Matrix they are able to adapt each of the areas to what already exists in the organization, and this provides a powerful starting point. This approach is more likely to achieve success – because organizations do not have to react to quotas as a knee-jerk reaction that is likely to be accompanied by resentment and resistance. Building a diverse team is the first step for many organizations. The next, more challenging goal is to create an inclusive culture. Transformational leaders have the skills to encompass diversity and mobilize the wide range of talent in their teams, yielding greater financial returns and improved leadership potential across the organization. — Dr Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj is chief executive of Boardwalk Leadership, a training and research consultancy with global reach, specializing in gender diversity and inclusion Q1 2017 Dialogue



Six daily questions Quiz yourself every day of the week writing

Marshall Goldsmith illustration

Thomas Hedger

Dialogue Q1 2017

Every day, I get the same phone call. The voice on the other end asks me a series of questions: did I do my best to be happy that day? Set goals? Make progress on those goals? I came up with these and some 40 other questions myself, a brief selftest on my life’s main priorities. My caller offers no judgment, just listens politely and perhaps offers a few general words of encouragement before hanging up. This process, which I call the Daily Questions, keeps me focused on becoming a happier, healthier person. It provides discipline I sorely need in my busy working life as an executive coach, teacher and speaker, which involves travelling 180 days out of the year to countries all over the globe.

As I argue in my latest book, authored with Mark Reiter, Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be, in every waking hour we are being triggered by people, events, and circumstances that have the potential to change us. The Daily Questions provide an antidote to that chaos. The process appears to be almost robotically simple: in effect, I’m taking a test I wrote, to which I already know the answers. But after years of dedication to this process, I now hold the counterintuitive belief that the Daily Questions are in fact a very tough test, one of the hardest we’ll ever take. To understand why, you first need to grasp a fundamental truth about human behaviour.


for winning leaders Changing it is hard. Very hard. I like to say that behavioural change is just about the hardest thing for sentient human beings to accomplish. As an object lesson, think about a change you’d like to make. Perhaps you want to be more patient, or a better listener, for example. Now, think about how long you’ve been trying to make that change. I’m going to hazard a couple of bets. My first wager is that the change is something important to you – otherwise, why would you bother to change it? My second punt is that you’ve been trying for a long time – that you’d probably measure that time in months or years rather than days or weeks. At this point you might be feeling a twinge – maybe even a stab – of regret, thinking

The questions create awareness, which in turn sparks change

about that talent you never used, that weight you never lost, or that friend you didn’t have time to listen to. The upshot is this: our behaviours matter. Perhaps they matter more than our achievements. We don’t live with our promotions and university degrees every day, but we do live with our choice to be better people. The Daily Questions are so hard because, if we answer them honestly, they force us to face those choices. Because we wrote the questions ourselves, we can’t blame some outside entity for imposing goals that don’t really matter to us. Because we are the only ones responsible for coming up with the right answers, we can’t say we didn’t know what we were supposed to do. Q1 2017 Dialogue



The power of active questions

What you want to accomplish by asking these questions is not particularly important to me. That is up to you! The way you phrase these questions is important. I have found that active questions are far more helpful than passive ones. I learned about the power of active questions from my daughter Dr Kelly Goldsmith, who has a PhD from Yale University in behavioural marketing, and teaches at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Kelly and I are both fascinated with employee engagement, the term used in management circles to describe a state of active

Our behaviours matter. Perhaps they matter more than our achievements. We don’t live with our university degrees every day involvement in work that you might liken to an athlete being ‘in the zone’. Kelly’s key insight was this: if companies want their employees to be engaged, they should avoid handing out the typical surveys that ask workers what their bosses and managers can do to improve. These surveys aren’t bad. They provide companies with many valuable suggestions. But they are diagnostic, not curative. They do nothing to put employees in an engaged mindset. Only the employees themselves can do that – and a good way to remind them is to ask active questions about their working lives. For example, instead of asking the passive, “Were

you happy today?” (a question that invariably produces a laundry list of complaints), Kelly suggested asking an active question: “Did you do your best to be happy today?” The ball is now in the employee’s court. They have to evaluate and take responsibility for their own actions. This logic dovetailed with my own Daily Questions process. Feeling that my personal questions were static and uninspiring, I tweaked several of them to reflect Kelly’s active formulation. For example, I changed a few of my questions as follows: From “did I set clear goals” to “did I do my best to set clear goals?” From “how happy was I?” to “did I do my best to be happy?” From “did I avoid trying to prove I was right when it wasn’t worth it?” to “did I do my best to try to avoid proving I was right when it wasn’t worth it?”

Suddenly, I wasn’t being asked how well I performed, but rather how much I tried. The distinction is meaningful because in my original version, if I wasn’t happy, or I overate during the day, I could always blame it on some factor outside of myself. I could tell myself I wasn’t happy because the airline kept me on the tarmac for three hours (the airline was responsible for my happiness). Or I overate because a client took me to his favourite barbecue joint where the food was abundant, calorific and irresistible (my client – or was it the restaurant? – was responsible for controlling my appetite). Adding the words “did I do my best” injected the element of personal ownership,

THE POWER OF QUESTIONS By asking themselves six simple questions at the end of each day, thousands of people have benefited from a marked improvement in most areas

1 2

3 4



of participants reported improvement in all six areas

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improved on at least four items


Did I do my best to find meaning today? Did I do my best to be happy today?

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today?



improved on at least one item



didn’t change on any items

Did I do my best to build positive relationships today? Did I do my best to be engaged today?

6 3


got worse on one or more items



got worse on all six items

Sample size – 4,885


of responsibility into my Q&A process. After a few weeks using this checklist, I noticed an unintended consequence. Active questions themselves didn’t merely elicit an answer. They created a different level of engagement with my goals. To see if I was trending positively – actually making progress – I had to measure on a relative scale, comparing the most recent day’s effort with previous days. I chose to grade myself on a one-to-ten scale, with ten being the best score. If I scored low on “did I do my best to be happy?” I had only myself to blame. We may not hit our goals every time, but there’s no excuse for not trying. Anyone can try.

The survey

At the moment, I have 43 daily questions. There is no correct number. It’s a personal choice, a function of how many issues you want to work on. Some of my coaching clients have only three or four questions. My list is 43 questions deep because I need a lot of help (obviously), but also because I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve had years to deal with some of the broad interpersonal issues that seem like obvious targets for people just starting out. If you’re not sure what to start with, I recommend the questions I use in my online survey (see below). These questions cover the basic tenets of employee engagement, but they work well in other areas of life as well. They are: 1 Did I do my best to set clear goals today? 2 Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today? 3 Did I do my best to find meaning today? 4 Did I do my best to be happy today? 5 Did I do my best to build positive relationships today? 6 Did I do my best to be engaged today?

If you take the online test, we follow up after ten days and essentially ask, “How’d you do? Did you improve?” So far 4,885 people have participated from all over the world. The results have been overwhelmingly positive (see graphic, left). Given people’s demonstrable reluctance to change at all, this study shows that active self-questioning can trigger a new way of


interacting with our world. Active questions reveal where we are trying and where we are giving up. In doing so, they sharpen our sense of what we can actually change. We gain a sense of control and responsibility instead of victimhood. At the end of the survey, participants have room to write comments about how the survey affected them. Over time, I have noticed that certain themes emerge in this section. The questions create awareness, which in turn sparks change. As one participant wrote, “After a few days, when I knew I would be answering the survey later in the day, I attempted to shape my day and become more purposeful in my interactions with others and more thoughtful about how I spent my time.” Others echoed this thought. “During the study I became far more conscious of setting daily goals, writing them down on my home office whiteboard – where they were visible – and checking in at end of day to see what I accomplished,” another participant said. “I will keep this practice going.” The mindfulness that the questions provide even helped some of them through tough times. “Right before the start of this study – and for the duration – I was going through a very stressful and disheartening period in both my personal and professional life,” said another person. “By being mindful of these questions each day – even if I didn’t have the initial positive or motivated attitude to begin with – it always grew and improved throughout the day. It really created a positive impact and allowed

Active self-questioning can trigger a new way of interacting with our world. They sharpen our sense of what we can actually change me to find strength and enthusiasm to make my days worthwhile, even if I initially did not emotionally feel up to it.” In my years of answering Daily Questions, I have never yet had a perfect day. A very few have come close, but far, far more often I must report that I failed somehow. That can be tough to face, but I believe it’s well worth trying to come close to my goals, even if I don’t always meet them. The effort alone makes my days worthwhile. And when I do succeed, after weeks or months of persistently asking the same question, it’s a success to truly value. — Dr Marshall Goldsmith is a multiple awardwinning business educator and coach. If you would like to participate in his survey, email him at marshall@marshallgoldsmith.com Q1 2017 Dialogue



Captain Fantastic: From military man to maestro Leadership coaching makes a good career move for those that have excelled in the forces, writes RDML Patrick Hall

I was a military man. Now I work for an oil and gas company. One question I get all the time when I give speeches is “what was it like to change from being a rear admiral to a leadership expert in the business world?” My answer usually ranges from “easy” to “challenging” – depending on the context. But there are many similarities between leading in the military and leading in the oil and gas industry.

My military career

I started out as a university engineering student who had a passion to learn to fly. So, when I graduated, I entered the US Navy’s flight school to see where it led. Thirty-two years later I left the navy having learned to be a fighter pilot, lead a squadron of fighter pilots and the support team, train as an engineering officer on a navy nuclear power-plant, captain a supply ship, captain a nuclearpowered aircraft carrier and command an entire US Navy Strike Group with one aircraft carrier, two cruisers, six guidedmissile destroyers, four fast frigates and nine aircraft squadrons. In my last command, I had 7,000 people reporting to me. Pretty impressive stuff for a guy who just wanted to learn to fly! Along the way, I succeeded sometimes and failed at other times. But most importantly, I learned from all these experiences. The two biggest lessons I learned are that people are our most important asset – no matter what line of work or industry you are in; and that you can and must continue to learn Dialogue Q1 2017

and evolve if you want to continue to be a successful leader.

The transition

As I began to plan my transition strategy from the military, one of my direct reports from my aircraft carrier tour called to ask me to support a tour of my ship for his boss – a normal request. This chance encounter gave me some insight into a couple of oil and gas business leaders who really impressed me. At that time, I had already given tours to hundreds of US and foreign senior executives, government officials and university administrators. I had been

I had 7,000 people reporting to me. Pretty impressive stuff for a guy who just wanted to learn to fly! both impressed and dismayed with the quality of these people. But these two people were different. I watched them interact with my sailors in ways that I would expect a good senior naval officer to interact: engaging, curious and showing concern for the sailor and the job he was doing. I had to learn more about these two. Further discussion determined they had grown up in their industry, much like l had in mine, and we had similar leadership experiences and understanding of people, leadership, safety and mission

accomplishment. I was intrigued by them, and they were learning about me and my organization. The result of these discussions was an offer to join the oil and gas industry and teach, coach and mentor leaders in the industry. It was not exactly where I had expected to land, but I was interested. And, thanks to my desire to never stop learning, I was committed.

Beating stereotypes

How was the transition? Great, once I got around the stereotypes many people have of the ex-military – that we are demanding, disciplined, order-givers that look to build hierarchies. During one of my leadership development programmes, one of the participants said: “You don’t understand, you came from an organization where you just gave orders and people just did what you told them.” This could not be further from the truth. I explained that I came from an organization that had a young workforce (similar to the questioner’s) with a much higher turnover rate and an ability to challenge leaders. The class quickly learned that the leadership techniques they had seen in the older military movies were not the way our US military leads today. The issue common to the oil and naval sectors is how you motivate young people today while allowing them to develop the experience that will keep them safe in a dangerous industry. (It transpired that the questioner had a different experience with a family


member who was still struggling to adapt outside the military).

My leadership approach

What I deliver is close and measured observation of the status quo, probing questions and an attempt to understand the culture before any changes are recommended or acted upon. This is not exactly what most people expected. For example, we had a situation where one particular part of the company was not promoting people to senior positions at the same rate as other parts of the company. Observing, analysing and then bringing this to the attention of senior leaders allowed changes to be made which created more opportunity for upward movement. The original situation was allowed to develop because it is a highly technical and complex part of the company

that required extensive additional training and experience in both field and office settings to understand all the challenges. This expertise took years to develop and, therefore, limited other opportunities. Because they were technical experts they tended to deliver answers to others in the organization in technical terms without taking the time to explain and educate others. This approach developed an isolated technical organization that didn’t support opportunities outside its boundaries and therefore limited their people’s opportunity in other parts of the corporation. Once the organization understood the primary drivers for limited opportunity, the solution became much clearer.

The bottom line

My military background gives me a

different perspective on many common problems in the oil and gas industry. I’ve developed an interest in leadership development and diversity, and how both can be improved. Based on all this, my integration into the industry went very well, and I have credibility when I talk about high-reliability organizations, leadership development, organizational dynamics and diversity. I have experience in running large organizations. My advice to those looking to transition successfully from any industry to another is to be aware that the changes required will be mostly on your side. If you were successful before and bring that success with you, you will still have to understand and adapt to the new culture and norms in your new situation to be successful. The most dangerous transition is the one you don’t recognize. — RDML Patrick D Hall has more than 4,000 flight hours in nine different military aircraft and has logged more than 900 carrierarrested landings. His personal awards include Defense Superior Service medals, Legion of Merit medals, and a Bronze Star. He is senior leadership adviser at Chevron

Discovery path Learn more... about moving from the military www.bit.ly/ ddpmilitary



The art of first-time leadership

Becoming a new leader isn’t easy. But these key steps can make the process smoother, writes Stephen Archer Over the past few months, here in the UK, we have welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May, and England football manager Sam Allardyce. Allardyce, regrettably for him, didn’t last long. Leaders at all levels need to ensure they make the best first impression. Becoming a business leader for the first time can be challenging, even for the most confident person. It can take a huge leap of faith, and can be a complete change in the way that someone is used to working. While it can be a time for celebration, it’s also a time for reflection


1 in 3

Employees don’t trust their employer

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on how best to approach the new role. First impressions count and, during the early weeks of any leadership, people will be watching. New leaders need to convince those that put them there that they made the right choice, and, more importantly, to convince their workforce that they are the right person for the job. This is even more important in today’s business world, as a recent report suggests that there is a large trust divide between leaders and the people who work for them. Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer highlights that one in three people don’t trust their employer, and two-thirds feel that chief executives are too focused on short-term performance (see below left). Edelman suggests that, as a result,

2 in 3

Employees feel that chief executives are too focused on short-term performance

employees are far less likely to say positive things about the company they work for. Building trust with employees from the outset, therefore, is one of the biggest challenges facing any new leader – and something they must focus hard to do. So how can you become a great leader and win the trust of your staff? Here are my ten top tips that could get your leadership off to a flying start:


Start as you mean to go on

Act like you just took over. It’s important to set the tone of your leadership style from the off. You should have a confident manner, be self-assured and respectful to everyone you meet. Speak to people as you want to be spoken to – and remember to listen. The first few weeks will set the tone – that’s the period when people will develop their opinions of you, so work hard to earn people’s trust.


Set audacious goals

Part of a leader’s remit is to set goals that are bold and audacious. Such goals could



Practise what you preach. You must believe – so people follow and buy into your vision

no doubt have been created many years ago – but it’s important to remember how the business started. Honour those early pioneers and instil a sense of pride across the entire organization.


Be known as a decision maker

Leaders need to be decisive. There is little point having a leader incapable of making a decision, even if it turns out not to be the right one. Being indecisive can undermine confidence and trust. Leaders must lead, take a chance and make a decision based on the facts to hand at the time. This is the core skill of any successful leader.


Be radical and act swiftly

take years to achieve, but they need to be specific enough that everyone in the organization understands them, buys into them and works together to achieve them.


Charlie Bard / Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

Stamp out ‘them and us’

According to Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer there is still a ‘them and us’ type of culture within many organizations, with employees feeling very distant from senior management. Leaders need to be aware of this, and stamp it out if they believe this is the case in their organization. The message must be clear that ‘we’re all in this together’, but leaders need to work hard to ensure that this message filters through.


Always tell employees the truth

Don’t do everything yourself. Great leaders, like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, surround themselves with talented individuals who can offer their own solutions. Leaders provide the vision and set the goals, but they trust people to make it happen. They also need

to be upfront about the business and where it’s heading. Communicating your vision for the future is key to getting people on board. If things need changing, let people know and ensure they are involved in making the changes. Show your confidence in them by letting them design a new strategy.


Don’t rescue people from events

People learn by ‘doing’. Letting people work things out for themselves and make their own mistakes is part and parcel of growing as a person and an employee.


Allow creative space, but insist on decisions

It’s important to give people time to innovate and come up with new ideas, different ways of doing things, and solutions to problems. However be clear that a decision is expected – and set a time limit for this.


Respect the roots of the business

The winning formula for your business success will

Leaders need to be the ones to take a risk and be radical in their thinking. Playing it safe was never a good business rule, and leaders need to make sure their business stays ahead of the game by acting quickly on new ideas and innovations.


Always be passionate, enthusiastic, proud – believe! Practise what you preach. You must believe – so people follow and buy into your vision. Show that you are passionate, enthusiastic and proud. People spend a large part of their lives at work, so having a leader who is genuinely excited about the future of the company is hugely motivating and inspiring. — Stephen Archer is partner at Spring Partnerships LLP

Discovery path Learn more... about becoming a great leader www.bit.ly/ ddpfirsttime

Q1 2017 Dialogue


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vivek wadhwa

Only those that embrace technological advance will have the power to shape its outcome

Defend the future from the new Luddites Vivek Wadhwa is fellow at the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University

sensors that allow me to get an instant, If you have a son or daughter under the age detailed electrocardiogram and send it to of five, it’s possible they’ll never drive a car. my doctor improves my life in very real Think about that for a second. One of the ways. Yet much of the discourse around great human rites of passage is getting your driving licence, yet many of today’s children innovation almost ignores the opportunities posed by technological development, and won’t do so, because there will be no need focuses on the threats. for one. Self-driving car technology is There certainly are threats – change improving so quickly that, within 15 years, has its dark side. Like the cotton-weaving I expect the debate to focus not on whether roles defended unsuccessfully by the first robot-driven vehicles ought be allowed on Luddites, many jobs will disappear. Some the highway, but whether human-driven of life’s pleasures – as driving is for some vehicles should be banned from it. of us – will simply become obsolete, or Humans make pretty lousy drivers. We are prone to road rage, drive when tired, and at least rendered the preserve of niche hobbyists. Thanks to biotechnologies like play with the stereo instead of watching the genetic modification and cloning, food road. That’s why the world’s governments – the ultimate scarce impose severe penalties resource – will no longer for speeding, spend be scarce. That will save billions on accidentWithin a few years, millions of lives in the proof roads and roadrobot drivers will developing world. But it safety measures, and save thousands of lives a is likely to exacerbate the make driving tests ever year simply by keeping obesity epidemic that is harder to pass. Thanks to killing Westerners. humans’ inept approach humans off the highway The doomto driving, much of the mongering tech-resisters cost of building a new car goes on making it hard and safe to break. have much the easier brief; we optimistic embracers the harder sell. Within a few years, robots will be far better Yet few of either camp can know the drivers than most Homo sapiens, and will future, because it isn’t yet determined. save thousands of lives a year simply by So I set a challenge: do we want a Star keeping us off the highway. It’s the Trek future, where technology is used ultimate upside. Yet many see the for mostly good aims, where digitization prospect of humans outclassed at and innovation has largely advanced the driving by robots as emblematic of a species? Or are we to submit to the dystopia dark, machine-ruled future. of Mad Max? I think it’s up to us. The future In truth, robocars are just an easy is controllable by good management. But target. Much of the fearfulness around those that resist the march of technology technological advance is nothing more cede control of that future to someone else, than a new Luddism, in which most steps or to nobody at all. Worried about digital forward are decried rather than celebrated. inequalities? Get involved in tech and do I prefer to live in the future. Safer roads something about it. Washing our hands populated by robocars apart, there are lots of advancement is the most likely way of of good things about futuristic technology. ensuring it turns out badly. My house in California is a so-called passive Aim for a bright future, not a dark one. home that uses very little energy on heating And imagine not your children stuck behind or cooling. The solar panels on my roof the wheel on a jammed up beltway, but mean that my energy bills are close to zero. taking a flight on a spaceship powered only As a chronic sufferer of heart trouble, the by the sun. fact that my iPhone is cradled in electronic Q1 2017 Dialogue



The way we learn tomorrow

Your employees already learn for themselves. Make the most of the new normal, writes Todd Tauber

The near future of corporate learning is already here. And individuals are playing a much bigger, more active role than they used to. That doesn’t mean the learning and development (L&D) department is obsolete. But it does mean that it probably needs to evolve. But how? Every chief learning officer (CLO) knows L&D is becoming more digital. Which means almost anyone can now learn pretty much anything they need, any time they Dialogue Q1 2017

want, all by themselves. What isn’t quite clear is how L&D teams should adapt to this new reality. To help answer that question, Degreed surveyed 512 Millennials, GenXers and Baby Boomers to understand how today’s workers really build their skills. These people work at all levels of organizations, in big companies as well as smaller ones, across a range of industries and job functions. Here’s what we learned about the digital, democratic, near future

of learning for work:

How we invest in people in the on-demand economy

Only 18% of the people we surveyed said they would recommend their employer’s learning and development opportunities to a colleague. But let’s be honest, most chief executives don’t invest in people out of benevolence or social conscience. They do it to drive productivity and performance. Chief executives are paid


primarily to deliver value to shareholders and that value comes largely from growing profits. So why does it matter if employees aren’t happy with their training? Because learning and development are among the most powerful tools that organizations have to spur productivity – and research shows that engagement is a predictor of future financial performance. People are a big expense – up to 70% of operating costs in many organizations. So efficiency is why we talk about managing human capital ten times more than we talk about investing in people. As part of the ongoing efficiency drive, employers have shifted $3.3 trillion off payroll and into the ‘contingent workforce’ in recent years. Today, 34% of American workers are freelancers, contractors or temps. Within the next decade, some forecasts predict that the figure could swell to 50%. In the on-demand economy, when it comes to people, organizations value efficiency above engagement. This drive for efficiency has completely reshaped L&D, too. Almost half of corporate training is now delivered using technology, up from 26% a decade ago. And all that new technology is three to six times more likely to be used to enhance reach, lower costs or improve consistency than to meet the specific needs of Generation X, the Millennials, or the Homeland Generation – those born after the mid-1990s. That’s why only 18% would recommend their L&D offerings to a colleague – investing in efficiency alone doesn’t work so well for today’s workers. But the demand for efficiency isn’t going away. So the conventional tools of the trade – instructional design, facilitation, learning management systems (LMS), e-learning courses, virtual classes, rapid authoring tools – are not obsolete. They’re just incomplete. Tools need to address engagement alongside efficiency.

L&D of the people, for the people, and by the people

Workers need more than the typical training solutions because we don’t just build expertise through formal training. We also grow every day via informal experiences and interactions with other people. To really drive productivity and performance, you need it all. Formal and

SELF SERVICE LEARNING Weekly work-learning behaviours


learn by searching online


learn from peers, articles or blogs


learn from videos Source: Degreed

informal. L&D and self-serve. Efficiency and engagement. The operative word here is ‘and’. According to our research, formal training is still an essential part of how workers develop new skills and keep their old ones fresh. Around 70% of the people we surveyed told us they take live, virtual or e-learning courses at work at least once a year. However, this still works out to be only every few months. In between, workers rely on social and on-demand learning. Almost 85% said they learn things for work at least

Workers rely on social and ondemand learning. Almost 85% said they learn things for work online once a week by searching online. Nearly 70% learn from peers, articles or blogs each week, and more than half from videos (see graphic, above). Learning and development are not exclusively the L&D team’s job anymore. They’re intertwined with everyone’s job. As a matter of fact, people told us that, on average, they spend five times more time learning on their own each week than from their employers’ training. Yet, they still need – and want – direction. Workers who told us they have adequate guidance are significantly more satisfied with their employers’


training and development opportunities than those who don’t. These days, however, that support is more likely to come from their managers, peers or technology than from their CLOs. Fewer than 30% turn to their L&D departments or search their LMS first when they need to learn something new for work. Meanwhile, 69% ask their boss or mentor, 55% look to colleagues and nearly half seek out answers or resources online. That is an opportunity for CLOs and their teams, not a threat. People still need operational knowledge and skills training to do their jobs. But today’s workers also need to learn and grow every day, not just once in a while. So the role of the L&D function – creating and delivering programmes, classes and courses – is expanding, not shrinking. Smart CLOs now do more than just supply learning, they enable it. They build diverse ecosystems and cultures that empower everyone to access the best learning resources from anywhere, on-demand, to link development to both career goals and organizational priorities, and to connect with each other for guidance, coaching and collaboration.

Towards a more perfect union of L&D, workers and managers

For most CLOs, sharing control with workers and managers is easier said than done. Mindsets about training are often fixed, budgets always get squeezed, and processes are typically set. So a growing number of learning teams are embracing their new role by thinking, investing and working differently. Take one technology company we work with. As their VP of talent development says, “I don’t just want to tell employees what they have to learn. I want to show them what they can learn. “Our role,” he adds, “is to provide employees with the resources, tools and connections they need to do their jobs and build their careers.” Prioritizing workers’ needs together with the company’s has led to a diverse portfolio that targets different groups with specific solutions. That portfolio still includes live workshops and online classes. But it also includes short-term assignments, massive open online courses, mobile performance support, digital communities, and on-demand books, articles and videos. Sometimes, that diversity comes at Q1 2017 Dialogue



the expense of efficiency and control. The entire talent development team is constantly exploring new tools and methods. They recruit people from outside of learning to experiment with fresh ideas and new skills. And they share responsibility for curating learning experiences with employees. This is what the near future looks like. The most mature L&D teams already deliver 20% less training in classrooms and LMS than less sophisticated ones do. They also provide up to 30% more learning onthe-job, 13% more via coaching and collaboration, and nearly 100% more through on-demand resources like videos, articles and books. These next-generation L&D teams aren’t going through this transformation out of benevolence or social conscience, either. They’re doing it because it makes them more effective, both at growing employees’ capabilities and at driving business results. It also makes them more cost efficient.

Rebuilding L&D for digital and democracy

Getting and keeping people engaged in their work is more vital than ever, and L&D is essential to making that happen. However, the ways we train and develop workers need to adapt. L&D leaders see the need to evolve. Over 60% of those we polled are rethinking their learning strategies to engage today’s workers better. Almost half are investing in more modern content or new technology. However, fewer are updating their own teams. Only 42% are reorganizing, just 31% are re-skilling their staff and barely 21% are recruiting for new capabilities. The reality is that entertaining, snack-sized content and gamified social learning systems aren’t enough to get you ready for the near future of L&D. You also need to embrace new ways of thinking and working to better balance organizational imperatives with individual ones. — Todd Tauber is VP of product marketing at Degreed

Further reading For a copy of Degreed’s research report How the Workforce Learns in 2016 visit bit.ly/degreedreport Dialogue Q1 2017

expert views

THE FUTURE OF L&D ‘Encourage employees to find content and teach themselves’ Janice Burns, chief learning officer, MasterCard “We encourage our employees to look at learning resources both inside the company and outside, such as TED Talks. It’s all self-driven, encouraging individual passions and learning. They can view anything they like – they’re going to do it anyway – it’s not monitored. Our fundamental messages are: 1) innovate yourselves or you won’t keep up; and 2) make learning a habit. “The gig economy, where temporary positions are common and people don’t want full-time employment contracts, has begun. We are competing for talent and for employee affection. At MasterCard, we have three generations all working side-by-side. Our learning strategy helps to feed their thirst for knowledge, while driving referrals and attracting new employees. When we started this journey towards learning freedom three years ago, 70% of our employees were engaged in formal learning that we provided, and 0% were in collaborative learning social forums; the figures are now over 90% and 60%. We are clearly meeting some hitherto unmet need.”

‘Use attractive content to pull people towards strategic learning’ Amit Aggarwal, SVP HR & chief learning officer, Genpact “We are in the middle of a big debate along exactly these lines, and Degreed’s research has helped to crystallize some of our ideas. When I consult my line colleagues, they favour balancing attractive content that stimulates curiosity and pulls people towards learning with steering individuals towards curated content that is consistent with our strategic focus. Of course, it needs an accessible, high-speed infrastructure to enable easy access and a curator who can work through the masses of YouTube, Khan Academy and other materials to create content relevant to Genpact’s strategic focus. WebEx Q&A with experts would be one, personable way to direct learning towards certain resources. Our challenge is that the world is changing so fast that we need to look ahead constantly at learning content that supports where we are headed – not where we are currently located. We ask people to develop and move fast. “Personally, I think the role of the classroom is still pivotal to development, because it gives people the mental map they need to navigate all the materials available to them on the web.”



‘You need to balance self-discovery with rigour’ Mike Conner, chief evangelist, BlueBottleBiz

‘It's hard to learn leadership behaviours on the web’ Andreas Kalverkamp, HeidelbergCement

“Companies and their needs evolve faster and faster. L&D has always had to adapt and play catch-up to be seen as a source of value-add rather than as a cost centre. There’s nothing new about going digital, but we are all overwhelmed with content and data, to the point where it can make us more inefficient, rather than more productive. Going back and forth searching for ideas can waste a lot of time. Not just that, but employees will share content they find when it resonates, and sometimes it’s just plain wrong and could take our company off at a tangent. Then we waste even more time unlearning new stuff! So yes – absolutely – you have to balance inevitable self-discovery with some rigour around steering people towards helpful, rather than time-wasting, content. It’s much more about creating a collaborative learning environment, one that gives structure to informal learning and freedom to offer quick feedback. “The platforms out there that will be most successful in guiding credible self-discovery are the ones that combine expertly vetted content, professional network and collaborative tools. By curating only the most credible content – being sure to not waste anyone’s time – and pairing it with context, or comments that can easily be added by field experts or peers, such content can be morphed into new and innovative ideas. “When it comes to Degreed’s research, I am not surprised by the findings. Often, learning-management systems contain too much information and too many generic courses, so people choose to circumvent the system. L&D needs to ensure mandatory training, such as compliance, takes place. At the same time, L&D needs to facilitate self-learning. Since 70% of knowledge is retained from informal experiences, it makes sense to guarantee learners some freedom, while providing structure and context. In this way, learners and businesses both win.”

“There is a good use for the internet when I need a quick solution to a hands-on problem. For example, if I need to set up a project plan or need a solution for a specific calculation using Excel, I admit I am likely to do a quick web search. Unfortunately for a company it gets a lot more difficult if you want to create a movement using e-learning. We do use e-learning to boost the technical and process knowledge of our workers or to share good practice on several business topics. But initiatives like this need to be well embedded and implemented in the organization and expectations need to be clear. Where the internet then really stumbles is on the complex issues, like aligning leadership behaviours, shaping the culture, and behaving in the way we expect from our managers at HeidelbergCement. We don’t need our employees to search online and then decide if they prefer the Welch or the Goleman approach. We know what kind of behaviours we expect from them, such as reliability, thoroughness and transparency in decision-making. And this is not just important for our 700 top and senior managers, who lead the way. It’s just as important for our middle managers, where money is made or lost. Being specific and deliberate about what management style we want is important to keep us on track.” Q1 2017 Dialogue



Drucker said: “innovate or else�

Dialogue Q1 2017



Four great innovations show why ideas are key to business. Everything else is ancillary writing

William A Cohen illustration

Fernando Volken Togni

Peter Drucker claimed that any business had only two primary functions: marketing and innovation. I would extend that contention to not-for-profit organizations too. Essentially, anyone who is selling anything is in the business of generating ideas, then promoting them. The rest is mere details. Let’s be honest. Many, perhaps all, of our innovations come from flashes of sudden inspiration. I seem to get an enormous number of such flashes on awaking in the morning, which tells me that my mind has been hard at work all night while I slept. Entrepreneur Joe Cossman was an unbelievably productive innovator who thought of so many products that it was a miracle he found the time and resources to pursue even a small percentage of them. But somehow he exploited enough to become extremely wealthy. Similar to Drucker, he worked mainly alone as a one-man band. Most of his innovations probably made him a million dollars or more every time he introduced one. A few failed. Yet his innovations’ success rate and his productivity were both excellent. The Cossman Ant Farm was one of his most successful and best known efforts… Q1 2017 Dialogue



insect idea

THE CASE OF JOE COSSMAN Cossman’s Ant Farm was arguably the most successful toy innovation of the 20th century. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But Cossman’s famous farm was one huge success. The idea of constructing an educational toy by assembling an ant colony was not new. Other manufacturers had created similar products – using a wooden framework of about 12 inches by 12 inches, surrounded by clear panes of glass. Inside was the correct kind of dirt the ants needed for a successful living environment. The ‘farmer’ could peer in and watch the goings-on, and that was not new either. This educational toy had probably been around for 80 years or more when Cossman introduced his version. However, that’s where his innovation began. The old versions never even attempted a mass market for children because the clear panes of glass could easily break, thus rendering the toy dangerous. The original ant colony products worked when used under the supervision of a teacher in the classroom, but they could not be promoted as an individual child’s toy – and not only because of the danger of the breaking glass. The glasswood interface was not perfect, and the ants frequently escaped, much to the dismay of both teachers in the classroom and their students. Parents would have been even less amused to have ants running around the house. Enter Cossman. His product used the basic title ‘ant farm’, which came from his brotherin-law Milton Levine. Obvious, you might think, but even the name chosen was an innovation. Cossman’s version of the ant farm was intended for use as a learning toy for individual children at home. Thus it was designed for personal ownership, and not as a class project. Moreover, it was a toy system. He replaced the wooden frame and glass with clear plastic. That made it lighter, unbreakable under normal use and, therefore, safer for children. It was also more secure – reducing the ants’ ability to escape. As another plus, it was much cheaper to

Anyone who is selling anything is in the business of generating ideas, then promoting them. The rest is mere details Dialogue Q1 2017

manufacture. But Cossman didn’t stop there. How could he distribute the farm with the ants to retail stores around the country? Simple – another innovation. A farm had livestock, and each ant farm that he sold had a ‘stock certificate’ accompanying it. The certificate was mailed to an address, which would then receive guaranteed live delivery of the ‘livestock’ necessary to populate the farm. Children loved the whole idea – and so did Cossman, for it made him rich. computer concept

THE CASE OF MICHAEL DELL So the basic idea of an ant farm wasn’t so different, it was the innovation that made the product. Now consider Michael Dell and his computers. While a pre-med student, Dell discovered that he could get a vendor’s licence to bid on contracts selling computer upgrade kits all over Texas – right out of his room in a residential building. With minimal overheads, his prices were low and he won contract after contract. This led him to challenge the conventional method of selling computers through retail stores and to go directly to the customer. His innovation revolutionized computer sales and allowed customers to essentially design their own computers at a competitive price. What an idea! What an innovation! His net worth at the end of 2014 was $22.4 billion. bailiff brilliance

THE CASE OF BILL BARTMANN Billionaire Bill Bartmann was once listed by Forbes as the 25th wealthiest man in the US, right ahead of Ross Perot. Bartmann is on my board of advisers at the California Institute of Advanced Management, and he is one amazing individual. He has done so many amazing things, they would fill a book. In fact, they have. I recommend his book Bouncing Back. Bartmann made his biggest fortune in a highly innovative fashion by completely turning an industry on its head. This was the debt collection sector, where the standard operating procedures have usually been to threaten, hound, and otherwise coerce those owing money to pay up or else. In the immortal words


of the film The Godfather, “to make him an offer he can’t refuse”. Bartmann bought credit notes for 10 cents on the dollar. But instead of hiring a bunch of hard men to threaten loss of reputation, home, or damage to bodily parts, Bartmann hired an assortment of headhunters, personal coaches and placement experts. His team assisted those owing money in job finding, rebuilding their careers and restructuring loans, so that – while maintaining their self-respect – they were able to pay off every penny. Now that’s innovation and market structure innovation! And, of course, Bartmann made a fortune in the process – while helping others. education eureka

THE CASE OF ONLINE LEARNING About 20 years ago, Drucker predicted that the future of executive education was online. His prediction was based partially on technology and convenience, but also on the fact that computer literacy and computer ownership were growing even faster than the demand for executive education, and that the education could be provided at a much lower cost in this manner without the overhead of a bricks-and-mortar classroom. Many traditional educators disparaged the idea of distance learning. They said it had to be done in the classroom face-to-face by lecture, just as it had been done in ancient Greece 2,000 years ago. They said that discussions had to take place and questions asked and answered in this environment or it just wasn’t effective. Students might be exposed to information and ideas online, but they just would not and could not learn in this way. Well, Drucker was right again. Research found that learning online was even faster and more effective than classroom learning in many instances. Back in 2011, the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, and James Baxter Hunt Jr, the longest-serving governor of North Carolina, gave a joint speech on containing the rising costs of education, which was published afterwards in Inside Higher Ed. “In 2010, the US Department of Education’s ‘Review of Online Learning Studies’ found that students who took all or part of a course online perform better, on average, than those


Drucker found specific ways to approach innovation, and others proved by their success that he was – as usual – right on target

taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction,” the two former state governors said. “Similarly, a study conducted in the same year by Dr Mickey Shachar and Dr Yoram Neumann analysed 20 years of research on the topic and showed that in 70% of the cases, students who took distance-learning courses outperformed their counterparts who took courses in a traditional environment.” Today, many old traditional universities, such as Harvard, Stanford and the University of Southern California, all have online programmes. Others, such as Boston University, even offer doctorate degrees entirely online. The California Institute of Advanced Management (CIAM), started out with a so-called ‘blended’ or ‘hybrid’ MBA programme with six lessons of every course face-to-face in the classroom and five online. This enabled committed students to complete a rigorous and unabridged MBA programme in only 11 months. After three years’ experience, CIAM started an alternative online programme with all the features of the blended programme – except that it is 100% online. Using these, and other Drucker-recommended concepts, CIAM was able to offer much more to students, including practical consulting experience in every course, whether online or in the classroom. Moreover CIAM was able to do all this at a much lower price than most graduate schools.

Drucker tells us what to do

Drucker told us that we must innovate with two big insights: it’s not the size of the change, but the amount of advantage caused by the change. However, he did not leave it there. He told us what we should avoid, and how we should approach innovation to build and maintain the success of our organizations with the best sources of new ideas. Drucker found specific ways to approach innovation, and others proved by their success that he was – as usual – right on target.

Adapted from Peter Drucker’s Consulting Principles: And How to Apply Them for Business Success, LID Publishing bit.ly/druckerbook Q1 2017 Dialogue

ORGANISATIONS NEED TO CHANGE THE GAME TO SURVIVE. This new organometric, The GC Index, is the first to assess an individual’s proclivity to contribute and make an impact to an organisation, role or project. All regardless of personality, gender, race, age, level or ability to ‘play the game’ and climb the corporate ladder.















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phil young

The history of telecoms majors shows that classic financial analyses need a rethink

Time to dial up the truth Phil Young PhD is an MBA professor and corporate education consultant and instructor

Remember that, in those days, there Net present value never tells the whole were no streaming video services such as story. The move by Verizon – one of the two Netflix or Amazon Prime. People then were largest telecom companies in the US – to acquire Yahoo for $4.5 billion, and the recent also more often putting their mobile phones next to their ear than in front of their eyes. public disclosure that Yahoo’s subscriber This is certainly not the case today and, base was hacked several years ago, has understandably, these days both Verizon exposed the frailties of net present value and AT&T are investing much more in (NPV) and discounted cash-flow. Ever since wireless broadband services than they are the advent of wireless voice services over 25 on wire-line services. The point is that, ten years ago, traditional telecommunications or so years ago, revenue generated from carriers such as Verizon and its arch-rival fibre-optic broadband services could only AT&T have been struggling to find a solid be imagined. Moreover, this was the first replacement for their traditional wire-line time that a fibre-optic cable network would business. The move by Verizon to acquire be built for individual homes and multiAOL, and now Yahoo, is part of its strategy occupancy buildings. How accurate would to transform itself into a digital media their cost estimates be? company that can go up against the likes of Despite the uncertainty, Verizon and Google and Facebook. AT&T proceeded to build But this is certainly out their own fibrenot the first time optic networks in 2006. that telecoms majors Hindsight shows Today, a decade later, have tried to find a how challenging it financial analysts doubt replacement for their is to estimate the value of whether there has been wire-line businesses – an adequate return on which were long thought future cash flows the investment. Indeed, of as cash cows, but Verizon announced back rapidly turned into dogs in 2012 that it was going to stop building with the proliferation of mobile phones and out its fibre-optic cable any further than its the widening of mobile phone networks. already set commitments with communities Thus, wireless voice services became the throughout the US. But, from a strategic telecoms’ new star - but, as competition standpoint looking back at the time these grew, and once-sky-high call charges decisions were made, it would seem that plummeted, they too commoditized into a both companies had to make this huge dog-like product. financial bet – regardless of what the A few years into the new millennium, numbers told them. the telecoms decided that the provision Today, by buying AOL for $4.4 billion, of wire-line data and video services and also by wanting to buy Yahoo for $4.5 would be their new heroes. But these billion (at the time of writing, the deal has services required broadband capabilities yet to be made official), Verizon is once that their aging copper wire network again making a big financial bet. could not support. Cable TV already had With hindsight, the investment and its coaxial network in place to provide current return on investment in a fibrethese broadband services. There was also optic cable network shows how challenging satellite TV. So the only way forward for the it is to estimate the value of future cash incumbent carriers was to build their own flows. There are great uncertainties in fibre-optic network – at gigantic cost. Did financial analysts at the two telecom market demand, technology changes and cost estimates. And the news about the giants sit down to crunch the numbers to hacking of 500 million Yahoo subscriber see if building a fibre-optic network would accounts illustrates another potential knife have a positive NPV? Would the internal rate in the side of financial valuations: risk. of return exceed their cost of capital? Q1 2017 Dialogue



The new musketeers Finance departments are rarely renowned for their swashbuckling approach to business. More likely, their executives are regarded as cautious, compliant, risk-averse tacticians who are more focused on details and problems than opportunities. Yet this era could be coming to an end – the evidence is that a new breed of ‘big picture’ CFOs is starting to emerge. New research – seen exclusively by Dialogue – shows that a groundbreaking troop of commercially minded, dynamic, forward-thinking financial leaders are breathing new life into a once-retrospective profession. The findings come from a study convened by US professional body The CFO Alliance and undertaken by experts using a leading edge organizational impact instrument, The GC Index. The study comprised in-depth analyses of 20 senior finance professionals from three US companies. The companies covered by the study operate in different sectors of the economy – housebuilding supplies, asset management and software (see case studies overleaf). Evidence from the GC Index database in part supports the stereotype of finance executives as pragmatic, taskfocused tacticians whose attention is on detail and problems rather than ‘big picture’ commercial opportunities. Yet results from the study also revealed a handful of dynamic, forwardthinking CFOs who have brought transformational change to their organizations. “These individuals have Dialogue Q1 2017

Unpublished research reveals that a handful

FIVE SHADES OF EXECUTIVE GC Index role preferences


The Strategist Maps the future

The Game Changer Transforms the future

The Play Maker Orchestrates the future

The Implementer Builds the future

The Polisher Creates a future to be proud of


the potential to add a very different sort of commercial value to the businesses that they serve – if their capabilities are recognized and nurtured, and if given the scope to turn ideas into reality,” Dr John MervynSmith, chief psychologist and director at

The GC Index, says. Strategic thinking in finance is crucial. Modern, forward-thinking finance chiefs use the data they analyse to recommend courses of action for the whole business, providing management advice for their chief executives as well as other departmental heads. The best finance leaders propose strategic courses



The Strategist Maps the future


of dynamic commercially minded CFOs are shaking up a once risk-averse profession, finds Ben Walker

The Game Changer Transforms the future

The Play Maker Orchestrates the future

The Implementer Builds the future

The Polisher Creates a future to be proud of


of action for the business based on hard commercial data and their analysis of the numbers. Yet there remains some way to go before the profession as a whole transforms itself. Among the five role preferences categorized by The GC Index – play maker, game changer, strategist, polisher and implementer (see graphic) – strategists were the most

poorly represented among the finance executives assessed in The CFO Alliance study. The findings were stark – not a single professional in the focus group exhibited a clear preference for the strategist role. And only one of the respondents demonstrated a strategist score of greater than seven out of ten. And that, says GC Index founder Nathan Ott, is not

Strategists were the most poorly represented among the finance executives

untypical of the profession. “In a normal distribution of all professionals, we’d expect at least four or five out of 20 to record strategist scores of seven or greater,” Ott tells Dialogue. “Would another focus group of finance professionals of a similar standing yield more strategist types? Given what we can see from our data and work with organizations, I doubt there would be much difference. But the important question is what does this actually mean?” If the dearth of strategists among finance professionals found in this focus group is normal, what does this say about the profession as a whole? Nick Araco Jr, chief executive of The CFO Alliance, says the challenge lies with an industry that is coming to terms with the need to play a more holistic role across business functions, and which may not, in the past, have promoted or nurtured strategic thinking. “I somewhat disagree with the inference that strategists are in short supply among finance executives,” says Araco Jr. “Rather, the advancement and opportunity for finance professionals to demonstrate their strategic mindset is just being brought to bear, as organizations come to realize that the principles and foundations that form the basis of financial analysis can be used to set – and execute – corporate growth strategies. “It’s only because finance is now more proactively moving across what were once considered siloed functional lines that their strategic abilities are Q1 2017 Dialogue



being brought to the forefront of corporate decision-making.” There is certainly room for optimism that finance can identify and develop its professionals’ enthusiasm for companywide thinking. The focus group revealed that, in two of the companies surveyed at least, employees’ preferences were diverse – pointing to potential for developing wider roles beyond the core competencies of traditional finance professionals. The focus group’s preferences were something of a mixed bag (see case studies) but tended towards task-based roles – implementer and polisher – while several professionals exhibited play maker tendencies. Crucially, some exhibited strong game-changer preferences, showing that people with a preference for shaking things up and thinking of new ways to advance their company can be readily found within

finance departments. “It’s important to remember that The GC Index measures people’s current preferences – not their potential,” says Mervyn-Smith. “If chief financial officers can assure their teams that strategic thinking will be valued by the company, it is likely that finance teams’ profiles will change over time – as the market places a greater premium on a strategic approach.”

Discovery path Learn more… about The GC Index and CFO strategists

The Game Changer





33% 33%



Percentage of team exhibiting highest score in each role

suppressed strategists

THE ASSET MANAGER The GC Index Team Profile (see above) may be typical of many rapidly-growing businesses. Specifically, the importance of transformational ideas – the role of game changer was the highest GC Index profile score for 33% of this team – could be much more relevant for this business than long-term strategic thinking, while it is going through rapid change. The CFO of this organization may well have been hired to build a finance function that can scale and grow in line with business needs, but the pace is such that the function has to be reactive and task-focused rather than strategic.

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bit.ly/ddpnew musketeers

case studies

K E Y The Play Maker The Strategist The Implementer The Polisher




M U LT I DIMENSIONAL LEADERS A more sophisticated area of The GC Index is the multidimensional leader (MDL) analysis. MDLs are those leaders who exhibit strong preferences in at least two areas. The two proclivities combined produce a multidimensional leadership role, outlined here (see right), which meets the demands of the adaptive world.


the game-changing cfo


THE HOUSEBUILDING SUPPLIER This organization had a very forwardthinking CFO. Scores in the five roles (see left) are out of ten. This CFO is the only finance professional who had a strong strategic profile within our research group. The CFO also had a very high proclivity towards creativity and innovation – gamechanger preferences – which, when coupled with his strategic inclinations, made a powerful contribution for the finance function and the business. In practical terms, this individual has the ability to see transformational ideas and change within a strategic context: a potent combination. This housebuilding supplier clearly recognizes the impact this arguably unorthodox CFO profile can contribute to the finance function and wider business. This example reinforces the point that finance can be, contrary to the stereotype noted above, a very valuable source of strategic creativity and needs to be identified and nurtured.

The Strategist

The Play Maker

THE SOFTWARE GIANT Given the size and nature of this organization, it is a machine built upon effective processes and procedures. As such, the GC Index profile for the finance function (see above) fits well with the organizational task. To be successful it needs to focus upon delivering to a high standard – and quickly. So long as it delivers in line with the strategic requirements of the business, and in a collaborative and incrementally improving way, then everyone is efficient, effective and happy. This group is operating extremely well, and the need for strategic thinking is largely secondary. Here the articulation and delivery of the organizational finance strategy is where the value lies.

The Implementer = COACH

+ The Implementer

= I N S P I R AT I O N A L

+ The Polisher


+ The Implementer

= INVENTOR The Polisher

= S O LV E R


The Play Maker

The Play Maker +

The Game Changer

the delivery machine

= C H A R I S M AT I C



Percentage of team exhibiting highest score in each role

The Play Maker

The Implementer

The Game Changer



+ The Strategist


The Game Changer

The Game Changer




+ The Strategist






The Polisher = A S P I R AT I O N A L

+ The Strategist

The Polisher

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Lessons that last Financial services giant Sun Life shows how leaders can put classroom learning into practice, discovers Liz Mellon

A chasm yawns between learning in the classroom and its practical application in the real world. However talented the teachers, and however clever the ideas, changing our behaviour to put the ideas into practice can sometimes be too challenging. The busyness of daily life and the demands of an exacting job combine to deprive us of the time or space for experimentation. All the careful planning, design and expense result in too little lasting change in leadership practices at work. Sun Life has a good reputation for developing company executives. Colleen Hutchings, director in organizational health, joined the company less than three years ago. “I targeted Sun Life because they lead learning and development in our industry,” she says. “They have a reputation for how they work with clients, an outstanding level of technical expertise, and for hiring the best and brightest in sales. And, since I started work here, they haven’t let me down at all.” Hutchings attended the Sun Life Advancing High Performance programme for directors. This is run by Jill Reiner, director of leadership development, and Joe Anderson, senior consultant in leadership development. The programme is a five-month-long development initiative, with a variety of stages and multiple touchpoints. Directors must cover the fundamentals of leadership in another internal programme before being accepted to Advancing High Performance – so the programme can live up to its name. There is an upfront assessment of learning needs, and the programme components are designed to address these exactly. There is preparation work ahead of the classroom time, carried out with their managers, and there is also a well-structured followup, with each director individually tracked against learning outcomes. Dialogue Q1 2017

Learning and development professionals reading this might agree with Reiner’s view. “We have focused on good solid fundamentals, well executed, at a point where these leaders need to step up the high performance agenda,” she says. “And we have a great faculty which doesn’t let them off the learning hook. So should a participant consider his or her role as too ‘different’, they are posed a simple question: what are you going to do about it? “The responsibility and ownership for their own development stay with them. This is an elegant design that

The programme was like Hogwarts-style magic, in the way we were moved around the room is highly effective in delivering the learning outcomes we’re after.” So what is the secret of Sun Life’s success? Apart from grounded and solid professionalism, there are four aspects that make this learning initiative stand apart.



Q1 2017 Dialogue





The first is one aspect of the pre-work. Participants are asked to complete a selfassessment questionnaire related to the programme’s learning content. This is where ownership of their development first kicks in, as it helps participants think deeply about how well they are doing as leaders. Leadership guru Dr Marshall Goldsmith recommends, and indeed participates in, a similar process (see page 34). In Goldsmith’s case, he has a list of questions that he has compiled, intended to keep his goals in mind. Every day, someone calls him and poses the questions to him, so that he has external validation – or the opposite – that he is on target to achieve his goals. Participants on Advancing High Performance are asked similar questions about their leadership development goals. They also have to sense-check their own views by getting qualitative feedback from their manager and team members. Joe Lyman, director in operational risk management, attended the programme nine months ago – he appreciated the emphasis on pre-work. “I have attended a number of development programmes, but the support for me throughout has been excellent on this one,” he says. “I particularly like that you have to come with a plan. You have to sit down and think about where you are and prepare for the event to come. I found this productive and effective.” Hutchings concurs. “The preparation work really laid the foundation for how I needed to show up,” she says. “It got me ready to implant new ideas in my brain and it also laid bare where I needed to improve and develop.” The programme design matches the old adage ‘manage yourself, lead others’.

Dialogue Q1 2017

They give each participant a direct link between behaviour and outcome, so it’s crystal clear exactly how success can be achieved



The second aspect is the emphasis on relationship-building during the face-to-face part of the programme. It’s only three days, but it’s intense. Participants are told to delegate to their teams and to have their managers cover their responsibilities so that they can immerse themselves in the learning experience. They are greeted by a variety of learning methods, including a capstone simulation. But it’s the constant social mixing that impresses the participants. Chris Schulz, director and company security officer in corporate compliance, had previously only participated in external leadership courses. “Attending a programme inside Sun Life was new to me,” he says. “We worked in groups. We weren’t just sitting, but were up and interacting. And then the environment was changed again as we were moved into new groups. The main highlight for me was connecting to other parts of the business and understanding where they fit into Sun Life. We all have our unique challenges in how we develop goals and our team members.” Hutchings agrees: “The river running underneath it all was relationships and how they are built,” she says. “Senior leadership is about how you network and build relationships: working cross-divisionally is the key to success if you can figure it out. The programme was like Hogwarts-style magic, in the way we were moved around the room.” Lyman also found this valuable. “There were rotations all the time on the programme,” he recalls. “You have to put yourself out there and, as you learn, make mistakes in front of someone – a peer – who ideally you’d like to impress! Then, in the capstone simulation, we all had to rely on each other to achieve success. In all this process, I created a bond with eight to ten people, in a way that just wouldn’t

happen during a 45-minute business meeting. I have a new relationship portfolio of directors – and I’m still reaching out to them today to talk about how we are leveraging the concepts we learned in the programme.” This brings to life the well-established quote made by Lew Platt, chief executive of Hewlett Packard from 1992-1999, lamenting HP’s lack of knowledge management: “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.” While developing its directors, Sun Life has also helped them to understand its own business better, providing a solid foundation for enterprise-wide leadership.



The third differentiator for Advancing High Performance is how specifically it’s tailored to the participants’ current and pressing development needs. Sun Life seems to have managed to hit the exact spot where its directors are ready to learn and know that they need to develop. They want these leaders to build on the foundation of their current performance and support them in doing so by using a variety of aids, such as a visual map to take away as a reminder of key content, and bullet points with ideas for implementing new practices. In this way, they are following John Kotter’s seminal advice on how to make change happen – they are giving each participant a direct link between behaviour and outcome, so it


is crystal clear exactly how success can be achieved. Hutchings was impressed by the content. “The programme was dynamic and exciting, and it still makes me smile when I think of it,” she says. “Every day I use the tips and techniques – because I need them. I navigate hard conversations much better through the simple tip I learnt – think of everything someone says to you as a gift, and think ‘thank you’. It’s changed my whole perspective.” Schulz has learnt to plan ahead. “I really think about my audience, whoever I’ll be speaking to, and try to understand them better, to deliver messages in a way that motivates. Sometimes I change my tone of voice, or even sit quietly and stop driving the conversation. I catch myself – I think more about what and how I am saying something in the moment. The one thing I found about this programme is that they didn’t ask you to wipe away all your experience, as has happened to me before on other programmes. They built on where I came from and helped me to adapt from where I am.” Joe Lyman adds: “I learnt concepts and exercises that I can use every day – things I could take back to my team to improve engagement and performance, and show the value of the time I have spent on this.”



The fourth and final aspect of the programme’s success lies in the followup. So very often, despite expending lots of energy, devices such as peercoaching groups and learning reminders wither quickly after the excitement of the face-to-face session. Yet Sun Life has been successful in keeping

the spirit of the programme alive. It has achieved this through pursuing multiple methods: learning partners, post-programme debrief with a direct manager, faculty audio files summarizing content, post-programme self-assessment, giving participants a visual map of the content to take back to work, and launching elective programmes to deepen specific skills. Sun Life can measure across-theboard performance enhancement, but can also identify the one or two areas where performance has not lifted as high. It then uses this information to make continuous improvements to the programme design. “The self-assessments also add tremendous value to the participant experience,” says Joe Anderson. “The beforeand-after view into their personal leadership strengths, and the growth that’s occurred over time, can serve as a great tool to foster further development conversations with their leaders.” Sustaining performance improvement is the hardest aspect – not letting new skills fade. The evidence suggests real change. Hutchings explains how the programme helped her at a crossroads in her career. “I wanted to move laterally, away from my area of technical expertise, but I felt vulnerable,” she says. “The programme reassured me that I had the resilience and confidence to make the move in order to gain more breadth and depth. The experience has changed the way I look at my own leadership potential, and has shown me that the possibilities are endless. Sun Life is exceptional in the way it invests in talent.” Schulz appreciated the partnership with Duke


Corporate Education. “I really enjoyed the programme, it was well set up and the timing was great,” he says. “It was short but well-paced, and I have nothing but praise for the programme. I think differently about things now – I analyse situations ahead of time and reflect on them afterwards to see what I can learn. And, on the practical side, my learning partner and I continue to share our many and daily challenges and how we address them.” It has also helped Lyman’s career. “I recently moved to a new role with a much larger, multisite team,” he says. “I realize that the programme has helped me to be a better people leader. With over 13 years in the company, I know the answers to most questions. But I have learnt to coach rather than ‘tell’, so that I can help my team members to develop. Following the programme, I really debriefed with my leaders and they spoke with my reports to gather feedback. I think this played a big part in the opportunity for me to take on a new role.”

Learning for real life

There is no magic bullet to enhancing leadership performance. The fundamentals still apply and have to be implemented with rigorous attention to detail. The whole experience, from preparation through designed experimentation and on to sustained support, has to be planned for what it is – a development journey with memorable experiences closely linked to real life and its demands back at work. Solid, professional and grounded development, allied with an emphasis on continuous improvement to keep up with the needs of the evolving business: if you can put all that together, you achieve ‘Hogwarts-style’ magic.

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to more than 37 million clients. It has more than 30,000 employees and 89,000 advisers working across the globe, including those employed by its joint ventures.

Q1 2017 Dialogue



andy law

The great TV ad is dead. No one is watching anymore

Digital word of mouth is the future of advertising Andy Law is executive chairman of Inition and an independent consultant to businesses on how to modernize and keep ahead

Creativity conquers disintermediation and disruption because it has always been a disintermediator and disrupter itself

We all know that we’re consuming media in a very different way from ten years ago and in a manner that is totally alien to that of 20 years ago. We all know that disintermediation and disruption have become the norm. And we all know that AdTech, such as programmatic buying and Facebook Live, is driving more messages, more accurately, more often. Some writers, such as Tim Wu, think we might be in a period of revolt against advertising. In his just-published book, The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble To Get Inside Our Heads, he asserts that media has “overtaxed our attention to the point of crisis”. But we consumers are hardy beasts. Since the dawn of electronic advertising we have managed our irritation levels well. Way back in 1960, Research Services survey Attitudes to Advertising demonstrated that ads for Daz, Omo, Tide and Surf – endlessly repeated throughout every evening – were the most irritating. We were introduced to the ‘Detergent Wars’. In postwar Britain we had stopped fighting the Germans and were now fighting ‘the Germs’. Domestos, we learned, was a mighty weapon. Being spectators in commercial wars has trained us to be savvy. We unravel strategies, we expect hyperbole, we take a drone’s-eye view of the scramble for companies to fight for our attention. Working for the Body Shop for many years, I learned from its founder Anita Roddick that you don’t have to advertise to build a successful, profitable global business. You need point-of-view so strong and succinctly proselytized that word of mouth alone would carry customers into the stores. Chez nous, the Law family has neither a Virgin nor a Sky television subscription, just a smart TV and the internet. We watch 100% of our TV on catch-up. My children – age range 11-24 – are glued to their smartphones. The only TV ads we see are on ITV, while we are watching Cold Feet. The ads are roundly regarded as “awful” (cue wave of

nostalgia for “Heineken Refreshes The Parts Other Beers Cannot Reach” and “Happiness Is A Cigar Called Hamlet”), and are – today as then – an opportunity to top up the vino or nip to the loo. But we are, of course, being subjected to a 1960s-style messaging-assault, this time via social media. And this time it feels like digital word of mouth. “You Won’t Believe What Happens Next” type video hits are populating social media fast. They are targeted and they are compelling. I never knew I needed an instant car-scratch remover. I can’t believe I didn’t own a UV Activated Liquid Plastic Bonding Self-Adhesive Filler. Our in-home viewing habits aren’t much different from our out-of-home media consumption. I don’t see much good TV advertising around anymore. By good I mean: crafted, intelligent, witty. I see a lot of bad advertising. By bad I mean ill thoughtout, badly directed, poorly acted and with amateurish strategy. I’m not saying there isn’t any good advertising. I just don’t see it. People don’t seem to even send it round any more. The purpose of advertising is to draw a viewer’s gaze towards your product or service and hold that gaze long enough to take in the key information. To avoid cacophonous repetition, the information is best cradled by humour, wit, surprise, imagination or intelligence. That cradling is what we call ‘creativity’. Creativity conquers disintermediation and disruption because it has always been a disintermediator and disrupter itself. Marketers can construct internal departments to feed the inexorable rise of digital word of mouth – Channel 4 and Specsavers do this well. They do this creatively. Or, perhaps, a new breed of service company can emerge that doesn’t look over its shoulder at the glorious past. Instead, these new players will observe what is really happening today, anticipate what will happen tomorrow – and disrupt the digital chaos with real, quality ‘direct-yourgaze-to-me’ messaging. It’s coming. Q1 2017 Dialogue



KAM: mission impossible The secret to success in key account management is knowing where the profession is going wrong


Professor Nicholas AC Read & Ben Laker illustration

Sarah Gelfgren

In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, companies slashed costs to gain profits. After trimming the bottom line to the bone, attention shifted to the top line. Selling became missioncritical, especially in the area of key account management (KAM) where the largest or most Dialogue Q1 2017

strategic customers are handled. Yet the sales function is often viewed as a dark art by executives. Despite its impact on revenue and share value, its inner workings remain unregulated and standards-free. Seeking to demystify its best practices, researchers



to mission accomplished

The best KAMs are promoted to lead a team, and retain a personal selling quota. This practice typically ruins both the leader and the team

conducted face-to-face interviews and surveys with 1,100 key account managers (KAMs) in the UK’s information communications technology industry. Views were correlated against a separate study. The second study asked executive buyers which skills and personal qualities in

suppliers led them to elevate the suppliers to trusted adviser status. So what did the research find? Here are some of the less obvious challenges companies should anticipate when building a KAM function, and the approaches to create positive outcomes. Q1 2017 Dialogue



challenge 1


KAMs serve tenures that are five times shorter than the national average for all staff. This affects customer retention, team cohesion and longevity of the sales culture. Two culprits stand out:

A Wrong measures KAMs play the long game, try to be more strategic and operate on longer business cycles. Yet success is often measured using metrics suited to shorter transactional sales. Being accountable to standards that don’t fit the role creates friction, and means the actions that do matter can go unmonitored and unheralded. Interestingly, when asked what makes them effective as sellers, 660 of 1,100 KAMs ranked personal gravitas and grooming as key traits, yet the same factors rate low on the scale of what executives look for in suppliers.

Solution High-performing KAM teams regularly refresh their job descriptions, team structures and success measures to ensure they stay relevant. They avoid guesswork and ask buyers what they want to see more of in the relationship. They steer clear of defining a key account solely by how much money the client spends. Other factors like growth potential; willingness to test new products; industry influence; being a marquee brand others follow; or being an important stronghold for the competition all feature in the decision to target a company and bestow key account status.

Most KAMs ranked personal gravitas and grooming as key traits in making them effective sellers, yet the same factor rates low on the scale of what executives look for in a supplier Dialogue Q1 2017

B Weak leadership It’s common for the best KAMs to be promoted to lead a team, and retain a personal selling quota. Executives may think this is the best of both worlds, but the practice typically ruins both the leader and the team. Split roles create conflict as to whose interests are prioritized when pressure is on to close business.

Solution High-performing KAM teams have leaders whose behaviour fits the role. They are given a team target to achieve, but no personal quota. They grant each member of their team no less than three hours of skills coaching each month, plus run monthly reviews of pipeline, accounts and deals to ensure activity is optimized. They jealously guard their

KAMs’ time, protect them from excessive red tape, and fight for the resources, pricing or contractual terms needed to retain and grow the accounts managed by the team. challenge 2


There is a tendency for KAMs to see their job as maintaining an existing contract more than ‘pushing their luck’ for new growth. While they play it safe, competitors bombard their customer with compelling ideas in an effort to land and expand. When a client lets a competitor through the door because they aren’t aware their existing supplier offers those products and services, it can cost dearly. Two insights stand out:

A Insufficient networking KAM relationships are often vested in a small cadre of people on the buyer and seller sides for reason of administrative convenience or politics. Buyer-side managers demand “don’t call over my head”, and vendor-side managers shout “run decisions past me first”. Such narrow channels create bottlenecks and single points of failure that stagnate information flow and inhibit action. They elevate risk if relations deteriorate with any one person or department.

Solution High-performing KAMs play along with gatekeepers and bosses, but also cultivate a virtual team of connections to whom they delegate conversations and actions. Just like a spider on a web, the more strands they cast out, the stickier the relationship becomes, and the more often the KAM hears emerging needs that they can respond to. Having metrics for networking, cross-selling and penetrating an account are absolutely fundamental.

B Reluctance to pitch KAMs aren’t always comfortable presenting unsolicited ideas to key accounts. It’s common to hear them describe their role as ‘farming’, yet completely ignore the need to plough fields and plant seeds (prospecting). KAMs agree it’s important to grow key accounts, yet not all can show where they’ve attempted to do so. The prevalence of such gaps imply many KAMs see their role as being excused from prospecting efforts.


Key account plans are so dense with words and graphs that they are only wheeled out when the boss wants to see that a plan exists – they are too unwieldy for daily use

Solution High-performing KAMs unapologetically prospect and market new ideas to their contacts. They stay informed on current affairs in their customer’s industry, and monitor their account’s competitors for insights. They master the jargon of the client’s industry, and attend its conferences. They get into the practice of sending “have you seen this?” notes by email, and post copies of printed articles using handwritten notes to explain why they think it’s relevant. Their goal is to show they’ve personally spent time thinking about the customer’s interests, which gains reciprocal loyalty. When KAMs open an account’s hearts and minds, they also open budgets. challenge 3


Who writes the key account plan? How often should it be shared with the customer? Should the customer help write it? What is the onboarding process for a new KAM? How should they be selected? What metrics are appropriate? How should the KAM interact with personnel responsible for finance, credit control, contracts, marketing and customer support? Will reviews be run, and if so, on what topic, by whom, and how often? How should contracts be renewed and extended? When is it appropriate to sell new ideas? Though not a complete list, it can be seen there are a number of inputs and outputs in a KAM process that need definition and management. Two observations hold true:

A Missing plans Despite a recognition that planning is important, KAMs in the study could rarely produce a roadmap for how their department functions, nor show how guidelines, tools and metrics fit together as parts of a system. Instead, much of what passes for ‘process’ in the KAM function appears to be a patchwork of ideas cobbled together from internet slideware, books and seminar manuals. It’s not uncommon to see key account plans so dense with words and graphs they are only wheeled out when the boss wants to see a plan exists – they are too unwieldy for daily use.

Solution High-performing KAM programmes map how each cog should turn, then assemble the machinery. When it comes to the key account plan itself, high performers believe in mutual disclosure with


multiple people in the account. If client personnel don’t know a planning document exists, or don’t recognize it as ‘their plan’, it won’t help the KAM build rapport, trust, or the business case to explore new ideas. The best plans are as lengthy as they need to be, and avoid the temptation of bulking up to look clever. The simplest plans focus on three areas: the relationship plan, the revenue plan and the action plan.

B Inappropriate roles Not all salespeople are suited to a KAM role. It’s traditional wisdom that ‘lone wolf’ sellers don’t always play well in a team, and ‘deal closers’ who thrive on the thrill of the chase can get bored in a slow-burning KAM role. These traits lead to some sellers being passed over when a KAM role is available. However there is growing evidence that diversity is the key to success.

Solution High-performing KAM leaders recognize people have different strengths, and play to these. Not everyone is a persuasive presenter or convincing closer. Not everybody is inclined to do account research or plan their meetings. But where people are not expert in all areas, they are often very good in a few of them. This is where the KAM function is undergoing an exciting renaissance. Teams are increasingly being assembled for the sum of their parts, with specific people engaged to complete the tasks they excel in, like in a production line. To explain this, consider the Mission:Impossible film franchise. Tom Cruise’s character receives a mission brief. He forms a plan and determines what skills are needed to execute that plan. Next he checks a talent database and assembles the team best suited for that mission: master of disguise; fast driver; explosives expert; technical genius. Mission accomplished. In practical terms, one KAM always serves as the main face to the customer. But for different tasks such as processing administration, researching industry trends, dealing with support requests, handling conflict, pitching new business, or negotiating terms, others from the team take the lead. For this to work, attention must be paid to cataloguing the company’s pockets of skill so an accurate talent map can be listed. KAMs must learn to lead a virtual team of people over whom they have no authority. Rewards must shift from the individual to the contributing team. The cultural and operational shifts required to support these new trends are significant, but so are the rewards. — This article is based on a presentation given by Professor Nicholas AC Read to the 2016 British Academy of Management conference Q1 2017 Dialogue



Futuristic business travel sales are a virtual reality Virtual reality will transform the way we buy and sell flights and hotel stays, writes Tony Donohoe

partnered with a creative studio to create a 3D virtual tour of its swanky new business-class cabins, utilizing Oculus Rift headsets: VR devices that were purchased by Facebook for a cool $2bn. The 3D tours showed prospective customers a highly realistic example of the gate-to-boarding experience.

Virtual voyage

“Well, we didn’t have that in my day,” every parent has uttered at one time or another – usually when a bored child won’t look up from a screen – as if their youth belongs in a Dickens novel. But truth lies behind their tortured nostalgia. Take the World Wide Web for instance: a service that wasn’t publicly available until 1991. To say the advent of the internet remodelled the face of the travel industry is a gross understatement. But, after that milestone, what’s next? With virtual reality (VR) devices coming to the market in 2016, could we see the face of travel change once more? How could business travel, in particular, evolve? In a recent study, Expedia found Dialogue Q1 2017

that 42% of UK millennials agree that holiday photos posted by social media contacts influence their choice of destination. While there are a few conclusions we could draw from this statistic, the most conspicuous seems to be that a growing audience is yearning for more authentic, more immersive experiences. And why wouldn’t they? After all, the days of flipping through brick-like brochures are gone. VR is the 21st-century travel brochure. Travel inspiration is now taken from real-time images and videos that pepper social media platforms and cradle the side of web pages. The response from the travel sector in light of these trends has been palpable. Earlier this year, United Airways

Allowing customers to explore their chosen seat, menu, gate, and even airport, gives the travel sector the opportunity to make VR an integral and effective part of the sales process. “Technology will also further enhance the travel inspiration and discovery phase,” says Gary Morrison, senior vice president and head of retail at Expedia Worldwide. In other words, business travellers will be able to demand a highly customized experience tailored to firsthand – albeit virtual – observations. Even affordable setups like the Google Cardboard viewing goggles (yours for around $15) offer a taste of what VR can offer. For newcomers, the VR experience is immersive and somewhat bewildering. Even the disappointing launch of Google Glass demonstrates that technology is paving the way for augmented devices, allowing us to communicate, work and play from the same screen. While we may be a little way from having a universal device that works seamlessly – and doesn’t look ridiculous – it is possible that VR headsets could be used by businesses to aid customer experiences. Just imagine: you kick back in the business lounge, strap on a VR headset and receive flight updates, texts, emails and notifications, all while you watch your favourite TV show. No rushing to find departure boards: just one chair and one headset with everything you need, pre-flight, to relax and stay connected. “The modern traveller wants a friction-


free, mobile-led experience,” says Kevin May, senior editor at travel news website Tnooz. As a business traveller, connectivity is key. With the help of VR, frequent flyers may have the opportunity to conference call, video chat or even attend meetings within virtual reality. Last year, Qantas became the first airline to offer an in-flight VR experience, adopting a Samsung headset: the Gear VR. The device allows passengers to browse products, watch films and preview destinations close up – the three-month trial gives passengers a taste of what we could look forward to in the near future.

With the help of VR, frequent flyers may have the opportunity to conference call, video chat or even attend meetings within virtual reality If you are a frequent flyer, you’ll know all too well that once you’re in the air, it becomes a priority to catch up on work and rest. If the latter is your primary concern, expect to see airlines scrap the once revolutionary backseat screen and, instead, plump for VR devices that connect you


with your personal video content. Platforms like Netflix are tipped to become an entertainment essential for luxury airliners, allowing passengers to continue watching their favourite shows. The quality and viability of this will depend on plane-makers being able to embed fast and frequent wifi connections aboard commercial aircraft. Need to work on a PowerPoint presentation? Is there a meeting you should attend? Soon, VR will have the capability to host virtual spaces, where game-like avatars are used to talk to other people. It is an innovation from tech startup AltSpaceVR. Who knows: one day we may even see our own office desks replicated in 3D.

Automotive experience

While Google’s driverless prototypes suggest that automated vehicles may be on the horizon, there are ways in which VR can help business travellers in the present. One of these is executive car rental. Instead of relying on 2D web images or on-the-day browsing, VR could allow business travellers to ‘physically’ test out rental companies’ fleets. Want something spacious? Comfortable? Just strap on your goggles in the airport business lounge and browse a virtual supermarket of SUVs, saloons and sports cars. Cynical about the effectiveness of VR being used in sales? Enter Jaguar Land Rover. The British car giant is using VR to design and sell cars, allowing prospective customers to ‘experience’ a new vehicle and choose interior features. It says VR has been “incredibly successful for driving purchases”. Business travel will be the next sector to exploit the new technology. — Tony Donohoe is chief technology officer at Expedia Inc — For more information about VR and travel, read Expedia’s Holiday of the Future report at bit.ly/holoffuture Q1 2017 Dialogue

Immediate impact, growing advantage. At A.T. Kearney, we pride ourselves on our uniquely collegial culture and care passionately about our work and our people. We offer our clients a range of global capabilities anchored in our heritage of essential rightness. The same promise we make to our clients—immediate impact, growing advantage—we offer to our people. Working together, we drive immediate results and help build lasting, transformational advantage. Consulting Magazine has recently named A.T. Kearney as one of the Best Firms to Work For 2014 and honored the firm with an Achievement Award for Excellence in Diversity. For more information about A.T. Kearney and to read some of our latest thinking, please visit www.atkearney.com.

A.T. Kearney is a leading global management consulting firm with offices in more than 40 countries. Since 1926, we have been trusted advisors to the world's foremost organizations. A.T. Kearney is a partner-owned firm, committed to helping clients achieve immediate impact and growing advantage on their most mission-critical issues. For more information, visit www.atkearney.com.


patrick woodman

Employees have too little faith in their managers. Repairing it should be central to your business strategy

The trust deficit Patrick Woodman is head of external affairs at the Chartered Management Institute

connected than ever before. This could be Trust matters. In our working lives as in termed ‘CIVIC’, as in civic engagement, but our personal lives, trust is essential to the also meaning Communications, Integrity, smooth functioning of any relationship. Visibility, Interaction and Connections. Amid the complexity of business in today’s Communications demand a economy, it’s a vital commodity – but commitment to openness and honesty. one that seems to be scarce for too Middle managers want to know what many organizations. their leaders are thinking – and they It demands that business leaders refocus on trust within their organizations. That has want them to admit mistakes. Leaders have to be candid, and keep communicating to extend beyond their role as individuals, their vision of the way ahead, especially in to the wider structures of the organization times of economic turbulence. – and, vitally, to middle managers. This Integrity and ethical standards are tier plays a pivotal role in the creation, also fundamental to trust. Delivering on maintenance and extension of trust in any promises and living up to the values and organization, acting as the transmission standards expected of others is vital. between senior leaders’ strategic aims and Visibility pays dividends too. Middle priorities. It makes them a focal point for managers clearly feel distanced from the creation, or destruction, of trust. senior leaders, and creative But what if those middle thinking is needed managers themselves don’t about how to reduce trust their leaders? Just one in that distance. Unfortunately, the three middle That visibility has to be evidence from a new managers fully trust partnered with interaction. CMI report suggests this their senior leaders Declarations that “the door is a problem for many is always open” aren’t organizations. Just one in enough. three (36%) of the 1,456 Finally, connections means middle managers we surveyed say they recognizing the critical role of middle fully trust their senior leaders. This ‘trust managers as connectors. They link those gap’ means only 31% of managers are “very shaping strategic direction to those confident” in communicating company delivering it, and have a vital role in strategy to their teams. engaging and motivating teams. They The knock-on effect among employees also connect across business areas, is clear: four in five also believe that between teams, and between the their staff lack full trust in their chief organizations and its external stakeholders. executive. But the results also link trust Of course, building these sorts of to business performance and growth. The behaviours may also take more investment overwhelming majority (85%) of both from employers in their middle managers senior leaders and middle managers agree and their capabilities. It’s a part of the trust is critical to performance: and the report finds that fast-growing organizations business all too often dismissed as a barrier to excellence rather than an enabler: are four-and-a-half times more likely ‘permafrost’ or ‘faceless bureaucrats’, to report a high degree of trust between among other pejorative terms. That has to middle and senior management. change. Middle managers should form the Of course, trust is fragile, more easily beating heart of a successful business. The broken than built. Improving levels can starting point may be refocusing on why take time and is rarely easy, especially trust is scarce, and how it can be repaired. when perpetual change is the norm for most organizations. Succeeding in — Download The Middle Manager Lifeline, this environment demands that middle published by CMI with Top Banana management is more agile, effective and bit.ly/cmimiddle Q1 2017 Dialogue




The four ages of leadership Reinvention is the mother of success, writes Professor Peter Hawkins

Dialogue Q1 2017


All the world’s a stage, And all the leaders and managers merely players, They have their exits and their entrances, And one leader in his time plays many parts, His acts being four or more ages A corruption of William Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man, from As You Like It

Renewal is the key to success. One of the many fascinating themes that have emerged from my global research (see page 75) is how many chief executives talked about the need of leaders to regularly reinvent themselves. They had to unlearn what has made them successful at one level of leadership, in order to discover how to be a new leader at another level of leadership. One international chief executive of an insurance company said: “Leaders face a learning crisis when they move from leading one size of group to a larger group. This happens at around 15 people, 50, 100, 200 and 1,000. As you progress you need to eat your own children – what made you successful at one stage will not make you successful at the next.” When asked what he would encourage young leaders of tomorrow to do in order to develop their leadership, some of his responses were: Put yourself in the flow of traffic Pierce your cocoon – visit different worlds

How to reinvent yourself

Firstly, recognize the difference between vertical development and horizontal development. Horizontal development is about acquiring capabilities such as skills, behaviours and tools to become more proficient at your current operational level. This is the territory that the majority of management and leadership development programmes occupy. It is also where most competencies and assessment frameworks focus. Vertical development is about our mindset, the framework in which we do our thinking and our relating. Bill

Torbert (2004) calls this our dominant ‘action logic’, for it is not about the sophistication of our thinking in the classroom or in times of reflection, but the way of thinking we use in the midst of action, dealing with challenges, in relation to others, be they employees, colleagues, customers, investors or other stakeholders. There has been much research and many models developed about the recognizable stages of adult development. Psychologists such as Kohlberg (1981) and Loevinger (1976) first extended the work of Piaget (1955 and 1977) on stages of child development to explore phases of adult development. This early work has been built on by writers such as Bill Torbert (2004) and Robert Kegan (2009) to look at the maturity levels within leaders. What they all recognize is that, as adults faced with a new context bringing a new range of challenges, we fall back on what has worked and made us successful in previous, less-complex environments. When this does not work, we are all prone to going into trying harder, putting in more effort or time, but this often makes succeeding even less likely. At these times what is needed is stepping back, reflecting not just on the situation, but the frame of thinking we are bringing to address it. The many different models have many differences. Yet they also have many parallel themes. They all recognize that, as the context in which we operate becomes more complex, so we need a framework of thinking that can handle such complexity. The four common stages I have written about in my own writings occur in the life stages of a successful professional career. They also occur in the stages of maturity in a leader of a team as they move from

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team manager, to team leader, to team orchestrator to team coach. For the purpose of this article, I have combined my own terminology with that used by Kegan and Torbert, and arrived at four ages of leader: 1 Outer directed 2 Self authoring 3 Systemic orchestrator 4 Eldership

the first age

Outer directed This age of leadership is characterized by trying to meet the goals, targets, and expectations of others, chiefly of those senior to themselves. For a functional leader, this may be the executive; for a member of the executive this may be the chief executive; and for the chief executive this may be the board, investors, market expectations or industry press. They are motivated by needing to prove themselves, and needing those more senior to rate them as successful.

the third age

Systemic orchestrator In this third age, the leader moves from being the hub around which the team or organization functions, to being an orchestrator. This involves listening skilfully to all of the leadership team members’ perspectives, as well as to the perspectives of the many varied stakeholders. This listening provides the foundation for the leader to then enable dialogue and collaboration in service of creating synergies across the different viewpoints and systemic needs.

Dialogue Q1 2017

the second age

Self authoring In this second age, the leader moves from being focused on the targets and goals set by others, to formulating their own success criteria, and communicating their vision and strategy to others, in order to enrol them in their mission. They become self-directed and directing of others.


the fourth age

Eldership This fourth and final age is when a leader manages to let go of responsibility and the need to control or be the leader. Instead they are focused on enabling the leadership of others. In this age, they may move into a portfolio career, taking on the role of mentoring younger leaders, being an adviser to industry bodies, and a non-executive to one or more companies. This last stage is less evident in western cultures, where many non-executives directors are backseat drivers, and many leaders take more and more responsibility until they retire or collapse. We have much to learn from indigenous peoples and eastern traditions of this last stage of development.

How to develop vertically through levels of leadership maturity

Over 40 years of studying individual and collective leadership, I have discovered, along with colleagues at Henley Business School, Bath Consultancy Group and Renewal Associates, that higher levels of leadership development cannot be taught, but they can be developed. If you try to teach an out-directed leader about progressing to a self-authoring or achiever style of leadership, they often reply: “Please tell me the seven steps that I have to follow to achieve that.” An attitude which demonstrably runs counter to self-authoring leadership. Similarly, if you try to teach a leader that is a self-authoring leader about higher levels of leadership maturity, they immediately want to know: “How do I get to be at the top level?” This attitude is the antithesis of reaching full leadership maturity, because fullymature elders have no emotional need to feel that they are leaders. Thus, the dominant mindset of the leader will instantly reduce the new teaching to fit their action logic.

Paradoxical seizure

THE RESEARCH At Henley Business School, I have been leading a major global research study to explore tomorrow’s leadership and how leadership development needs to radically transform today in order to develop the necessary leadership of tomorrow. This has involved carrying out interviews in 40 global companies with the chief executive, HR director and a Millennial future leader nominated by the organization; as well as interviews with thought-leaders, focus groups, and a survey of the best global surveys of chief executives, HR directors and Millennials.

Learning to move between the levels is fundamentally different to learning to develop greater horizontal skills, techniques and behaviours within a specific level of development. We have discovered that transiting from one level of development to another involves confounding the current mindset through experiencing what I call ‘paradoxical seizure’. This can be enabled by being in a situation where you want to succeed at achieving something, but are unable to do so within your current frame of thinking. In the research on tomorrow’s leadership, we have also been looking at what is necessary from today’s development to produce successful future leadership. To create leadership development that creates both vertical and horizontal development, it needs to be ‘challenge-based’. That means starting with not what we already know, but emergent organizational challenges – so called ‘wicked issues’ that no individual can solve by themselves. Even better to have challenges that everyone recognizes as important, but which cannot be resolved within our current way of thinking. Examples of applying such thinking to leadership development can be

found in our description of developing leadership training for the partners at Ernst & Young (Hawkins and Wright 2009), or in the work of Leaders’ Quest. Another organization asked me to help it develop its ‘leaders of tomorrow’. I asked its top team to shortlist the top organizational challenges to come over the next five years that it lacked the headspace or time to fully address. They then chose five from their shortlist as the core challenge for five cross-functional challenge teams, which were made up of ‘future leaders’, each mentored by a different member of the executive team, and supported by a change-team coach. The coach’s primary role was to facilitate the enabling condition that would hold the team in exploring the challenge. The coach would assist in bringing in different and varied systemic perspectives and expertise. They would then facilitate generative dialogue within the team in a way that avoided creating simplistic solutions within their current frame of thinking, and ensuring that the challenge and complexity created the necessary heat to forge new collective thinking. This coach would also introduce useful frameworks and tools as was helpful at various stages in the process.

The global challenge

We are not going to be able to address the complex ‘wicked issues’ of the hyper-connected and hyper-change world of the 21st century with 20thcentury thinking. The challenges of globalization, climate change, growing inequality, digitalization and robotics, and mass migration are just some of the main interconnected issues. Creating more effective vertical development, not just for executives but leaders at all levels, in organizations in the commercial, public and not-forprofit-sectors, as well as in communities globally, is an urgent task. We all have a responsibility to attend to our own adult maturity, and also to look at how we can parent our children and grandchildren to help them develop the leadership capacities that will be needed in the world of tomorrow. — Peter Hawkins is professor of leadership at Henley Business School, chairman of Renewal Associates, and emeritus chairman of Bath Consultancy Group. He is the author of a wide range of books on leadership and coaching Q1 2017 Dialogue




How to write your failure resume Be wary of those who have never failed. They have never tried, writes MS Rao

If you call failures experiments, you can put them in your resume and claim them as achievements

Mason Cooley

A ship is safe when it is in harbour. Does it mean it shouldn’t sail? Similarly, we all have only one life. Does that mean that we shouldn’t take risk and avoid danger forever? No. It is essential to explore and experiment as far as possible. A life spent making mistakes is far better than one failing to attempt anything. The poet George Woodberry rightly said: “Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.” People should not regret failure. Life is meant for trying, testing, failing, falling, learning, bouncing and growing towards the goal of success. Don’t treat failure as a stigma. Failure is an integral part of life to make life more interesting and exciting. A great way to achieve more is to write your

realize their inner power and potential. Adversity brings out the best in people. Failures make people take stock of the situation and assess their competencies and capabilities when they don’t take failures personally. Failures make people reinvent themselves and change their tools and techniques accordingly. If you haven’t failed you haven’t taken enough challenges. In fact, failures expand your skills and mental horizons and you tend to think in unconventional ways to anticipate threats from external environments. A failure resume helps both new jobseekers and working professionals analyse reasons for their failures, learn lessons, respect the failures of others – and move forward with empathy and humility.

F I V E S T E P S T O A FA I L U R E C V You must learn to document failures to learn lessons and move forward successfully. Here is how to write your failure resume:

Step 1 Divide your document into four columns.

If you haven’t failed you haven’t taken enough challenges failure resume. That probably sounds strange. Everyone talks about success, while few people highlight their failures. Yet “some of the most important and insightful learning is far more likely to come from failures than from success” former Procter & Gamble chief executive AG Lafley says. Indeed, many great leaders bounced back from their failures and succeeded through their tenacity and resilience (see panel, right).

Importance of failures

Harvard business professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter notes: “One difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing.” People’s real stamina surfaces when they fail. As long as people are in their comfort zones they may not Dialogue Q1 2017

Step 2

List your failures in the first column in reverse ascending order of failures, from major ones to minor ones.

Step 3

In the second column, write why you have failed – note whether it was due to internal threats or external threats.

Step 4

In the third column, state how you have failed.

Step 5

In the fourth column, outline the lessons you have learned, to avoid repeating the failure in future.

All career aspirants must write a failure resume to find out what made them fail in their lives, so they can take preventive measures to minimize mistakes and maximize success rate. It is essential to learn more from failures than from success – success may go to people’s heads while failures make them more humble.


T H R E E G R E AT L E A D E R S W H O B O U N C E D B AC K F R O M FA I LU R E The B-Movie President Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan grew up in a poor Illinois family. A former trade union leader for the Screen Actors Guild, he was a symbol of determination, whose success was the result of overcoming hardships and challenges. In 1949, his first wife, Jane Wyman, divorced him. His film career was decidedly mediocre. But Reagan did not lose his heart, he entered politics. He lost to Gerald Ford in the 1976 Republican primary campaign. But, even this defeat did not break his spirit. Instead, Reagan learned several lessons out of these failures and setbacks. Each failure made him tougher, stronger and wiser – and enhanced his determination to fight the odds that were stacked against him. In 1980 he was elected President of the United States, and was reelected in 1984, carrying a record 49 of the 50 states in the union, and serving the maximum two presidential terms.

The Victorious Loser Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln is a personification of hope. He was the first Republican president and 16th president of the US. Yet it took many years for him to taste success. And he achieved success after hitting successive setbacks in his life. He lost his job and failed in business. He was defeated in several early forays in the world of politics. However, he learnt lessons, reinvented himself and grew. The lessons he learned throughout his life helped become the President of the US, evolve as a great leader to win the Civil War, abolish slavery – and restore America’s morale.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

The Tenacious Spark Thomas Edison Edison failed a number of times. When asked how he felt about failures, he said that he had not failed – but learned a number of unsuccessful methods for creating a lightbulb. He once noted: “I think and think for months and years, 99 times, the conclusion is false. The 100th time I am right. It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Failures enhance your success rate provided you learn lessons from them and move forward without taking them personally.

Discovery path Learn more... about harnessing the power of failure www.bit.ly/ ddpfailureresume Q1 2017 Dialogue


news nation

The thwarted peacekeeper A knife-edge rejection by referendum of a peace deal to bring Colombia’s Marxist guerrillas into its political process has rocked Latin America



Do you support the final agreement to end the conflict and build a stable and lasting peace?

Predicted result



66.0% 34.0% Yes



Actual result

50.2% 49.8%









Land area

Official languages

440,831 (1,141,748 sq km)



sq mi




GNI per capita

Life expectancy


78 Women

Major religions

Christianity 71 Men Dialogue Q1 2017

Free Wind 2014 / Shutterstock


the killing fields


Year the Colombian Armed Conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) began


Estimated deaths from Latin America’s longest conflict


Proportion of population in Colombia that has been a direct victim of the war

news nation


Your Dialogue



Proportion of Colombia’s drug trade controlled by the Farc

$200 million to $3.5 billion

Annual revenue from cocaine trade earned by the Farc

How sad. It seems Colombia has forgotten about the cruelty of war, our deaths, our injured, our mutilated, our victims and the suffering we’ve all lived through Adriana Rivera, philosophy professor and ‘Yes’ supporter

social scene

Follow us on twitter @dialoguetweets Follow the editor @brjwalker Giuseppe Lucido @Lucido Sep 9 Giuseppe Lucido retweeted Dialogue RT @dtapscott: Man, this is jam packed with goodness… Wendy Johnstone @WJJohnstone Sep 15 Great team #leadership advice via @dialoguetweets How to stop good teams failing #manage Talent Analytics @TalentAnalytics Sep 21 Four bad habits of super-smart #leaders via @dialoguetweets #CSuite Neal Schaffer @NealSchaffer Sep 29 A smarter way to implement employee advocacy programs via @DialogueTweets #employeeadvocacy

F. A. Alba / Shutterstock

Rudi Plettinx @rudiplettinx Sep 29 Re-humanizing leadership via @dialoguetweets

DIALOGUE IS BROUGHT TO YO U B Y… editorial board

PROPOSED PEACE DEAL Key areas of proposed peace deal with the Farc, rejected in a 2016 referendum a bilateral ceasefire reduced sentences for paramilitaries that confessed their crimes rural reform

government aid for Farc guerrillas who wanted to reintegrate into society guaranteed political participation for Farc activists

Dr Liz Mellon, chairman Tom Albanese, chief executive, Vendanta Resources Michael Canning, chief executive, Duke Corporate Education Professor Pedro Nueno, president, China Europe International Business School Karina Robinson, chief executive, Robinson Hambro Ben Walker, editor, Dialogue editorial

Ben Walker, editor Kate Harkus, art director Luisa Cheshire, chief subeditor Miro Iliev, social media executive management

We never thought this could happen. Now I just hope the government, the opposition and the Farc come up with something intelligent that includes us all Mabel Castano, sociologist and ‘No’ voter

Martin Liu, publisher Niki Mullin, business development manager niki.mullin@lidpublishing.com Charlotte Hutchinson, communications executive publishing

Disclaimer Copyright 2016 by Duke Corporate Education and LID Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission of the publisher. While we take care to ensure that editorial is accurate, independent, objective and relevant for the readers, Dialogue accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction rising from the content of this publication. The opinions expressed or advice given are the views of individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Dialogue. This journal is also supported by Knowledge Partners, including Duke Corporate Education as Lead Knowledge Partner. Whenever an author is related to a Knowledge Partner it will be noted as such. Dialogue takes every effort to credit photographers but we cannot guarantee every published use of an image will have the contributor’s name. If you believe we have omitted a credit for your image, please email the editor. ISSN 2053-4361 Printed by Pensord www.pensord.co.uk

Published in the United Kingdom by LID Publishing, 1 Adam Street, London WC2

Q1 2017 Dialogue



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Raise a glass to a miracle Chinese pioneer The JD.com Story is a ripping yarn that breaks the mould of most corporate histories, finds Ben Walker

The JD.com Story LID Publishing bit.ly/jdcomstory

Dialogue Q1 2017

Few Westerners will recognize in themselves the extraordinary drive in JD.com founder Richard Liu. His ambition led to his answering customer complaints personally in the early hours, and sending directives to his staff at midnight. The breathless approach worked for him – JD.com is East Asia’s homegrown answer to Amazon – but in The JD.com Story Liu warns others against it, expressing doubts on whether what the book calls ‘the Chinese model’ is sustainable. But nor does Liu rate what the text brands ‘the European model’ – using work and financial gain merely as a passport to a more leisure-filled existence. The sweet spot, says Liu, is somewhere in the middle – a mixture of work and play: making Jack (or Richard) neither a lazy nor a dull boy. Not that anyone could ever accuse Liu – or the book in which he stars – of being dull. Corporate histories often do fall into that trap – too much work, not enough play – but this one is different. We are treated to colourful accounts of late-night drinking sessions – Liu tells how he mastered the art of appearing sober at company events when extremely well served. And there are entertaining anecdotes about Liu’s unorthodox methods – he spends a day every year delivering JD.com’s orders personally, using the opportunity to communicate faceto-face with customers, and to remember the hard work his staff do daily. The book’s idioms often sparkle: “Newborn calves don’t know enough to be afraid of tigers,” is a management message that endures: never underestimate – or underexploit – the fearlessness of the young. Once a fearless calf himself, Liu, along with a handful of his entrepreneurial contemporaries, played their part in transforming China. When the book’s author, Li Zhigang, was in his youth, the idea of a nationwide, flat-priced, mail order company seemed a distant dream. Even if those living outside the major cities were able to buy consumer goods, they paid a prohibitive premium for it. An electric rice cooker that sold for 99 yuan in metropolitan areas went for 139 yuan in village stores. Liu introduced nationwide logistics, bulk ordering

and ultra-aggressive pricing to render this vast land smaller. The JD.com Story reflects the story of China itself – the growth from commercial backwater to global superpower within the space of a few decades. A nation of miracles requires miracleworkers, and the book suggests Liu is one of them: a potent confection of boundless energy, otherworldly determination – and a very human sense of fun and gregariousness. If Liu is the star of the piece, alcohol is the leading lady – the drinking culture in the early years of JD.com is documented unashamedly. When the company was getting off the ground, employees would work late into the evening several nights a week, subsisting on pancakes or noodles. Liu sometimes invited them out to dinner instead, so they could enjoy better food, and he could listen to their ideas. The meals were well fuelled. “The drinking culture at JD was like no other,” writes Li Zhigang. “It was about courage. You had to have the guts to drink like a fish with the others even if a glass of beer was enough to knock you out.” The pressure was heightened because Liu was consistently the last man standing – and the first to morningafter meetings despite consuming a skinful the night before. While the book credits the drinks parties as creating an atmosphere of openness and innovation – alcohol oiling the wheels – things are different today. JD’s concerns for its employees’ health have, the author suggests, turned off the beer tap. The boozy evenings might now be a note of history, yet Liu’s world view – that ideas should be cultivated from a company’s employees – persists. Once a reluctant signatory to the modern-day management ideas of forwardthinkers like Drucker, Liu has come to embrace them. His epiphany came when rereading some of Drucker’s texts and realizing that the great leadership guru was right to preach that no single individual could manage a major company, and that the formation of a powerful management team was crucial. Liu, through whom everything once flowed, was heard telling the chief executive of subsidiary JD Mall,


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XiXinXing / Shutterstock


“This is not my business. You can make your own decisions. Don’t ask me.” In truth the JD founder was regularly tempted to take back control, but he always stopped himself. He learned to devolve power. This can’t have been easy. If Liu’s is a story of a breathless adventurer, genial drinking buddy and sponge-like ideas gatherer, it is also the biography of a strict master and commander. He could be unsympathetic even – and especially – to his loved ones. The tale of his relationship with his young cousin Wu Jie reads more like that of an elder brother into whose care his younger sibling had been entrusted; of a parent with no experience of parenting. Wu, who was raised with Liu in their grandmother’s home,

This is a close-quarters tale of one man’s struggle to make hay as a whole nation harvests was unable to count to ten when he started school. Liu withheld his young cousin’s evening meals until he learned. Years later, when Wu played truant to learn martial arts, Liu made a special trip back from Beijing to reprimand him. Wu was defiant – so Liu slapped him. When they were both in adulthood, Liu told him to be loyal to the Chinese civil service despite Wu’s testimony that he was bored and underpaid. Only when his relative had put in three years’ service did he win Liu’s blessing to leave. This tough, quasi-paternalistic role was

reflected in Liu’s work life. Some of the accounts of his exchanges with employees might seem blunt to European audiences – Liu would approach executives and ask them the price of an item, if they couldn’t recall instantly he’d ask them what they did all day – but this is probably a consequence of cultural differences between China and the West. Liu is well aware of that divide, and cites an English baker he once visited as emblematic of it. Everyday the baker produces hundreds of loaves. But if it runs out – even if there are many more potential customers in the queue – it simply shuts its doors and announces that the bread has sold out for the day. “If he knows he can sell ten loaves of bread a day, a Chinese person won’t sleep if he only sells nine,” Liu is quoted as saying. “He’ll try to sell 11 tomorrow.” Liu is doubtful that the Chinese economic miracle would ever have happened were Chinese bakers as relaxed as some Englishmen are with baking less bread than they can sell. Between The JD.com Story’s cultural insights lie thorough accounts of the company’s rise to global e-commerce leader. Much of the technical detail of the challenges faced by those in charge of digital projects may prove too esoteric for the casual reader, yet they are an important element in a book that strives as hard to be comprehensive as it does to be entertaining. Its depth of information ought not discourage those who seek a window into the Chinese miracle. This is a close-quarters tale of one man’s struggle to make hay as a whole nation harvests. It is as much compelling biography as keynote corporate history. Q1 2017 Dialogue



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the learning curve with mike conner

When you lose a star employee, you also lose the great stuff they carry around in their heads. It doesn’t have to be like this

How to beat corporate brain drain It can take years for companies to build knowledge bases. Yet, once constructed, they help capture learning in a way that provides insight into organizational competencies. Knowledge bases create a competitive advantage. But with 70% of learning taking place informally, capturing and sharing information that adds to an organization’s capabilities is becoming more difficult. The biggest challenge with informal learning is that companies often lack a central place to collaborate and share knowledge in a way the information can be retained. Corporations spend a lot of time investing in competency mapping, aligning training content with company objectives, and in platforms and content designed to build learning organizations. With these investments, more often than not, we end up with closed platforms to facilitate learning. Although these systems track participation and course completion, they are mainly designed to distribute content rather than foster conversation. The alternative to closed platforms and employees learning informally, is adopting a single collaborative platform that provides some structure to informal learning, but also gives employees the freedom to learn together with peers. The best part about having one central platform? Knowledge is captured longterm, regardless of whether employees leave. More of that later.

Swamped by tools

In an effort to improve collaboration within organizations and cut down on the number of emails sent, tools like HipChat, Slack and Google Drive have emerged. These tools open up an entirely new challenge when it comes to tracking knowledge. For example, I use several collaborative tools every day. Though the number of internal emails I receive has declined, the challenge now is finding buried information among Dialogue Q1 2017

various Slack channels and Google Docs. When it comes to collaborating with a colleague, not only do I have to track down the information, I have to grant access and, ironically, send an email notification to the intended recipient.

Though the number of internal emails I receive has declined, the challenge now is finding buried information among various Slack channels and Google Docs Collaborative tools like those mentioned above may help streamline communication among teams, but when it comes time to revisit the information, we often prefer to duplicate our original effort rather than waste valuable time searching through threads and documents. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use one, searchable platform to collaborate, discuss trends, and share ideas and concepts?

Goodbye stars, hello knowledge

There are a lot of resources out there that talk about retaining talent and motivating loyalty. But, let’s face it, it’s often our best and brightest employees who are presented with new opportunities. When they leave our organizations, we notice the impact of that missing person’s contribution to our organizational knowledge. Regardless of how we handle a transition, the moment the direct

source of specific information leaves the company, their knowledge leaves too. By adopting a collaborative learning programme from the beginning, employers do not have to worry as much about retaining each employee’s knowledge base. As long as the employee participates in the learning experience within the platform – which most of our stars do – their knowledge is tracked. No matter how much time passes, anyone within the organization can easily search past comments, information that has been shared, detailed notes, interpretations of concepts and the like. Ultimately, businesses retain knowledge and perspectives from every employee. At BlueBottleBiz, we understand the effects of unstructured informal learning, as well as the reality of turnover. It’s for these reasons that we place so much emphasis on our collaboration and tracking capabilities. The process of sharing information, learning from one another, and capturing knowledge in a searchable, user-friendly platform ensures organizational knowledge and expertise continues to add value. As you finalize your plans for 2017, consider how your organization captures and retains knowledge. Are you ahead of the game when it comes to defeating organizational brain drain? If not, maybe it’s time to update your systems so you can centralize collaboration and make interactions discoverable now and into the future. — Mike Conner is chief evangelist at BlueBottleBiz

knowledge numbers


Proportion of learning taking place informally or between peers


Proportion of a worker’s salary that it typically costs to replace an employee


Proportion of employees that want opportunities for career growth


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piers cain on books

Technology poses a threat to professionals’ wealth and value

Prospects of a dark future Piers Cain is a management consultant

The authors predict that the professions will go the way of the handloom weaver in the Industrial Revolution, blasted away by technological transformation

The premise of The Future of the Professions is that fundamental and irreversible changes are afoot in the way expertise traditionally provided by key professions is made available to society. Perhaps more alarming for professionals, the authors predict that the professions as we know them will go the way of the handloom weaver in the Industrial Revolution, blasted away by the forces of technological transformation. The authors, Richard and Daniel Susskind, have impressive credentials. Professor Richard Susskind is president of the Society for Computers and Law. Daniel Susskind is not only a lecturer in economics at Balliol College, Oxford, but also served as an adviser to the British government in various capacities. So we can rely on the depth of the research supporting this publication – although it is worth noting that the amount of statistical evidence the Susskinds present is surprisingly sparse. The authors begin by pointing out that, although we think we know what we mean by the professions (lawyers, medical doctors, journalists and so on), they are in fact a somewhat amorphous group that share a family of characteristics – although virtually none of them exhibit them all. These include having specialist knowledge; needing specific credentials for admission; being regulated by a licence to practise or a code of practice; or being bound by a common set of values. The authors argue that there are irresistible forces driving change in professional services, the three most important being unmanageable increases in the volume of data; rising demand making professional expertise unaffordable to society; and the unstoppable rise in computer processing capacity – IT development and robotics will mean that machines will replace humans in many areas of professional activity. The authors make a convincing case that fundamental change is on the way, and provide many examples of how the innovations they predict are already being tried out by early adopters. However, they are careful to avoid making predictions

about the timescale or exactly what the transformation will look like in any particular profession. Their claim about the direction of travel seems plausible. Yet in some ways the book is closer to a fascinating thought experiment than a work of actionable insights. In other words they are stronger on ‘why’ and ‘how’ rather than on ‘what’ or ‘when’. So what does it mean for managers and management consultants? The authors point out that strategy firms have already moved much of their routine work offshore, and there is a trend towards packaging consultancy products rather than offering a bespoke service. The cost of developing sophisticated analytical systems may squeeze out the smaller players. So, for many professionals, work may become less independent, less of a craft – and possibly less well paid. Change may come more quickly than in other professional areas because, as the authors remark, “the lack of formal boundaries does allow the large consultancy businesses to diversify more radically than other professions may be inclined”. Management consultancies are likely to become enthusiastic adopters of innovation, especially those practices that have adopted results-based contracts (as opposed to charging traditional daily rates), where there will be a financial incentive to find efficiencies. Although we cannot know the future, it is reasonable to assume that substantial changes to working practices are on the cards in the medium term. Those that have the best chance of prospering will be those who are adaptable – or have skills and attributes that are difficult for a machine to replicate: imagination, creativity, empathy and the ability to lead and motivate people. Fortunately these are the core skills of a good manager. — The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind, Oxford University Press bit.ly/futureofprofessions Q1 2017 Dialogue













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in association with

A journey inside the human brain that will make you brighter The mental health of you and your leaders is a powerful determinant of business success. This book helps you decode your most powerful – and most dangerous – tool, writes Ben Walker

Imagine human beings were computers. Every time someone set us a task, we’d begin it from scratch – that’s what most computers do. Keiron Sparrowhawk introduces his book with the example of asking a computer to find the highest prime number. Every time a machine is told to beat the record, it starts out from the bottom: 2, 3, 5, 7… until it reaches the mindboggling levels where records are broken. Sparrowhawk argues that it’s safer that most computers fail to develop themselves – because were the computer to learn, it could learn something bad, something wrong, and be at risk of a major malfunction. For good or ill, however, humans cannot help but learn. And sometimes the unpleasant bits we take on board – the bad code in computer terms – cause major malfunctions in us too. Executive Function is a deep, accessible exploration of self-deployed elevation, namely the learning process that allows the human brain to develop over our lives. It contains practical selfassessments that enable one to quantify one’s own executive function. Meanwhile, illuminating case studies from the worlds of management and leadership demonstrate how the powerful and successful command high executive function – making them able to analyse situations, identify opportunities and develop strategies to exploit them. Those fascinated by the science of management psychology will be compelled, too, by Sparrowhawk’s exploration of the working memory – the key cognitive tool in calculating and making decisions. The tale of how


a p p s fo r l e a d e r s : s ta n d o u t

Standout is the stand-out app for leadership, writes Perry Timms There aren’t that many leadership development apps specifically built to help you be the best leader you could be. Sure there’s TED.com and a range of productivity apps. Yet to be a better leader requires the focus of habit, learning, application, review and, most of all, synchronicity with the busy world we operate in. Marcus Buckingham is famous for his book First Break All The Rules, and philosophy ‘Standout’. His app has important habit-forming aspects, together with the ability to journal your time and link to larger aspirational development activities. More specifically, Standout has:

a once good manager became a poor, bullying one after stress and overwork eroded her working memory, will resonate with anyone who has directly or indirectly experienced the sudden decline of a leader. At the heart of Sparrowhawk’s book is the clear truth that mental health, just like its physical counterpart, is nonbinary. Sanity is not an on-off switch, but a sliding scale. This thoughtful, important work brings the realization that we have to care for our brains as we would our limbs. — Executive Function Keiron Sparrowhawk LID Publishing

ynamic teaming – without the need D to plot who is working with who on an org chart, you can connect people to each other to show how teams have banded together. And updates show you how they’ve disbanded and reassembled on to a new project Check-ins – reminders and records of what’s important to your team to help you focus on their needs and help set priority activities and direction Real-time engagement – why wait for pulse surveys when this tool gives you up-to-the-minute ratings and commentary on how committed, applied and positive people are about your leadership? Next-generation performance management – dashboards and algorithms help produce unbiased assessments of performance Adapting a coaching approach to leadership and management, this app warrants a good look into whether technology can really help leaders learn and adapt to what their people need. — Standout is available from iOS only at present. — Perry Timms is an independent HR/OD practitioner, speaker, writer and CIPD adviser on social media and engagement. Tweet him @PerryTimms Q1 2017 Dialogue


last word

karina robinson

Germany is uncharacteristically struggling for air

Europe’s weakest link is its biggest economy Karina Robinson is chief executive of Robinson Hambro

Germany is not going bust. But it is facing a set of challenges that would test any country Dialogue Q1 2017

Which country, dear reader, is the weakest link in Europe? Greece, with its annual debt reschedulings? Italy, with its banking crisis of massive proportions? Spain, with no government in eight months of trying? These great nations all have their problems. Yet I would argue that it is mighty Germany, whose economy makes us all sigh with envy, which is looking shaky. Its institutions have lost credibility, its economy is facing headwinds. And its people are angry. Let us take those in turn. Angela Merkel, in power for over a decade, certainly counts as an institution. Her approval ratings are at record lows, even as she mulls running for a fourth term. This autumn, her party had its worst-ever regional election result, polling in third place behind the AfD (Alternative for Deutschland). The AfD with its antiimmigrant, anti-Muslim stance is making huge strides on the back of Merkel’s ‘open door’ policy on refugees a year ago. Merkel’s modus operandi hasn’t changed – taking her time, seeking consensus, moving her centre-right party, the CDU, towards the popular centre ground. But public opinion has changed, and Germans increasingly see her refugee strategy as ineffective and misguided. Another institution, Deutsche Bank, poses the biggest risk to the global financial system, according to the IMF. Germany’s banking system in general is not that healthy. The country is overbanked, useful for financing business, but, as we saw in the financial crisis, when there aren’t enough profits at home, the temptation to buy risky assets increases. And what about Volkswagen? An institution that stood for all we admired in German manufacturing turns out to have been faking emissions results. That lack of trust also applies to the press. In fact, the Germans have coined a word for it: lugenpresse – ‘liar’s press’. On the economic front, Germany’s obsession with achieving a balanced budget means its much-vaunted infrastructure is suffering from chronic

underinvestment. Even transport minister Alexander Dobrindt admits “there is a lot of catching up to do”. The German post-war consensus – that policy decided between government, business and trade unions would boost growth and protect workers – has also suffered a collapse. Following the Hartz reforms, German workers accepted years of salary restraint, while during the financial crisis they agreed a shorter working week to protect jobs. Yet there is increasing inequality, automation is making inroads, and 6.1% unemployment looks likely to rise, not least because of Brexit. Last year, Germany exported €89 billion worth of goods to the UK. Cars were a major part of that. The collapse in sterling won’t help their trade. Plus, there is a deep division between German business – which is looking for continued access to the UK – and German politicians, who have to juggle their voters’ jobs with the need to make exiting the EU as difficult as possible, to avoid other countries following suit. If internally there are problems, these are mirrored on the international stage. Germany is becoming ever more lonely. US Treasury secretary Jack Lew recently stated that there was a consensus about putting growth ahead of austerity in the developed world. Yet this is not true for Germany. Finance minister – and putative heir to Merkel – Wolfgang Schauble insists that “the debt-financed growth model has reached its limits”. Meanwhile, southern Europeans say the euro is simply a devalued Deutschmark – of benefit to German exporters but a disaster for the Mediterranean states. Germans, instead, believe they are continually bailing out southern EU members, and do not understand their neighbours’ ungratefulness. Germany is not going bust. But it is facing a set of challenges that would test any country. The rest of Europe, and the world, depends on its finding a way forward through myriad obstacles.

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