Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Boyles: An Extraordinary Business Lesson from an Ordinary Woman

Over 50 million viewings at YouTube and dozens of news stories across the world prove that Susan Boyle's amazing talent has finally been discovered.

But, is the real story why this Susan Boyles the "new" sensation went unnoticed even when her powerful voice was featured on a charity album ten years ago?

On Britain's Got Talent, Susan Boyle said her dream was just trying to be a professional singer the likes of multiple award winning Elaine Paige--so famous in Britain that she's called The First Lady of British Theatre. The thousand-plus members of the audience were literally snickering. The acerbic judge duo of Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan barely concealed eye rolls capable of creating tsunamis of cynicism.

As Ms. Boyle's prepared to open her mouth, everyone in the room prepared for the discomfort of being embarrassed for her. She had picked "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables for her audition. Simon simply commented, "A big song."

Within a few notes, the audience was suddenly standing, wildly cheering her on. The judges gasped in appreciation. The strong clear, pitch-perfect bell-like tones ringing from this most unlikely singer visibly moved the audience and the judges. By the end, some actually had tears in their eyes.

To say that this common women surprised both the judges and audience is the grandest understatement. Stupefied, inspired, and humbled would be more appropriate. Given a chance and fully expected to fail, it became obvious that the standing ovation that began within the first bars of her performance was much about her audience being personally lifted and inspired by the extra-ordinariness of a quite ordinary woman.

Beyond a beautiful voice, Ms. Boyle's gift to her audience is the proof that when given the opportunity, even a 47 year old (almost 48 as she candidly points out), matronly, never-married woman from a small Scottish town can shatter all expectations.

Including you, how many Susan Boyles do have working for you?

© 2009 Paul E. Rondeau

New Study: High Need, Low Expectations

Managers currently identify a small percentage of their workforce as performing at "go-to" levels on a consistent basis, according to the "Talent Development Issues" study conducted by Novations Group Inc.

At a time when organizations are struggling to "do more with less," the study revealed a discrepancy between leadership expectations and management behavior. Almost 60% of all managers believe that no more than 1 in 5 of their employees consistently perform at a 'go
to' level. The percentage of employees managers consider performing at "go-to" levels on a consistent basis:
<5 %: 8 %
10 %: 20 %
20 %: 30 %
30 %: 15 %
40 %: 8 %
>50 %: 6 %
Don't know: 13 %

Additionally, the study revealed that almost half of these managers believe some employees have more potential than others and use that belief to give job assignments to a select few.
With respect to developing employee potential, which of the following best describes the prevailing belief of management at your organization?
  • 34 percent believe everyone is capable of performing at higher levels, and their job is to provide growth opportunities to all.
  • 47 percent believe some employees have more potential than others, and their job is to identify the ones who have potential and invest in that population.
  • 15 percent don't have one prevailing belief system.
  • 4 percent don't know.

This indicates most managers believe their job is to identify the employees they believe have potential and invest in them. "The reality is that most managers make assignments based on predictable....

...continued here in volume 1 issue 3 of GrayMatter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CAUTION: Cause Marketing can be hazardous to your health.

“Cause marketing” is the term being used today to describe all manner of crosspromotional efforts betweenfor-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations. More than 1 of every 4 retailers are promoting charities at some level — and the Web seems to be speeding that growth.

Research shows 64% say they for cause marketinghave purchased from a brand because it supported a cause they believe in. A 2001 survey suggested that 81% would choose one brandover another if a cause wereinvolved, assuming price andquality were similar.

If you have done due diligence,and your stakeholdersunderstand and believe in thecause, great! But sales people—with noble titles in the nonprofit world like corporate outreach or community development officer — have their own agendas which may not coincide with your best interests.

Never ever assume your customers share the values to which you are hitching your corporate wagon just because the nonprofit makes that claim.

Sources: FutureNow; Synapse Associates

Rope-a-dope & sting like a bee.

To effectively deal with uncertainty, organizations need to have the two main characteristics of professional boxers: agility and the power of absorption.

Organizational agility is the ability to dentify and capitalize on opportunities faster than the competition, providing the firm with a competitive advantage.

Organizations with operational agility can identify opportunities to improve processes, which will generate cost reductions and quality improvements. Asset or portfolio agility allows firms to quickly reallocate resources such as cash and talent to more attractive units. Strategic agility is management's ability to seize gamechanging opportunities that can quickly create a great deal of

Taking advantage of these opportunities may require entering a new market aggressively or taking a chance on a new technology that competitors have not yet embraced. Firms also need to absorb damage and wait for golden opportunities to come along; to do this, they need to have the adequate size, diversity, and cash reserves available.

One example of adapting to this environment is GE. They are breaking into a number of independent units that can make decisions quickly despite high levels of absorption.

So if you want to be a business champion, train like Ali: to take a punch and still sting like a bee.

Source: Harvard Business Review (02/09)
Vol. 87, No. 2, P. 78;

Hired on experience, fired on personality

In a study of 500 managers on 3 continents, Egon Zehnder International found that unsuccessful managers, each with exceptional IQ's and experience, lacked emotional intelligence. (Sometimes referred to as emotional strength.)

Psychologist and researcher Daniel Goleman, discovered that emotional intelligence skills account for an astounding 90 percent of the success of senior leaders. A growing consensus on professional leadership shows that people who rise to the top of their field from finance to law, to medicine or other aren’t just good at their jobs. They’re affable, resilient and optimistic.

In other words, traditional cognitive intelligence, or IQ, may not be enough. It also takes 'emotional intelligence' or EQ: the ability to restrain negative feelings such as anger and self-doubt, and instead focus on positive ones such as confidence and congeniality.

In his 1995 book, Goleman organizes emotional intelligence into four Domains: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. Debate remains on the definition of EQ but such studies add new metrics to the old mantra of executive recruiters: "Hired on experience, and fired on personality."

Whereas IQ is relatively fixed, emotional intelligence (or strength) can be learned. So how do you increase workplace EQ? The best way is to work with a professional qualified to teach EQ skills.

But what’s the payoff?
Not only is job performance enhanced but higher EQ can improve relationships in every area of life. With the costs of turnover ( 150% of payroll) and workplace conflicts, that's a terrific ROI.

Sources: ASTD, APA, and
Pierce Management Development

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

[What changes will you need to make?]

In 1994 when Forrest Gump uttered those immortal words in the movie of the same name, was he talking about businesses 2009?

A communications mentor of mine recently made this observation: “Why do we call people stupid when they should be called morons? After all, it takes intelligence to do something truly
stupid!” He explained that the root of stupid is the Latin stupidus = stup(ēre) to be numb or stunned.

Granted, this was hair splitting. Anyway, we don’t knowingly hire morons (a person of borderline intelligence) or idiots (utterly foolish or senseless) to run our business. But in an ever more competitive and complex market, our own business intelligence can be numbed and stunned through habit and events beyond our control.

Layoffs, cutbacks, and pulling other levers that worked previously just may not work in 2009...and even be counterproductive. A crisis offers opportunity beyond survival for those who can conquer their fear of change, anticipate, plan, and then execute intelligent change.

A humorous and true definition of stupidity is to continue to do the same things but expect a different result. Isn’t this also true of continuing to do the same old things in a totally different

P. Rondeau

Culture Impacts Bottom Line

[Is your environment really compatible to your goals?]

A new survey from Waterstone Human Capital of senior Canadian executives finds that Eighty-two percent of respondents said culture had a strong impact on the bottom line. Those listed in Waterstone’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures reported three-year revenue growth and asset growth 63 percent higher than the top 60 Canadian companies listed on the S&P/TSX 60.

Revenue growth, turnover, and productivity were all positively affected. According to 90% of respondents, the key force behind instilling a successful corporate culture is the company’s leadership. The most successful companies build business models around their culture, according to Waterstone managing director Marty Parker.

Evaluation of the companies included vision and leadership, cultural alignment, measurement and sustainability, rewards, recognition and innovative business achievement, corporate performance, and corporate social responsibility. WestJet, Yellow Pages, Boston Pizza International, Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts, and Intuit Canada made the list.

Montreal Gazette (11/29/08)
P. G2