Category Archives: Guest Posts
This guest post is from Jim Haudan, the CEO of Root, Inc., a renowned strategy and culture change organization that helps other companies “get their strategy out of the boardroom and into the hearts and minds of everyone in the organization.” Jim has co-authored a new book “What Are Your Blind Spots?” with Rich Berens. Today’s post is an excerpt form the Root Blog and highlight some of the principles in their book.
Words are poor conveyers of meaning. Pictures can be one of the most versatile tools in any leader’s toolbox. Michelangelo started the David in 1501 at the age of 26 and famously said: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” He was intensely focused on freeing the slumbering figures in the stone.
Similarly, Picasso was able to visualize and capture realism in his painting from a young age, and evolved so immensely throughout his career eventually co-founded the cubist movement.
For many of us, our best “artistic” moments happen on a napkin sketch at the kitchen table or at a bar. We use images, lines, stars, circles and arrows to first capture an idea. Then share it with someone else. That person’s perspective and questions are what encourage us to revise the sketch and improve its clarity and meaning.
The conversation around our napkin art is what drives the a-ha moment, the excitement. You, as a leader, can use visualization and visual iteration to free the figures (or your people) slumbering within your organization, and drive innumerable a-ha moments.
Here are three ways to do just that:
- Use visualization to create clear meaning
Even the most common terms in strategic plans (words like operational excellence, customer centric, innovation, accountability, high performance, collaboration, vision) suffer from lack of meaning. Instead, define meaning with a picture. Have each member of your team draw a picture of what a high performance team looks like to them.
Compare the pictures. Then create a single image made up of the strongest elements of each person’s initial drawing. As a team, tell one story (accompanied by the picture) of what a high performance team means. Pictures drive common understanding in a way that words often cannot.
- Use visualization to think in systems
Many of the most complex issues we face are systems issues. It is hard to understand a system unless we can see it. Consider systems such as how we make money, or how to execute our business model. It’s tough to imagine without a diagram.
One well-known manufacturer found itself with hundreds of millions of dollars painfully tied up in working capital. The company tried unsuccessfully to reduce this amount for two years.
Finally it used imagery, pictures and metaphors to illustrate where the money came from, where it went, and how much is left afterwards. The business engaged all of its people to better understand how its economic system worked. Within six months, the company had freed up $300 million of working capital. Pictures make invisible systems tangible.
- Use visualization to frame a process
Customer acquisition, supply chain, and new product/ process development are just three examples of key business processes. Many process errors occur at the handoff points where clarity of workflow between departments and people is not always clear and co-owned.
Instead, visualize or blueprint a major process step by step and highlight the key handoffs that often become the “process busters” for the most important processes in your organization.
If Aristotle was right when he said the soul never thinks without a picture, and if everyone is right when they say a picture is worth a thousand words, then a grand visual metaphor for achieving organizational goals can be priceless.
When a picture is clear in our mind’s eye, we can make sense of it. When it is not clear, it is nearly impossible to take action on it. So, it doesn’t have to be the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but every extraordinary leader must know how to paint a picture for their people of where they are and where they want to go.
About Jim Haudan
Jim Haudan is Co-Founder and Chairman of Root Inc. Root Inc., the organizational change expert on helping companies create leadership alignment, execute strategies and change successful, build employee engagement, and transform businesses. He is a sought-after business presenter who has spoken at TEDx BGSU, Tampa TEDx, and The Conference Board. His latest book, What Are Your Blind Spots?: Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back is co-authored with Rich Berens is CEO and Chief Client Fanatic of Root Inc. The book equips readers with the tools needed for a personal leadership reset. You’ll discover how to increase engagement, productivity, and growth in your own organization.
Dr. Dawn Graham, PhD is one of the nation’s leading career coaches. Her latest book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers – and Seize Success is written specifically for people thinking about changing career paths. Packed with psychological insights, practical exercises, and inspiring success stories, Switchers helps these individuals leap over obstacles and into a whole new field.
What do the words “smooth”, “linear”, “rational” and “straightforward” have in common? NONE describes a job search.
Whether voluntary or not, the process of seeking a new position is often a sandwich of frustration and ambiguity bookended by excitement and anticipation. Similar to moving to a new home, you know the process will be worth it in the end, and can only hope the inherent broken dishes, crushed boxes and lost mail along the way will be minimal.
While this description may seem to lean toward the negative, research shows that happiness and satisfaction are more dependent on outcome in relation to expectations, rather than outcome alone*. What this means is that a little pessimism about the smoothness of the job search may actually keep your spirits up as things go wrong since you expect the hiccups.
In addition to setting realistic expectations, here’s what else you can do when your job search feels overwhelming:
- Control what you can AND accept what you can’t control. Typo-s, arriving late, an unkempt LinkedIn profile or being unprepared are all things that can be eradicated from the hiring process for organized job seekers. Nailing these basics shows you’re a serious candidate. On the other hand, hiring bias, competition from internal candidates, and being ghosted are beyond your control in many cases, so don’t allow these to shake your confidence or dampen your attitude for your next interview.
- Change strategies. If you’ve been in a search for several months and aren’t getting bites or making it past the first interview, evaluate your strategy. Is there a red flag that continues to get in your way (e.g., career switcher, long-time unemployed, lack of degree)? Do you need to change your interview style, or perhaps your frustration or desperation are coming through and you don’t realize it? This may be a good time to invest in a career coach who can help you identify and get past an obstacle that you may not be aware of.
- Take (unrelated) action. When Steven Spielberg couldn’t get his mechanical shark to work in the movie “Jaws,” he almost gave up. Fortunately, he took action, which led to a creative alternative (see here), leading to the movie winning three Oscars! While the last thing you might feel like doing when in a job search funk is going to the zoo or finally trying Vinyasa yoga, now is the perfect time to do it. Novel experiences inspire new neural connections in the brain, which lead to original ideas. Bonus: research shows that creativity is unleashed when physical activity is added to the new action**.
Bumpy, circular, irrational, and complex tend to be words that are tied to the job search. However, expecting a roller-coaster will help you maintain your sanity and make the entire process less frustrating.
Dr. Graham is the Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio’s popular weekly call-in show Career Talk and is a regular contributor to Forbes.
This guest post originally appeared on Dr. Dawn on Careers