Many budget processes look like this:

  • They happen once a year and go out a year ahead.
  • Managers and departments have every incentive to ask for everything, whether they need it or not, because their demands will be negotiated down. If they don’t ask for everything, someone else will.
    • Managers and departments often also have the incentive to spend everything from the year before. If you save money, you obviously didn’t need it and won’t get it next year.
  • Trust is minimal, as is input from people outside the room — the rank and file, particularly.
  • A budget is cobbled out of this somehow and sets the tone — and maybe the strategy — for the next year. See you in 12 months.

Sound familiar? For Aubrey Daniels, a noted expert and author on performance management and other management, leadership and workplace issues, budget planning is one of the more frustrating things about companies today, and he has some ideas on how to improve the process. (read more…)

There were 25 managers in a recent leadership program I facilitated. Part of the program included a pre-work assessment where each manager and their direct reports assessed the manager’s leadership behaviors and overall effectiveness.

For many leaders around the globe today, such feedback is unusual — and a bit threatening. Most organizations don’t provide leaders with this kind of feedback very often.

These managers had never received such feedback in their company. I walked them through the data, helping them understand where their team members see them doing well and not as well as needed.

One manager blurted out, “I’m a great engineer. I’m clearly a lousy manager!” (His terminology for “lousy” was, um, colorful.) The whole room laughed and a number of heads nodded.

I hope — and believe — I helped these managers learn from their assessment and “get past” the critical feedback they received.

What is obvious is that this company has been somewhat casual about defining leader effectiveness. (read more…)

As a business leader, you’re constantly being challenged to make complex decisions in a fast-paced, rapidly changing landscape.

But to do this, you need more than factual data points. After all, if there were an easy answer, someone else in your company would have (hopefully) found it already. On the other hand, making knee-jerk decisions based on your intuition alone could permanently harm your company.

Instead, you need a combination of hard data, trend insights, and intuitive discernment — you need high-quality industry information.

What is high-quality information?

High-quality information is both factual and relevant. It’s the intelligence you need when questions without simple “yes” or “no” answers bubble up through your organization. Here are three example situations:

  • The CEO of a software company believes that acquiring a small startup will add value for a specific niche within his market, increasing his company’s net worth. He’s tasked one of his researchers to pull data for him, but he wants to know more about the nuances of this particular niche before he makes a decision.
  • (read more…)

The hours ticked down to launch time, and Roger Boisjoly had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

It was January of 1986, and the highly respected Morton Thiokol rocket engineer and thermodynamicist was pleading with his supervisors and NASA to postpone the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger on that unusually cold Florida day. Icicles extended for hours from the shuttle and the launch platform, and NASA had never before launched in such cold weather. In fact, it was 15 degrees colder on this day than on any prior shuttle launch.

Boisjoly presented hard data and evidence to support his point — that the O-rings on the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters would fail, leading to an explosion, the loss of the Challenger and the astronauts on board. Boisjoly had written a memo less than 1 year earlier about the clear evidence of the O-Ring failure following a prior launch, and he was concerned that the extreme cold temperatures on the morning of January 28, 1986 would lead to a disaster. (read more…)

Companies, like people, have personalities. That’s the idea behind the organizational DNA framework from Strategy&, a member of the PwC network. For more than a decade, we’ve been working with Fortune 500 companies to better understand how these personality types are expressed in their organization’s DNA so that they can improve performance.

As with human genome mapping, knowledge is power: Identifying the precise building blocks that dictate your company’s personality and performance means you can activate the right ones to influence outcomes. Thankfully, organizational DNA is less complex than human DNA; it has four pairs instead of 23. Although fewer in number, they are powerful levers—decision rights and norms, motivators and commitments, information and mind-sets, and structure and networks—that you can use to maximize your resources and better deliver on your strategy.

We’ve identified seven distinct organizational archetypes –three that execute well and four that do not. We see a nearly even split when we analyze our Org DNA Profiler public data set: 48% of respondents fit weak-execution profiles, and 52% are on the strong-execution side. (read more…)