Reflections from Silicon Valley

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I had a real intense week in Silicon Valley with tons of meeting at Google, Stanford, Change Maker Lab and so on and I have noticed a pattern… more or less the questions asked were the same. I guess because are crucial questions for our future and I have decided to share these questions with you:

1) What are the key ingredients for great management?
2) How would you re-imagine management?
3) How does EQ create value in biz?

The energy dedicated to innovation, even innovation in management, is really high here and the focus on the future is outstanding. What about us? How would you answer to the above questions? Did you reflect about the future of management?
Below you can find my answers and I am eager to see yours…

What are the key ingredients for great management?

We have investigated this topic for ten years, asking over 10.000 leaders from all over the World “what are the X-factors for performance?” Let me share three findings:

1) The result of our research says there are 5 factors that explain 60% of the performance of companies, and BTW these 5 factors are cross cultural and cross sector: motivation, Teamwork, Execution, change and trust. We call this the Vital Signs.

2) You can increase the Vital Signs. Last year we had the opportunity to work with one plant of Komatsu, the Japanese company, and in Six months following our Vital Company methodology we have seen scores on these Five factors doubled!

3) And, last but not least, would you like to know the good news? You can have, as a leader, a huge impact on these factors even in your small group. How? Change the way you manage people. Fortunately, new neuroscience gives clear insights to how people work, probably it’s time to use it.

So just to summarize: the Vital Signs explain 60% of the organizational performance. You can increase your Vital Signs – if you manage people better. isn’t it interesting?

How would you re-imagine management?

First of all, let me say we Have To re-imagine management. It’s not a “nice to have,” but the only way to maintain the edge of innovation, productivity and profitability in our companies.

Our research at the Centre for Innovative Management offers insights about what we should do – here are three of our six principles:

1) From extrinsic to intrinsic motivation. If we want employee’s commitment, work is about more than money! Especially in times of uncertainty, people look for purpose, they need to feel they are doing the right thing.

2) From personal to team performance. To solve complex problems you need multiple perspectives; the one wo/man show it’s not enough right now. And let me say that All the reward systems need to be aligned to this idea.

3) From change management to change makers. It’s not enough to obtain one result; we need people to dive into change – to take risks and value failure. To keep learning. If you don’t fail never it means you are too conservative. This takes Trust — trust the real accelerator for growth. How many companies are measuring it?

In just one sentence: people engagement is the real competitive advantage – which means that’s the leader’s #1 job.

How does EQ create value in biz?

Would you agree we’re living in turbulent times? As businesses deal with increased complexity, people experience more pressure and more uncertainty. These business challenges create a huge impact on our emotional side. In this pressure, if people don’t have EQ skills, they react – instead of respond.
It doesn’t mean we have to leave the rational paradigm — but that we have to use it together with the emotional one. Neuroscience research shows us that this is the way the brain works best: when we blend the ration and emotional, we get more insight, more energy, more power. It’s a matter of intentionality and capability to do what we really want to do as individuals and as a company.

And BTW data confirms these considerations. Let me share a very interesting piece of research we did early this year with the Amadori case. Amadori is one of the most important McDonalds’ suppliers in Europe and we had the opportunity to work closely with them to support their Leaders development. We collected lots of data over three years, and generated three very important findings:
EQ predicts performance: more or less half of the managers’ performance was explained by Emotional Intelligence
The higher the EQ – the higher the engagement, or commitment, of people: three quarters of engagement was explained by Emotional Intelligence
Engagement drives productivity: the plants with the higher engagement had the better bottom line.

So – high EQ managers respond instead of reacting. This lets them engage people – and this has serious bottom-line value.

It’s your turn now… 🙂

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Microsoft, management lessons from my students…

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In one of the last post, we have discussed about Microsoft and its Performance Management System. This topic raised an incredible and unexpected interest and so I have decided to transform the article in a part of the final exam for my students at the Faculty of Engineering. What was even more surprising was the level of the answers… Here you can find a summary of the main points:

1) introduce Emotional Intelligence inside the company – probably this point was stressed because they know my passion about neuroscience and people-centred methodology and to have an higher score they are capable to do things like that but I have to say at least they have chosen the right reasons… 🙂
– If you want to understand the people behaviours you need to use both the rational and the emotional perspective
– Leaders need to be in charge of the emotions (their own and others’ emotions) inside the company.
– Emotions drive people, people drive performance. Unpleasent emotions for example have a huge impact on learning and innovation!

2) Cancel rankings – the ranking is dead, each person is a unicum, an unique human being!
– Discover and use the strengths of people, it’s the easiest and fastest way to performance
– Support the development of people to Mastery is one of the most important goal for a Leader
– Match people’s potential (strengths, passions, expectations) with organizational challenges

3) Shift the focus to Teams – innovation in complex situations is a team activity not a solo effort.
– High performance Teams are the ones with an high level of Divergence (in terms of brain styles, backgrounds and strengths)
– The Leader is in charge of the quantity and quality of connections between team members, not always quantity means quality…
– The harder the team challenge, the easier is the failure. We need to establish a culture of exploration where we evaluate not only the final results but an overall set of paramethers because we want the brightest people to embrace the hardest challenges without trying to be conservative.

What is interesting is that you can measure Emotional Intelligence, you can measure the people strengths, you can measure the Divergence inside a team… They are not asking to change the actual ranking system with a touchy feeling method but with a different set of paramethers and as usual what you measure is what you get!

Not so bad as free consultancy, isn’t it? In the reality my students would like to have free Office’s licences… If someone in Microsoft is reading the blog post… 🙂

Do you know what are the drivers of performance?

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I was a bit tired about a new theory about companies performance every day! More or less, in any new book about management you find the inner secrets of performance (look at amazon to have some exampleson what I am saying…). The problem is that the majority of the times these inner secrets are based on just one company’s case or on the perception of one person. That’s could be great because you can find some insights or ideas but, you know what, I am a quantitative guy and if there are no numbers or real serious analisys my brain is not working properly. And BTW it’s not my perception, is how my brain work. You can see it in the image below, this is my Brain Brief Profile (if you want to learn more about brain style click here)

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So considering my brain’s needs, this year we have analyzed data about more of 100 companies and 10.000 people to understand the drivers of performance. Today, I had the time finally to look carefully at the numbers and I am really excited about the results. The analysis confirms that trust, motivation, teamwork, execution and capability to change are the 5 most important factors… let me add fortunately because in the last year we have created a model called the Vital Signs where these factors were the base for an interesting model… To know more about that, click

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What is even more important is that the 60% of performance is explained by these Vital Signs factors!! Isn’t it cool?
And now a question for you: what is the most impacting factor in your opinion? In one of the next blog post I will say “the winner is…”

Wile E. Coyote EQ Profile

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It’s not a great moment for me. After a life of studies, teaching and consulting in respectful Institutions and Organizations, I have to write another post about Wile E. Coyote… Yesterday I don’t know how many emails I have received about that! I have used the famous Coyote as, in my opinion, funny example of Optimism at the end of a serious article for leaders. You know what? No one asked me about Seligman or my research in the field, but all the comments were on the EQ profile of this animal… I had to imagine it: it’s the communication, stupid! Anyway, considering I think that every way to try to explain something about Emotional Intelligence it’s an opportunity, with the help of my 9 years’ son Ricky I am ready to try! Before going ahead, let me ask to be forgiven by the University of Bologna and by Six Seconds… 🙂

First of all, let me say I am going to use the Six Seconds model, based on three areas: Self Awareness (Know Yourself), Self Management (Choose Yourself) and Self Direction (Give Yourself).

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Inside the model, you can see 8 competences that I am going to try to explain briefly (if you want to know more go to the Six Seconds’ website). Ok, no more excuse we are ready to evaluate the Wile E. Coyote EQ:

Self Awareness
Enhance Emotional Literacy (identifing and interpreting feelings) – Low
Recognize Patterns (acknowledging frequently recurring reactions and behaviors) – Very Low

Self Management
Apply Consequential Thinking (evaluating the costs and benefits of your choices) – Very Low
Navigate Emotions (assessing, harnessing, and transforming emotions as a strategic resource) – High
Engage Intrinsic Motivation (gaining energy from personal values & commitments vs. being driven by external forces) – Very High
Exercise Optimism (taking a proactive perspective of hope and possibility) – Very High

Self Direction
Increase Empathy (recognizing and appropriately responding to others’ emotions) – Low
Pursue Noble Goals (connecting your daily choices with your overarching sense of purpose) – Very Low

So we can say the Coyote is low in Self Awareness and Direction but pretty good on Self Management. Overall, I would say his Emotional Intelligence is below 100, the average score.

It would be great if Wile E. Coyote was available to take the real SEI or at least a 360 degree evaluation, but I am not so confident… 🙂

Let me ask you the last questions: What about your EQ? Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses? Are you training your Brain to improve your Emotional Intelligence? Did you know that EQ is strongly correlated with performance, health and happiness?

If you want to start exploring, I suggest you to take this book (a great opportunity to understand the model and have an idea of how to increase your Emotional Intelligence)

Wile Coyote, Optimism and the Corporate World

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I have just read a great post by Julia Boorstin about “Three key reasons to be optimistic like Steve Case” and one of the statement that got my attention was:

In business-speak, the term optimism often connotes a certain naivete

You know what, I am sure that Julia is right and at the same time I feel an unpleasent emotion about how slow is the management development in the Corporate World.
Let me explain in few words. Optimism is one of the key competences of the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence model (if you want to know more about that click here) and there are an incredible amount of research that show the huge impact of EQ on performance (if you want to explore more, click). Just to keep it simple, consider that some research have found, more or less, a 50% of performance explained by Emotional Intelligence and it seems understandable that half of the performance is linked to the emotional side and the other is the usual (and let me underline, real important!) rational intelligence.
In this scenario, in 2006, not yesterday… considering the speed of the market, we did a research in an high tech company and we have found that 20% of performance is explained by Optimism (NextiraOne Case). This kind of impact was confirmed by others studies all over the World.

So just to summarize:
– we have research about the importance of emotions in the workplace
– we know that optimism is one of the key competences of EQ
– we have shown the impact of Optimism on performance

Could you understand my emotions when I see “optimism often connotes a certain naivete”?
I suppose an affermative answer… And once again, Julia is right!

What is even worse, is that few people know that Optimism is learnable… Dear Corporate World, are you really sure you want to miss this opportunity?

If you want to explore more, I would suggest to read the Martin Seligman’s book Learned Optimism and if you have children don’t miss The Optimistic Child.

Just to conclude: why Wile Coyote? Optimism is the capability to see alternatives. Could you imagine a different Champion of optimism??? And BTW, Wile Coyote remember us that is not enough to be optimistic… 🙂