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Leadership & Organization Blog

Short and snackable insights on talent management, organizational design, agility, culture, change management, HR analytics and technology, leadership, and merger management from our experienced partners at the forefront of today’s trends.

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Set your cultural aspiration with these four steps

The new CEO of a major multinational organization inherited a crumbling empire. Declining performance. Unsuccessful product launches. Leader infighting. A complete lack of strategic direction. He could have jumped straight into market analysis or strategic planning to transform the organization. But he took an unconventional approach. The CEO’s first move was to reach out and listen to hundreds of people at all levels of the organization to set a new, organization-wide aspiration ...

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Using advanced analytics to acquire and retain the best talent during M&A

Recent merger and acquisition activity is at an all-time high and shows little sign of slowing down. While the right acquisition can unlock value and innovation, identifying the wrong target organization or failing to retain talent post-acquisition can scuttle any hope of merger success. Whether acquiring new capabilities to keep pace with the competition or expanding to meet the needs of your customers, leaders often have limited information about the skills required in the new markets or ...

Applying advanced analytics to accelerate value creation in M&A

When a company makes an acquisition, the CEO and steering committee embark on a path to integrate the businesses in a “glitchless” manner, hopefully creating value, retaining talent and aligning cultures to form an effective company. The long-standing and well-documented integration approach works, but it often takes many months or even years to complete the integration. To ensure value creation is accelerated and sometimes increased, acquirers can more rapidly integrate by applying ...

Winning practices for agile in advanced industry

You might think that advanced industry—a sector characterized by research and development and use of artificial intelligence and other breakthrough technologies—also optimizes the way its R&D organizations work. But continual business and technology trends in advanced industries (AI) have triggered fundamental challenges that require advanced industry innovate in its approach to R&D. Just consider the three major R&D hurdles automakers confront in designing autonomous ...

Continuous improvement: the realities of making the shift

The applications of continuous improvement are growing beyond the manufacturing settings where it originally came to prominence (explored in our last myth-busting post). In this post, we turn our attention to another common misunderstanding, about who can benefit from a continuous improvement culture. Myth: Continuous improvement only benefits underperforming companies. Reality: Continuous improvement can support a business’s strategy in many different contexts. In our Organizational ...

6 pieces of wisdom to help young leaders thrive in uncertain times

In a world that feels increasingly uncertain, young people entering the workforce are often struggling to find their path, experiencing a mix of anxiety, enthusiasm, anticipation and high expectations. Many young people today also feel impatient and are asking: How can I lead, grow, thrive and make a difference? It’s a difficult question to answer, and I have certainly been through and observed many of the emotions they are experiencing. When I was a project leader at a non-profit, I first ...

What to do when you’re awake at 3 a.m.

You wake up. It’s 3 a.m.—again! Why always 3 a.m.? You get up and use the bathroom—maybe that’s why?! You go back to bed. You toss and turn. Thoughts flood your brain—issues at work, challenges in your relationships, the myriad of seemingly insoluble political problems in the world. 3 a.m. becomes 4 a.m. 4 a.m. becomes 5 a.m. 5 a.m. almost becomes 6 a.m. before you finally drop off to sleep. Then, the alarm! You get up—shattered—after hitting snooze a ...

Continuous improvement: how to get started

Continuous improvement is a testament to consistency—to making changes (sometimes big, often small) each day. Sometimes those changes can be so small, and the organizations implementing them so big, that the power of their impact can only be seen well after their implementation. Given that, it’s no surprise that continuous improvement is often misunderstood and underestimated. Here, in the first post in our myth-busting series, we discuss a common misconception. Myth: Continuous ...

The 4 biggest assessment myths undermining your hiring process

When we talk to clients about their hiring process, we often get questions on assessments. In particular, one question we often see is starkly simple yet deceptively difficult to answer—which hiring assessments, among the sea of available options, are best? We believe that this question belies a broader misunderstanding of assessments. Assessments are simply a standardized means of collecting information about an applicant to help with hiring or promotion decisions. It is a broad category ...

How continuous improvement can build a competitive edge

What level of impact can continuous improvement achieve? One of our clients would say ten weeks. Why? That’s how much time they were able to save in their product testing process—cutting the time by more than 80%—through a large amount of small changes to how its engineering and testing teams collaborated. What is continuous improvement? Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve all elements of an organization—processes, tools, products, services, etc. ...

Why rigor is the key ingredient to develop leaders

Leadership development interventions often lack strategic rigor, and the results show—only 10 percent of CEOs strongly believe their leadership development initiatives have a clear business impact. For organizations to develop successful strategies requires leaders who are trained to think critically about where to compete and how to break down big-picture strategies into the smallest, most granular components. To break through requires real rigor and data-driven analysis to identify ...

Linking employee engagement to customer satisfaction at Starwood

In 2008, when Jeff Cava became CHRO for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, he partnered with the Marketing and Guest Intelligence Teams—groups focused on measuring guest experience and loyalty—to fundamentally rethink the way Starwood served its guests by unlocking the potential of its employees. Previously identified linkages between employee engagement and guest satisfaction had been descriptive rather than action oriented. This underlines the importance of both gathering and ...

Why we all need performance ratings on a regular basis

McKinsey research shows that the majority of CEOs don’t find the performance management process helpful in identifying top performers. Over half of individuals surveyed think their managers don’t get the performance review right. When neither of these parties finds the process beneficial, it’s no wonder some organizations have done away with annual performance ratings altogether. In working with these clients, however, we noticed an interesting trend. When these organizations ...

Answer these 6 questions before setting up a ‘nudge’ unit

One insurer uses nudges to encourage customers to exercise and lead healthy lifestyles, thus reducing claims. A German utility company employs related techniques to combat irrational decision-making. Embracing behavioral science, organizations are increasingly adopting practices based on behavioral science and establishing behavioral science units (or nudge units as we will call them) to promote change and improve decision-making. Organizations are increasingly adopting practices based on ...

The age of speed: How to raise your organization’s metabolism

What to do when smaller brands are beating us to market at four times the rate of our own innovation cycle? That was the question that the frustrated CEO of a consumer goods company posed to us recently as she revealed her organization’s painfully slow reaction to the new direct-to-consumer, e-commerce-driven market dynamics. Organizing for speed has become a critical component in today’s consumer market as new technologies, trends and ways of shopping transform the landscape. This ...