Tag Archives: The Transformational Entrepreneur

Performance Transformation, LLC™ Launches Business Acumen Coaching For HR Professionals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Talent Management has fast become the strategic differentiator in today’s global business environment. Human creativity and collaboration are now the primary drivers of value creation placing HR at the epicenter of cultivating competitive advantage.

VENICE, Fla. — Peformance Transformation, LLC™ announced today the launch of their latest professional development service, Business Acumen Coaching for HR Professionals. The educationally-based approach is designed to cultivate and enhance Human Resources professionals’ competencies to align with the demands and opportunities of the New Economy.

“Companies can no longer afford to view HR as a cost center,” commented Terry Murray, founder and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation. “The fact is, no other function within the business organization has changed so dramatically, and in such a short period of time, as the Human Resources department. Competencies must expand accordingly and in ways that are non-traditional from the historical role HR has played in business.”

The evolutionary development program focuses on instilling and enhancing skill sets that support strategic thinking and processes, talent management, and change management as well as incorporating the use of Big Data and predictive analytics to optimize and align talent development with business strategy. The approach also imparts Emotional Intelligence competencies that contribute to positive relationship management, leadership and communication skills. While highly innovative, the approach is not theoretical; it is grounded in tangible business objectives that fall within the perview of the HR professional. Doing so delivers a clear return on investment for the program.

“The source of value creation has shifted,” added Mr. Murray. “All companies have access to similar natural resources, economies of scale, information technology and quality processes. What they don’t all have access to is talent. How that talent is secured and managed will be the strategic differentiator going forward. HR is now at the epicenter of this challenge.  The transactional and risk management activities the HR function has been charged with over the past thirty years have provided little opportunity for these professionals to prepare for this new frontier. Our approach addresses this gap.”

Recent studies indicate chief executives and corporate officers are looking for more from the HR function. A major study published in the June edition of the Harvard Business Review® revealed corporate boards believe their companies are scoring an “F” in talent management.  Another study published in July, by the magazine The Economist®, revealed similar concerns of CEOs. Their findings revealed only a bare majority of chief executives believe their head of HR is a key player in strategic planning, yet 70% of them wanted to see their HR executives taking a more active role. Unfortunately, a credibility perception still lingers throughout many leadership teams.

“There’s a trust gap around the strategic planning table,” said Terry. “The research indicates that while a majority of chief executives are satisfied with their HR leader’s management of the HR function, most don’t believe they’re achieving a similar level of performance in the more strategic areas of succession planning or developing key talent. Significant concerns also arise surrounding perceptions of the alignment of talent management with business strategy.”

“Part of the problem is being exacerbated by talent management software companies. They all claim to have the magic bullet solution, but automating fragmented processes is not the answer. A shift in perspective must first take place followed on with deeper insights into the mechanisms of value creation. Without these two steps preceding automation, a lot of money and worse, a lot of time, time that can’t be recouped, will be wasted.”

Performance Transformation is unique in that the company is perhaps the only leadership and strategic development firm that integrates discoveries from the neurosciences with a predictive analytics platform. The combination creates a pipeline for a continuously improving flow of business intelligence to emerge, leveraging Big Data for the optimization of human capital and talent management.

“We’re very excited to help usher in this new era for HR.” added Terry. “Actually using advanced analytics and Big Data as part of the delivery process in the coaching immediately acclimates the professional with the tools they’ll need to master going forward.”

For more information, please visit Performance Transformation’s website or call (941) 485-7428.

© 2013, Performance Transformation, LLC™.  All Rights Reserved.

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Why The Mainstream Leadership Development Industry Has Failed and Will Continue to Fail

A colleague of mine referenced me to an article on the Harvard Business Review® Blog Network over the weekend that she knew I would find of interest.  The blog explored a recent study on the level of dissatisfaction corporate boards were expressing on the failure of Talent Management in the corporations they oversee.  According to the study, and to no surprise, Talent Management is failing miserably in most organizations.  I say to no surprise because Talent Management is the latest offshoot of the mainstream leadership development industry, which has perhaps the most dismal performance record of any professional service industry on the planet.  Over the past twenty years alone, corporations and institutions have invested upwards of $1 trillion (yes, trillion) on leadership development.  Yet, only 1% of executives score excellent in eight key competencies of leadership, 90% score below average (McKinsey & Co®), and employee disengagement has been mired at 70% for over a decade (Gallup®).

As I was reading the blog, and here’s the correlation to today’s subject, I came across another entry on the HBR Blog Network entitled, “Why So Many Leadership Programs Ultimately Fail” by a gentleman named Peter Bregman.  In the blog, Mr. Bregman states, “Ever since I started teaching leadership on mountaineering expeditions in the  late 80s, the question of how to develop leaders has absorbed me.  I’ve designed and taught everything from one-day team buildings to 20-day wilderness trips, from business school classes to corporate trainings, from simulations to executive leadership courses.”  At the risk of sounding facetious, which is not my intention, I can’t help but wonder if this question that has absorbed him for 25 years might have been answered if he had ever actually been a leader rather than a career teacher of leadership?

It’s strange to me…no other professional discipline has followed such a misguided path.  Medical surgeons, with decades of experience practicing medicine, are called upon to develop and educate the next generation of surgeons.  Senior scientists educate up and coming scientists.  Pilots are trained by experienced pilots.   Yet, next generation business leaders have not, and are not, being educated and developed by experienced business leaders.  They are being trained by career consultants and organizational psychologists.

The irony that runs through Mr. Bregman’s blog would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.  An author of several best-selling books on leadership, he comments, “What makes leadership hard isn’t the theoretical, it’s the practical” and follows on by emphasizing the importance of not getting sidetracked, distracted or losing focus by stating, “And you can’t learn them from reading a book…”

Mr. Bregman’s main point in his blog is to share an apparent epiphany he’s recently had regarding emotional courage.  This, he believes, is the key to successful leadership.  It’s a fair point, and one that was eloquently written about eleven years ago by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky in their seminal book, “Leadership On The Line – Staying Alive Through The Dangers Of Leading“.  Another irony is that this book was published by the Harvard Business School press.  It’s also a lesson I learned personally in my first business managerial role leading a national sales team nearly 25 years ago.

Another supposition in which Mr. Bregman appears misguided is, “The goal of any leadership development program is to change behavior.”  Isn’t that the goal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?  Behaviors in the workplace are manifestations of perceptions, orientations and conditioned, neurological responses to emotional stimuli.  This focus on behaviors is just what one would expect by psychologists.  It’s what they know, so it’s what they do.  Shouldn’t the goal of leadership development be to improve business performance by imparting leaders with the tools and adaptive thinking skills necessary to communicate, engage and inspire others to perform at their best?  Isn’t the goal to develop nascent leaders’ ability to lead in any circumstance?

The final kicker in Mr. Bregman’s blog is his mea culpa, “By that measure, most of what I’ve done – and what I’ve seen others do – has failed.”  He goes on to add, “Here’s why: We’re teaching the wrong things in the wrong ways.”  Wow, that’s an amazing statement to read on an HBR blog.  I cannot help but wonder how Mr. Bregman’s past clients feel about the fact that he’s admitting his work, of which I’m sure he’s charged handsomely for, has been a decades long experiment trying to figure out for himself how to develop leaders?  And this grand experiment in leadership development has proven one thing…both Mr. Bregman and the mainstream leadership development industry still has a lot to learn about leadership.

I didn’t write this to personally take Mr. Bregman to task.  This is, however, highly indicative of what’s wrong with the leadership development industry.  Leadership, as Mr. Bregman says himself, cannot be learned from a book.  It must be experienced, first hand, and evolve over time under the tutelage of a seasoned leader.  Unfortunately, there are very few seasoned leaders in the leadership development industry.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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The Revolutionary Future of Human Resources

When many of us first embarked upon our professional careers, few if any disciplines had the opportunity to truly reinvent their organizational roles on the fly.  Things were fairly steady, moving forward at a relegated pace, keeping stride with what, at the time, was the revolutionary influx of information technology.  While the support tools were evolving, sales was still sales, finance was still finance, and HR was still HR.  Turning our contemporary lens back onto those bucolic days of the 80s and 90s now has the feel of looking back into the archeological record of some ancient civilization.

Things have change.  Really changed.  Not just on the surface, but deep into the very essence of what business now does in its never ending pursuit of value creation.

During the Industrial Age, value was created through the exploitation of cheap and abundant raw materials, the organization of specialized labor (think assembly lines), and the application of capital.  Industrialists like Henry Ford and Alfred Sloan helped usher in the golden age of the corporation.  Economies of scale, vertical integration, corporate finance and sophisticated marketing methodologies took root and flourished.  Great sales people ascended to dizzying heights.  These were the tools and drivers of their time.

The Information Age, the precursor of today, breathed new life into tiring, threadbare methodologies of management and organizational development.  Information technology enabled the aging structures to shed overhead and secure gains in productivity, while the very essence of their fundamentals were quietly slipping away beneath their feet.  Resource constraints, environmental concerns, the first waves of globalization, and labor strife were all taking their toll during the 1970s, right at the threshold of the coming IT revolution.  Those of you old enough will remember the gas lines, stagflation and the emergence of the Rust Belt that marked the close of the decade.

While the internet, cloud computing, and Big Data all offer productivity promise, the very source of value creation has shifted dramatically over the past thirty years.  In today’s economy, value is created through the efficient commercialization of intellectual property (IP).  The assembly lines of the past have been supplanted by teams of knowledge workers.  Multi-cultural, multi-generational workers that are often dispersed around the globe.  The new raw material of our age is human creativity and the human beings that bring their creativity to life.

The implications are far reaching, but the opportunities are even greater, especially for the professionals in Human Resources and Talent Management.  The fact of the matter is, what was once perceived by senior leadership as overhead, a department that was saddled with risk management and often derided as a necessary evil that slowed things down, is now center stage in the value creation equation.

With this unprecedented opportunity for unleashing remarkable productivity gains (Gallup® once again, for the 12th year running, reported employee disengagement levels hovering at 70%) comes equally remarkable challenges for HR.  While the source of value creation has shifted, the political capital HR requires in their new role has lagged behind.  Chances are, this political capital wont be philanthropically handed over by the Sales and Marketing folks; it simply isn’t in their nature.  But the fierce competitors must inevitably give sway to the fierce collaborators if companies are to maintain their competitive advantage in rapidly changing markets.

So HR professionals are left to blaze a new trail, to build their voice at the strategic table of senior management.  The challenge is, where are the forbearers?  Where are the pioneers to whom we can look for guidance and methods to set this new standard?  You’ll find them in the mirror.  It’s you, and it’s your time to step up and lead.

Having been on the forefront of this revolution for the past five years, I’d like to share a few thoughts as you embark on the first steps of this new journey:

  1. Cultivate your business acumen.  Tap into the thought leaders beyond the traditional practice of HR (i.e. The McKinsey Quarterly®, the Harvard Business Review®, and people like Dan Ariely, Daniel Goleman and Rich Davidson).  Tap into the many entrepreneurial voices heard through blogs and the unadulterated business press of the internet.  Find a senior mentor from outside HR and learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can about both the new and evergreen fundamentals of business.
  2. Invest in your leadership competencies.  Not the old command-and-control philosophies, but methods based upon transformational and service leadership.  It is values-driven leadership that resonates with today’s multi-cultural and multi-generational workforce.  And it is intrinsic values that resonate (i.e. authentic relationships, purposefulness, being of service and a part of something bigger than one’s self) in today’s world.  Leveraging extrinsic values alone (i.e. money, power, prestige) is an artifact of the past (and a contributing factor to endemic employee disengagement).
  3. Look for integrative solutions that drive insights.  Today’s business world is faced with accelerating complexity.  One-off, simple solutions are no longer capable of bridging the growing performance gap.  The solutions to today’s adaptive challenges lie in the convergence of seemingly disparate disciplines (i.e. the convergence of neuroscience, applied behavioral economics, emotional intelligence, leadership development, creativity science, and advanced analytics).
  4. Build metrics into every HR initiative.  This is crucial in gaining a respected voice at the leadership table.  Sales is transactional and easily measured.  Human creativity, collaboration, leadership development, and innovation precursors require a bit more thought to construct meaningful metrics.  But these metrics are there if you look, and be sure to ask every HR vendor for their metrics as well.  If they shy away from measuring their own impact on the business, find vendors willing to step up and be accountable.
  5. Be prepared to take some risks.  This is the threshold, the point at which you will either embark on what famed author and scholar Joseph Campbell called The Hero’s Journey or fall back into the staid definitions of the past.  Here’s the thing, if you follow the first four steps of advice, the risks will be measured, rational, and justifiable.  Those are risks worth taking and those are risks one survives.

We’re truly working and living in unprecedented times.  The HR profession has arrived at a nexus.  The opportunities for those bold enough to redefine themselves and their role within the organization will enjoy equally unprecedented success.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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U.S. Army Research Validates Neuroscience-Based Approach for Adaptive Leadership Development

Over the past two years, I’ve written extensively about the shortcomings of traditional approaches to leadership development.  The relatively passive approaches of traditional coaching and mainstream focus on behaviorism has left us with endemic, employee disengagement, remarkably poor ROI on developmental investments, and stoic organizational thinking struggling to adapt to the rising complexity and rate of change that defines our economic era.  We saw the disconnect more than five years ago, and set out to develop a highly innovative approach for developing the types of leaders today’s, and tomorrow’s, world demands.

A research study, conducted by the U.S. Army and Wake Forest University and recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology®, aligns seamlessly with our precepts and resulting approach.  The study, entitled, “The Psychological and Neurological Bases of Leader Self-Complexity and Effects on Adaptive Decision-Making”, set out to explore and demonstrate the neurological complexity of highly adaptive leaders immersed in novel, chaotic, rapidly changing situations.  A quick comment on the use of the term complexity here…While most people shun complexity (i.e., KISS…keep it simple, stupid), what the researchers are referring to is a complexity of neural networks that exist in the frontal lobe and pre-frontal cortex of leaders.  In this regard, complexity is a good thing.  A richer, more connected neural network enables novel adaptability to emerge.  Of note, this is a fundamental objective of our approach to leadership development; to spur the neurogenesis of new neural pathways through the introduction of novel, stretch, scientific concepts delivered with a focus on real-world, stretch, experiential learning within the context of a specific, business objective.

The study’s authors define leader adaptability as “the capacity of leaders to adjust their thoughts and behaviors to enact appropriate responses to novel, ill-defined, changing, and evolving decision-making situations”.  They go on to state, “Greater levels of complexity promote the leaders’ ability to both differentiate the various sources of inputs and stimuli in the environment and to integrate those inputs with existing cognitive and affective structures to enable adaptive responses.”  (Thus the name of our approach…Affective Leadership Development…it’s not a typo on Effective).

The study established a baseline measurement related to neurological markers for leader neural complexity.  As a practical step (we don’t run a fMRI to view brain activity) we employ research conducted (and published in 2013) by the Corporate Executive Board identifying the top ten shared competencies of today’s high performers.  These are business professionals that are performing at distinct levels above their peers in today’s volatile, ambiguous, rapidly changing environment.  Through our own R&D, we also discovered an antecedent, causal relationship between the Six Dimensions of Emotional Style, based upon the research of Affective Neuroscientist Richard Davidson, Ph.D., and these top ten competencies shared by today’s best and brightest.  These Dimensions of Emotional Style are assessable, and just as importantly, fluid; meaning we can, thanks to the plasticity of the brain, alter where an individual resides along this continuum.  Our proprietary, developmental approach is designed to do just that by cultivating neural complexity.  The study supports this approach, stating, “We propose greater levels of complexity enhance a leader’s ability to comprehend and react adaptively to dynamic decision-making situations.”

Our initial approach to leadership development, Transformational Leadership Development, which we first released in 2010, was highly focused on cultivating competencies in Emotional Intelligence (Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, Self-Regualtion and Relationship Management skills).  As we evolved and learned more through our practice, we adapted to incorporate the rapidly emerging research from Affective Neuroscience.  Authentic awareness is still a core fundamental of the approach.  In fact, the study goes on to reveal, “From this heightened state of awareness, leaders then employ existing knowledge to choose new actions and strategies that will reestablish fit and effectiveness in the changed context.”

As I stated earlier, we’re obviously not employing brain scans to measure our effectiveness.  What we are doing, however, is incorporating a machine learning platform (Talent Sprocket™) and advanced algorithms  capable of identifying subtle correlations between seemingly disparate data sets of identifiable leadership competencies, business performance objectives, and affective neuroscience-based assessments.  This multi-dimensional approach enables predictive analytics to calculate over time, resulting in a revolutionary set of tools to emerge that we refer to as Human Analytics™ (Google and Apple are moving down a similar path to reinvent HR in the 21st Century).  This approach also enables concise ROI to be calculated on every leadership development investment in clear terms of business performance impact.

The conclusions of the research study are clear.  The authors close with, “Overall, our research represents a multidisciplinary and multi-method approach to the conceptualization and assessment of Leadership Self-Complexity, thus entailing a fusion of the leadership and neuroscience fields.  We envision the possibility of such neuroscience research to revolutionize approaches to the assessment and development of the complexity of leaders as key factors in realizing their adaptive performance.”

This is what we’ve created, a multi-dimensional approach to developing Next Gen leaders employing the fundamentals of neuroscience research in a novel delivery system.  Did we take a huge risk, stepping out on the forefront before the final research was in, correlating these insights from the neurosciences and leadership development?  We sure did, but innovators take risks.  Now that the research is in, our risks have been validated.  In a very real way, we have demonstrated the creative thinking, adaptability and innovation companies are seeking and have developed an accelerated approach to bring leadership competencies into alignment with the 21st Century.

© 2012, Terry Murray.  All Rights Reserved.

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Performance Transformation, LLC™ Announces Change In Open-Access Policy For Methodologies and Intellectual Property

Due to a recent upswing in plagiarism, copyright violations, and the theft of intellectual property for commercial gain, Performance Transformation will curtail their standing, five year policy of open knowledge sharing.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ~ VENICE, Fla. — Performance Transformation, LLCTM (Venice, FL) announced today a change in their longstanding, open-access policy for the sharing of their knowledge systems, methodologies, and intellectual property.

“It’s unfortunate, but I suppose it’s a sign of our times.  Information should be open and new ideas and insights should be encouraged to move freely.  That’s the reason for copyrights as well as patents.  Patents are open for review by anyone looking to improve upon the patent.  Just like patent infringement, plagiarism is theft,” commented Terry Murray, founder and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation, a leading firm in the development and delivery of high performance leadership and enterprise performance insights and solutions. “The plagiarism and copyright violations have been growing incrementally over time. The recent theft of our copyrighted intellectual property, by a major, multi-national corporation, caused us to rethink and retool our policy. We will continue to share our intellectual property, as we strongly believe in the 21st Century business value of transparency, open collaboration, and the free flow of ideas as the propagating seeds of innovation. We will just reign it in a bit by implementing a chain of custody trail to those that seek to access our ideas and insights.”

Founded in 2008, Performance Transformation has developed and delivered highly innovative experiential learning programs and strategies for both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. Through their recent partnering with Talent SprocketTM, LLC (St. Petersburg, FL) they are the first leadership and enterprise performance firm to incorporate advanced, machine learning into their approach. Talent Sprocket incorporates sophisticated algorithms to deliver Predictive Human AnalyticsTM, a major step forward in the rapidly growing, talent management arena. The combination of Performance Transformation’s proprietary, developmental approach and Talent Sprocket’s analytical capabilities delivers concise, return on investment metrics for leadership development, a very unique benefit in the industry.

“Everybody claims to be an expert today, especially in the field of leadership development,” added Terry. “When we look at the research data, it’s quite obvious there are very, very few effective leadership development companies delivering viable solutions and value in the market. Corporations and institutions have invested nearly $1 trillion over the past twenty years in behaviorally-based leadership development programs. The ROI is pitiful, representing perhaps the worst, collective investment companies have made over the past two decades.”

The Gallup® Company’s recent, annual survey on the State of the American Workplace once again pegs employee disengagement at 70%. This figure has remained stagnant for more than a decade. McKinsey® published a study less than two years ago that demonstrated only 1% of executives scored excellent in eight key leadership competencies. Ninety percent scored below average.

Terry is the author of “The Transformational Entrepreneur”, which was cited by the academic Journal of Economic Literature in March, 2012. Performance Transformation’s pro bono program, “Warriors in Transition”, was formally commended by General David Petraeus in 2010. The program imparts leadership and resiliency skills in combat veterans working to successfully navigate the transition home. It has also

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been employed extensively for veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress to support Post Traumatic Growth.

“What would our economy, companies and nation look like today if these traditional approaches to leadership development had actually delivered on their promise? It’s why we come armed with a validated, neurologically-based approach grounded in the needs of the individual as well as the business, build skills around tangible business outcomes, and hold ourselves accountable with our analytics capabilities. We’re determined to make a change.”

In addition to publishing his book in 2011, Terry has written and published more than 300 articles and blogs, openly sharing his wisdom, knowledge and expertise. He is a frequent guest of the media and a sought after speaker for professional conferences and symposia.

“Congruency is such a part of our philosophy and we believe in giving forward and openly contributing to support positive change in our society and communities,” said Terry. “Capitalism can be, and should be, a force for good. When business leaders embrace this perspective, it resonates with today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational, global workforce. Enormous productivity gains and value is lying quietly, just beneath the surface in many companies and organizations. Our approach is proven to capture and leverage that value, driving remarkable, breakthrough business results. We simply will no longer subsidize individuals and corporations that don’t share in our honesty and authenticity.”

For more information on Performance Transformation, please call (941) 485-7428.

© 2013, Performance Transformation, LLC™.  All Rights Reserved.

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Five Steps for Solving the Endemic Employee Disengagement Crisis

The Gallup Company® just released their annual report, The State of the American Workforce ~ 2013, and once again, employee engagement levels are woefully low.  Sadly, this isn’t news.  This has been consistently reported upon for at least ten years.  Addressing employee engagement represents the most cost effective way a company can improve productivity and profitability.  Here’s a few strategies that can make a difference in a few short months.

It’s an issue we’ve been discussing for years.  In fact, one of my earliest blogs on this site explored this very topic.  While we speak with business leaders and HR executives every day, we hear them expressing their desire to improve on collaboration, innovation, productivity and performance.  None of these objectives can emerge without first engaging the workforce, both cognitively and emotionally.  Yet, for some reason, the disconnect remains.  The recent Gallup study identifies only 30% of employees are engaged, 20% are actively disengaged (meaning their spreading discontent and working at cross purpose with their employers…actually destroying value), and 50% are disengaged, meaning they’re sleepwalking through their day.  Our additional research identifies the fact that upwards of 50% of many firms’ payrolls, their single largest expense line, is delivering little to no return on investment.

When we consider that in today’s New Economy, value creation in business emerges through the efficient commercialization of intellectual property, we must understand that human beings are the new raw material of production.  Now, if Henry Ford had been experiencing a scrap rate of 50% on steel, his raw material of the day, I think he would have found his way down to the factory floor and addressed it in relatively short order.  Yet, the Gallup study reveals this endemic situation has been steady since 2001.  Eleven years of leaving value lying fallow on industries’ floor.

How important is this issue for businesses, hospitals and our economy overall?  Let’s take a look…

The Business Case for Employee Engagement ~

Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity every year.

For a small to medium size company, with 100 employees averaging (on the low end) $45,000 in salary and benefits, actively disengaged employees are costing the business owner $1,350,000 in wasted compensation and, conservatively, another $500,000 in destroyed productivity of fellow associates.  Giving the sleepwalkers the benefit of the doubt, that they’re contributing something at least half of the time, are also costing the business owner $1,125,000 in wasted compensation.  As a business owner, can you afford to keep tossing approximately $3 million a year out the window?

Looking at the comparisons between companies in the top quartile of reported engagement, versus those in the bottom quartile of engagement, higher engaged firms:

~ Score 10% higher in customer ratings

~ Are 22% more profitable

~ Have 65% lower turnover rates

~ Enjoy 37% lower absenteeism

~ Incur 48% fewer safety-related accidents

~ Experience 28% lower shrinkage

~ Create 41% fewer quality defects

~ Hospitals incur 41% fewer patient safety incidents

After twenty five years of leadership experience, in both corporate and entrepreneurial settings, and five years of research, application and validation of our philosophy and approach at Performance Transformation, LLC™, we know how to solve employee disengagement in five, relatively easy, and very cost affordable steps (you’ll actually lower your training and development expenses by following our suggestions while unleashing remarkable breakthroughs in productivity, creativity and innovation):

mckinsey-quarterly-right-leaders-image-0031.) Address the broken, traditional leadership development approach.  Over the past 20 years, corporations and institutions have invested upwards of $1 trillion in leadership development programs.  The results?  Thanks to Gallup’s study, we’re staring them right in the face…and McKinsey & Company reported in July, 2011 only 1% of “C” level and “one-step down” executives scored excellent in eight key leadership competencies.  Nearly 90% scored below average.  Leadership development based in the theories of behavioral psychology simply don’t work.  If you disagree, please show me the proof.  We must migrate to an approach based in neuroscience to address the underlying causation of behaviors in the workplace.  We must conduct leadership development around tangible business outcomes.  Experiential learning and immediate application, framed by an educationally-based coaching process is essential.  Demand a clear ROI to be reported on every developmental investment from your vendors.

2.) Help HR bring their focus and practices into the landscape of the 21st Century.  While line management is playing to win, based upon their historical charter of responsibilities, HR has little choice but to play not to lose.  Due to this, many HR practices have naturally evolved to be highly risk-averse at a time when boldness and leadership is most needed.  As an example, traditional Diversity & Inclusion training (another $8 billion per year expense with no discernible ROI) is archaic and typically a vacuous exercise lacking context, strategic communication, or business application.  D&I training needs to transform into Collaboration & Innovation learning.  We’re already diverse (companies are very multi-cultural and multi-generational, but still far too homogenous at the senior levels), but real inclusion cannot emerge without engagement.  Also, resist automating misaligned HR practices still rooted in the Industrial Age with Talent Management systems that are little more than CRM platforms turned inward.  First, process map your procedures and competency models to see if they’re actually in alignment with the rapidly changing needs of the business.  Then, and only then, migrate to systems that enable predictive analytics through the use of machine learning technology.  It is through this application that insights into the future will emerge rather than simply accelerating and duplicating the broken processes of the past.

3.) Stop spending money on foolish Team Building workshops.  Get down off the ropes courses, stop building toy boats in resort swimming pools, put the paint gun pistols down, and leave the trust falls to adolescent summer camps where they belong.  Many of these so-called team building activities are exclusionary to older workers, workers that may have physical limitations, or workers that have differing cultural concerns.  Want to cultivate collaborative behaviors?  Focus on cultivating relationship-based skills (i.e. Emotional Intelligence) and only conduct Team Building within the direct and immediate context of the business.  Invest in employee development using meaningful and science-based learning modalities.  The recent discoveries from the neurosciences provides us with rich insights into what truly matters and provides us with a roadmap for sparking lasting, meaningful neurological change in perspectives and orientations of one’s self, of others, and how we can engage in positive communication and open collaboration.

4.) Create an organizational culture that embraces and celebrates intrinsic values (authentic relationships, purposefulness, personal and professional development, being a part of something larger than one’s self, service to others) over extrinsic values (money, power, prestige).  Intrinsic values are core to human happiness while extrinsic values are anchored in culture and conditioning.  We were all born to care for one another; it’s part of our primary survival mechanism.  No other mammal on the planet is born more vulnerable or develops more slowly than human beings.  Without empathy and compassion, our natural, inborn attributes that enabled us to evolve over the past 80,000 years, we never would have survived as a species.  Leveraging intrinsic values engages the entire human continuum, transcending the superficial differences of cultural perspectives and generational orientations.

5.) Align and optimize transformational leadership, enlightened strategy and a highly engaging and inclusive organizational culture.  This is the primary theme of my book, The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging The Mind, Heart & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success, published in February, 2011.  Companies that thrive follow this path.  This isn’t conjecture, the book provides historical facts and was cited by the academic Journal of Economic Literature in March, 2012.

It truly is this straight forward.  But if you want to thrive, and going forward, simply survive in business, the first step is up to you.  You have to want to make the change, awaken and take a few steps forward, and stop simply talking about it.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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They Say Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

We’ve all heard it said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  I suppose it is true…at the very least, it’s quite validating.  I’m referring to the relatively recent entrance of two medical device behemoths attempting to reinvent themselves to take advantage of the changes necessitated by the mandated reform emerging in U.S. health care.

During a recent review of our firm’s SEO rankings related to key word searches, we came across an interesting discovery.  GE Healthcare, a company that annually earns billions of dollars in revenue through the sale of MRI and advanced imaging equipment, popped up when searching the name of our firm, Performance Transformation, LLC™.  The Milwaukee-based subsidiary of General Electric Corporation has launched a business services unit with the title, “Performance Transformation“, along with the tag line “Driving Breakthrough Performance Improvement”.  Also interesting was one of the tabs on their site describing their new initiative entitled, “Strategy, Leadership, and Performance Transformation”.

The Transformational Entrepreneur CoverWell, at least I know they read my book, “The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging The Mind, Heart & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success”, published in February of 2011, and cited by the academic Journal of Economic Literature in March, 2012.

I’d like to share a quote from Chapter Two:  “Creating transformational performance is like igniting a fire; it requires three fundamental elements.  A fire requires a source of heat, fuel, and oxygen in order to burn.  Transformational performance requires authentic, conscious leadership (the heat), a visionary strategic plan (the fuel), and a creative culture that fully engages the entire workforce (the oxygen).”  In fact it was from these words that our own tag line emerged, which is a part of our trademarked logo, “Leadership ~ Strategy ~ Culture”.  Could GE have come any closer, without risk of infringement, by using Strategy, Leadership, and Performance Transformation?

During one of my media appearances in 2011, with Jim Blasingame on his nationally syndicated Small Business Advocate® Show, Jim stopped the interview and asked me to repeat my insight again, commenting, “Leadership, strategy, culture. Everyone of those things, folks, you heard us talk about on the show before, but only Terry has pulled it together in one little nugget.  Remember this folks, it’s going to be on the test.”  (If you’re so inclined, you can listen to the interview on the Forbes website).

What’s even more interesting is the fact that I met with a senior GE Healthcare associate at the 2011 American Society for Training and Development Conference, who expressed her sincere interest in our approach (you can watch the video of my presentation at the conference here).  The irony is that when we followed up with her after the meetings, she told me that GE Healthcare was under a mandate that all learning and development programs must be delivered through elearning platforms.  No experiential learning or blended learning would be purchased, but she added, “Give me a call back in a year or so…we change direction every 18 months.”

If you read GE Healthcare’s webpage on their new programs, it reads right out of the playbook I put forth in my book and on this website over the past several years.  They talk about development through a structure of Goals and Objectives (Chapter Seven), a process of candor and consistency for engagement (my words are authenticity and congruency for engagement, Chapter Six), organizational values and culture (Chapter Eight), and the use of custom leadership development curriculum integrated with strategic projects and stretch assignments (our Accretive Coaching Process℠, Chapter Nine).

Upon reading this I thought, with tongue in cheek, “Gee, perhaps they should consider changing their slogan from GE, Imagination At Work® to GE, Imitation At Work“.  The reason I am sharing this with you today is I do wish to point out that, quite often, being big doesn’t necessarily equate with being the first to innovate.  We rolled out our first program for healthcare, entitled, “The Emotionally Resilient Nurse”, in 2009, built around the same vision, approach and philosophy we’ve been following all along.  Of note, on June 5, 2013, just ten days ago, GE announced a new program for nurses; their Nurse Executive Fellowship program.  Nimble, creative thought leadership and innovation often comes from entrepreneurial firms, which is why global pharmaceutical companies pursue an acquisition strategy of small biotech firms in an attempt to fill their innovation pipelines.  But at least they pay for it.

Over the past year, we’ve integrated several exciting, advanced collaboration and talent management software platforms into our process as well.  Just two days ago, GE Healthcare announced they’ll be investing $2 billion over the next two years in software development to support their new initiatives.  Now, everyone is doing this as well, but it does seem to follow a pattern.

Just because you’re copying a business model and strategy doesn’t mean you can execute on it.  Let’s face it, migrating from a capital equipment sales and service model based around high tech imaging systems to one based upon developing the human element in health care is a wide chasm to traverse.  Especially when one’s own corporate culture is highly command-and-control and out of step with the rapidly changing needs of today’s business and health care environment.  I understand GE Healthcare’s need to reinvent themselves; the days of imaging centers popping up on every other street corner and hospitals pursuing one-up-manship with each other by buying the newest MRI are long gone.  IBM reinvented themselves from a hardware company to a service company, so I imagine GE Healthcare is trying to follow the same survival strategy.

And, oh, by the way, Royal Philips Electronics, GE Healthcare’s primary competitor, just announced their new initiative, Healthcare Transformation Services Business, a month ago.

One must keep one’s sense of humor and perspective about such things…perhaps imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
© 2013, Terry Murray. 

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June 15, 2013 · 10:56 am