Prioritizations the first 30 days of your 100-day plan

Target 30

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Week 3 and 4 are intensive as you learn the business as fast as you can. It is also the point where you start instilling a sense of urgency and firming up expectations. Here are 5 suggestions of what top prioritize during this section.

Learn the business

Might sound like a given. Your appointment immediately steers the flow of critical business issues your way. You want to secure you learn the whole business and not only the urgent burning tactical issues.

Set up meetings to review strategies and business plans. Work through the execution plans and the coupling to execution. Get a grip on your customers, great ones as well as the ones where you struggle.

Dive as deep as you can in numbers. Critical to understand if the team is hitting or missing your numbers. And to understand where reality and numbers are out of synch.

Listen Carefully

Listening is critical in this part of your 100-day plan. It is hard to learn when you talk. This is your best opportunity to get the big picture from a big group of people. Both from one-on-one conversations as well as team sessions.

Listen to what people want to tell you. Both good and bad things of the operations. Ask questions about what you want to know. Well-articulated questions is your best friend during these explorations.

At this stage you start framing a hypothesis of the business. You want your model to be as close to reality as possible. The better you listen the better are the odds you capture it right. Team members’ collective descriptions will outperform your thoughts/ illusions of the starting point.

Extend listening to customers

It is always a challenge for how early you should engage with customers, before you have any firm view of your plan.

This is the best opportunity you get to take in information unbiased. Get a feeling for the shoes you are filling from your predecessor. Understand areas of major satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Poke for where customers see major opportunities for your company.

As the world goes more digital you want to probe deep into the customer experience and discovery journeys you offer. Expect this are to be the one requiring most development.

Create a burning imperative

You don’t have all details clear but you need to create a burning imperative as a foundation for the change you want to drive.

At this stage you don’t have a clear view of the big picture and long term direction. But you want to communicate a clear picture of what the team need to do now. Stick to the execution your team need to focus on. This will buy you time to define the bigger plan.

Firm up expectations

Start firming up your expectations on the team. Your team need guidance on expectations before all roles are clear. You need to set directions to test the match between your expectations and the capabilities of your team.

Questions to work with

  1. What are the steering documents used today – your base for understanding the business.
  2. How well are the plans aligned with reality – applies to both older and recently created plans.
  3. Which priorities do you see when evaluating plans – trust your instincts and listen for details.
  4. Which library of questions do you plan to use to get a grip of the business.
  5. What should go into your burning imperative – keep it focused on driving immediate results.
  6. Which customers should you meet first – your perhaps most critical selection decision.
  7. Which expectations do you want to set for the rest of your 100-day plan.

Additional reading suggestions 

Where to focus the first 15 days of your 100-day plan

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When taking over a new organization you get 100 days at best to move into your new role. Valuable experiences and where to focus what to do the first 100 days are well documented. Sometimes it can be hard to turn all great advices into a suitable execution plan. Here are some ideas of what to focus on the first 15 days of your 100-day plan.

Get a high level view of the business situation

New leaders often come in when an organization need to step-up or turn-around. As a new leader you want to get your own feeling for what your new business look like as soon as possible. You want to build a solid understanding of the current state of the business you will run. Numbers, customers, and expectation centric.

For turn-around situations expect it to be worse than your recruitment brief. It is rare to see new leaders appointed at the point when the need occurs. Nor is it likely you were available as fast as desired. For growth situations you first want to secure the current business is running smooth.  To secure you have a solid platform for an aggressive growth agenda.

Dive into important opportunities and deals together with your sales representatives when you join. Most other jobs can wait.

As the new leader you can also expect an instant shift in escalations to come your way the first day in office.

Interview your team members

As you get parachuted into the new role one of your first priorities is to get to know your team members. Both through meeting your new team members and by getting second opinions from the rest of the organization.

It is important to understand the team and how they have operated. You want to understand if you take over a team or a group of professionals. You seek to understand the balance in the team between different skills and capabilities.

Describe how you are and what you stand for

Expect the team to be curious about who their new leader is. Your team second guess and interpret every move you make in the beginning. You will put your leadership footprint on the organization from day one. You can make it easy by stating what some of your main leadership principles you stand for.

This is the part of your first 15 days you can prepare well in advance of taking over the team

Establish interfaces to the remaining key stake holders

For senior positions you often get interviewed by the key stakeholders with whom you will interact. If you have not been meeting certain key stake holders as part of the interview process you want to reach out as early as possible. Focus on taking in their perspectives on your role, their expectations on you and how you can support them to be successful.

You and your team just represent 2/3 of what it takes for you to deliver. At least 1/3 will come from organizations around you

Get basic governance in place 

Basic governance structures are often defined. But as a new leader you want to get a grip on the situation early and you need to get your team to do the most work for you. The areas I consider a basic governance are three things. First how do you want the team to interact with you and vice versa. Second what are the most important meetings you want the team to attend. And third what formal/informal reports to you start the operations around.

Secure business as usual for execution

The low point of any organization is likely just before an appointment of a new manager. As you enter in the team you need to accelerate the pace of what the team was doing before. There is no point in changing first and then driving up the tempo. Send a clear message for your team to step up the pace with what they are doing and learn from them about their new situations.

While you think and network to understand the landscape you want your whole team to carry the operational load. Results need to come from day 1 even if you initially have little potential to affect them.

Key questions to ask yourself

  1. What have been part of your previous 15 days in a new role – you did perhaps not have a plan but nevertheless took a number of actions.
  2. How good brief have you been given as part of the recruitment process – this is the starting point for your actions.
  3. Which fundamental parts of your leadership style do you want your team to see day one – You are best off by both telling and showing what your leadership style is like.
  4. Who are the key remaining stakeholders and what role do you play in making them successful – for some you will be a threat and for some you will be mission critical ally.
  5. Which governance principles have make you successful in the past – bring your best tools but don’t expect all your old tools to be great for your new environment.

Additional reading suggestions

Your last 2 weeks before moving into a new leadership role

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The last 2 weeks before you move into a new leadership role you have the opportunity to prepare to make your first 100 days successful. Use this time wisely to and focus on a few key things you can and should do before you start your important mission.

Refine your interpretation of the role

Advertised role descriptions don’t address all you need to understand about the role. Vital input is often left out to give you room to shape the direction of the role. You can come better prepared if the you are clear over what is defining the role such as:

  • In which stage of the business cycle is the market segment you will operate?
  • Is your role about business turn-around, margin expansion or sales acceleration?
  • Will you tune an existing team or build a leadership team from scratch?
  • Are the biggest challenges strategy, execution or both?
  • Will you, your team or your peers be most critical for success?
  • What is the length of your commitment?
  • What are the stars and stinkers that need immediate attention?
  • How will you make your manager successful?

Get to know your key stakeholders

As part of the interview process you are likely to meet both future peers and key stakeholders a level up. Take the opportunity to ask for their perspectives and expectations on the role. Either during interviews or after appointment but before announcements.

This is your opportunity to build your network to key stakeholders. By listening and taking in view points from a variety of stakeholders. Once you are official you want to have your 10 key stakeholder relationships established. Beyond the sheer numbers aspire to understand who is “the teacher”, “the driver” and the “skeptic”. The ones change makers driving decisions forward. Validate with your new manager once you have your hypothesis clear.

Develop your idea for how you would like to make a difference

A key part of winning a senior job is to have an idea for how you would like to make a difference. Your profile and idea of what you plan to do need to match the expected outcomes.

By refining your idea during the interview process you will develop into our out from the role. Be ready to say no if the idea and your gut feelings of the direction is different from your critical stake holders.

The leadership you will bring to table

Soon after you are announced you want to put your leadership to work. Ask yourself the hard questions in advance your team and stakeholders will search for first. Clarity on what you and your leadership stands for is up to you to develop before stepping into the role.

Start with the most obvious ones you can back up with examples from day 1.

  • Are you a strategy or execution biased leader?
  • Do all your meetings start on time?
  • Do you delegate and support or demand and micro manage?
  • Do you give out tasks once or do you run two rabbits for critical questions?
  • Do you decide early and in steps or late and complete for bigger decisions?

Plan your 30/60/90 or 100-day plan

Expect the question to deliver a plan for how to start the journey. Resist filling it with content but be clear over the steps you plan to take. Possible such steps will be addressed in a series of upcoming blogposts. And plan to break your 10o first days into a set of pre-defined steps.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. What is my refined understanding of the role – trust your instincts in interpreting the role.
  2. Who are my 10 most important stakeholders and their perspectives – build relationships as fast as you can.
  3. What is my idea for the role at hand – to a large shaped by your own thinking and your mentors.
  4. Which leadership will I bring – focus on basics you can prove immediately.
  5. What is your standard plan for a 100-day plan – focus on steps rather than content.
  6. What do I do to recharge and refresh before stepping in to the role – aspire to come in excited and fired-up from day 1.

Additional reading suggestions 

How transform from yearly to quarterly execution goals in 5 quarters

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A vital enabler for digital businesses is to operate towards concrete and near term targets. Software development is today lean and operating with 2 or 4 weeks long sprints. Other parts of the organization are likely operating towards yearly goals. across a spectrum of measures. Here you will learn how to transform to quarterly horizons in 5 quarters.

A new framework guiding execution

You should consider attacking four factors. The first is to reduce the cycle times. Break down yearly goals into quarterly goals. Turn quarterly follow ups into monthly. Move from monthly progress meetings to weekly. Length of each meeting reduced to not increase the total time invested in progress meetings. The higher frequency drive intensity.

The second is to restrict focus for each quarter to no more than 5 areas. Instead of 10-20 measures monitored during a whole year. 90 days of focus add more value than 365 days of ambition. Review focus each quarter.

The third is about how you evolve your ability to lead and your team members evolve their ability to execute. It will not happen overnight for neither leader nor team members. Lead your team with one new element you introduce as a leader each quarter. Refine it during the quarter to s point where you can delegate to the team and team members the next quarter.

Step 1 – Top down definition of 5 quarterly priorities

Focus on get going immediately. Leader define 5 priorities for the first quarter. Increase frequency of meetings direct from start. All time in progress meetings should focus on the 5 priorities.

Results to expect in this phase is focus on essentials and a group starting to develop towards a team. As a leader you develop your ability to set crisp goals, how to activate goals in your team and coaching your team for success.

Step 2 – Team defining priorities and quarterly plan for the team.

Part of the approach is to let your team grow with responsibility in each step. If you defined the goals top-down in the first quarter your team is ready to take an active role.  Defining the five priority areas for your second quarter.

As you can in this stage introduce a quarterly plan. A plan laying out important milestones for the first, second and third month. And starting to steer your team members to contributing in 1-3 areas during the quarter.

Results to expect in the quarter is a team on top of the quarterly priorities.  As a leader you your skills in how well you can define a 90-day plan get tested. And how well you secure your team share the priorities across the team. Each activity in your team plan is allocated to a team member.

Step-3 – Individual quarterly contribution plans.

At this stage the team goal definition is a piece of cake. The team understand the team activities. Your team and you want to support all team members to define a personal plan for their contributions during the quarter. A plan focused on supporting 2 out of the 5 areas driven by the team.

Results to expect is a better correlation between team ambition and individual activities. Plans tend to be front loaded with planned activities and back loaded with actual results. By sharing the team’s goal and priorities with peer organizations you increase your influence. Operating with clear priorities stimulate your peer organizations to follow.  The added benefit is the commitment to the priorities is becoming stronger from your team.

Step-4 – Share first individual plans with peer organizations

Your team is now mature enough to start sharing the individual plans with peer organizations. Once you take down plans to a personal and shared level you can start to get great feedback already at the planning stage. Be open to sharing your plans before executing, and you increase the likelihood of focusing on the right activities

Results to expect at this stage is more confident team members daring to take input on their plans. Not all team members might be ready to share their plans. And as long as they learn from team members who are ready this is fine. How fast we are ready to share our pans varies across your team members. Encourage your team members to refine their plans based on previous quarters plans. At this stage you as leader are lobbying towards your peer organizations to adopt a similar approach. It is first when all teams work with 5 quarterly priorities you will reach the full potential.

Step 5 – Team and all members operate with share plans

Here the team and your team members operate with clear priorities, a clear team plan and solid individual plans. And expect a few more quarters until you have moved from yearly to quarterly execution targets. Easy said and perhaps a journey of 6-8 quarters for most team to master.

Questions for you and your team

  1. Which goals and priorities do we steer towards today – Focus on articulating the horizon for your main goals and the amount of goals and priorities.
  2. How do we break down the goals towards goals for team and individuals today – focus on the accuracy in break down and nature of follow-up.
  3. Why do we want to work with shorter horizons for our goals – the reason varies from team to team
  4. What define the amount of priorities we can handle – see 5 as a maximum rather than a guideline.
  5. What is our maturity level to operate with agile goals – leverage your strongest team members and their experiences.
  6. Which proven templates can we use – Expect it to be hard to start from scratch.

Additional reading suggestions

Approach business plans & cases the way you used to study

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Business plans and business cases are common terms with many meanings. As businesses become digital our business planning and cases need to evolve. I have found it useful to guide teams by relating to the structure of university curriculum. An analogy anyone with a business degree can relate to.

Why old models for business plans and cases struggle

The basic idea behind business plans and business cases is to lay foundation for investments. Deeper and deeper analysis the bigger the investment is.

Models following a logic flow from market analysis and leading to a wanted position and clear long term ambitions. Often resulting in thorough market analysis results but thin on execution plans.

The classic business models and business case building approach struggle when

  • The opportunity input develops as multi-dimensional iterations, rather than a logical waterfall.
  • Needs are vague from the beginning and developed with hypothesis as basis for solution prototypes.
  • Large initial uncertainties with regards to revenue, volume and cost projections.

Define your vision and BHAG

Your studies were likely driven by the vision to graduate with a certain profession. A clear target 3-4 years out and a lot of hard work on the road. Developing a new business often start by the vision and the long term goal. A goal often stretching the imagination of the possible. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) that you and your team work towards.

Break down the job into semesters

The key to successful studies is to focus on the study modules in each semester. Low single digit in number of modules per semester, with a duration of 8-12 weeks.

The execution plan for a new business is dependent on execution in small blocks. In the best plans you know what you should do first. With a horizon of 1-2 semesters with clear focus in activities and concrete results. In a similar way most of us approached our studies.

Weak plans and cases struggle to articulate the first mission critical steps. By adopting 3-4 areas of focus in each semester you increase the odds of reaching the destiny.

The sequence of activities matters

The courses in a curriculum for a degree come in a particular order. Laid out with easier subjects and harder and harder as you develop. And skipping a subject in a semester lead to immediate consequences for classes in the following semester

The same principles apply in business. You need a clear idea on how to structure a new business with a 3-4 year perspective. Well defined blocks that are characteristic for how a business develops. Built from experiences in previous ventures. And with a clear idea what is part of the initial semesters to get you off the ground.

Pulling it all together as a success plan

Build your plan towards a well-defined modules of activities. Split the market analysis task into module with gradual build of insights semester by semester. Engage launch customers around your market hypothesis and solution prototypes. Expect business models to be a moving target,

Great questions to ask you and your team

  1. What can you apply from your own university years – think about the target (degree), layout (curriculum) and semester activities (studies).
  2. What was your drill each semester to allow you to pass the exams – expect similar execution patterns for your 4/8/10 week sprints.
  3. What happened when you missed an exam and had to double down to recover – with high focus and intensity each semester it is hard to play catch-up.
  4. How was your energy and productivity distributed over each semester – useful insights for planning of your plans for each semester.
  5. What is the optimal length of a semester for our business – expect it to vary with market and type of offering.
  6. Who can we steal a proven business plan master curriculum layout from – study is hard enough, designing curriculum on the fly make it impossible.

Additional reading suggestions 

Questions for second interview round to find best candidate

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The first round serves the purpose of finding great candidates. The second round is about selecting the best candidate for your team. At this stage you could be interviewing as a hiring manager or for peer interviews.  These questions work for both situations.

Second round of interviews is a two-way sell

The difference between the first and second round is the intention to close. And the nature of these interviews are sales oriented. The hiring manager aim to attract all candidates to select the best one. The candidates compare the role to their second best alternative, another new job or staying in the current role. Two-way selling characterize all interviews in this stage.

What insights about the role have you gained in the first interview rounds?

At this stage you want to understand what the candidate have picked up about the role. Great candidates have used the first interview rounds to listen and learn about the role. A Good understanding of the role, and an ability to articulate it is the foundation for selecting the best candidate.

What is the difference you would like to make?

Ambitious candidates manage to articulate how they can make a difference in the new role. Listen for which of their skills they see as central for this role. Let the lead the conversation to how they plan to make a difference.

Give examples on how you have implemented your suggestions in the past

The most valuable insights at this stage is to let your candidate give examples of how he has acted before. It gives you the opportunity to understand how deep their skills are and how they have used their skills in the past. Start open ended and let the candidate talk you through their experiences.

What support do you need to be successful in your new role?

Strong leader realizes they are part of a bigger machinery. Ask about what they expect from peer organizations. Clear expectations towards peers is key for great collaborations.

Ask what the candidate expect from his new team. The team need to fill the gaps in candidates’ capabilities. The more your candidate know about his shortcomings the better. It will be easier to secure the 2-3 most important people in the team complement your candidate.

Ask how your candidate plan to develop contact networks and grow his influence. At senior levels your ability to influence outside your own team is key to success.

What does your 30/60/90-day plan look like?

The time from the second round of interviews and execution is short. The plan for your first quarter play a key role for interviews at this stage. A 30/60/90-day plan or 100-day plan outlines the impact and mark you expect your new leader to make.

Tune your questions depending on how familiar the leader is with the organization. For Internal candidates you can ask for concrete ideas about their plan. For external candidates it will be hard to get answers. Your time is better spent on how your candidate approach the process rather than the exact content.

Changes in structure and staff

One of the most common expectations on a new leader is he or she will make changes in structure and staff. You can ask questions about this at this stage to set expectations you expect changes and actions in this field. But leaders having a clear and crisp opinions early on might rush to conclusions. Postpone to gone deep enough in understanding strengths and weaknesses of the current team.

Questions to ask yourself to prepare for the interview

  1. What type of candidate do you look for – this might have changed from the first round of interviews.
  2. Why are you interviewing the candidate – we all cover different bases in 30 minutes and your job is likely to cover certain questions more than others.
  3. Which questions will you use – come prepared with a set of clear questions in your mind
  4. Decide in advance how you contribute to selling the role – an area most interviewers miss.
  5. Think through the next steps – the candidate will ask for steps, selection criteria and actions required.

Additional reading suggestions

Rethink job pursuit, start by thinking 2 jobs / 5 years out

Happy New Year bright red text

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Making the leap to the next role is a challenge all career minded professionals face on a continuous basis. Most have a clear opinion about what they aim for next, but few have a clear for the role beyond your next one. By taking a grip on your goal 2 roles out in a 5 year perspective, you are likely to see more ways to get there. Here are my perspectives on how to structure such an activity.

Common career perspectives

A career plan often starts around basic aspiration Your management aspirations can be to grow your responsibility, e.g. people, money and type of roles. But the paths and ideas varies between professionals.

When discussing career ideas and paths three things stand out. First most mentees focus on what they want as next role and how to get it. Second mentees aspire to get experience from several areas. The third observation is few mentees have a perspective on the role after next. The result is often firm short term ideas with a high flexibility in the medium/long-term direction.

The alternative way of thinking I would like to suggest is to be firm on what you plan to do two roles out. A target built on aspirations, dreams and a clear understanding what it takes to get there. Once your target is clear you can be open minded about the different alternative routes taking you there. The pint of being firm about future and flexible about present is you will always move in the right directions. Near term flexibility is not to be open to anything short term. Rather to be open to consider different paths taking you towards your target.

Start with the end in mind

Defining your medium term career aspirations is hard. Pick a good note book. Collect ideas and thoughts over a period of time. Have serious conversations with yourself about what you love to do. Aspire to find some simple principles to guide you. One of the best examples I have heard was an Executive describing his principles as

  • FUN – I want to enjoy what I do to perform well
  • GROW – I want to grow my personal capabilities and never want to be fully capable in a role.
  • PAY – I want to get paid to support the life I want to live as a person and with mi family.
  • 3X – I want all three factors to be in place for any given role.

Build on the principles resonating best with you. For this part of your journey you might want to explore open conversations with senior leaders you have met and respect. A 15-30 minute conversation at this stage give you new perspectives beyond your own thinking. Most leaders your know are happy to share ideas with with you once you trust them to guide you in your career choices.

Your target two roles out

When you define your target you want to spend time thinking on both who you will be and what you will do. Professionals seem to be better at describing what they do and struggle in describing who they are.

What is the level of role you target, ranging from CEO down to an individual contributor. What is the core competence you associate yourself with? Perhaps with sales and development at the two extreme ends. In which part of the world do you see yourself? Not all parts of the world might suit you and your family.

Coming to an understanding of this direction is important. We tend to gain a reputation fast in our home organization. Tour superiors and peers tend to but you in a certain category. In narrow categories representing a share of your true capability. You want the “window to your peers” to represent who you are and what you want to do.

Flexibility in what to pursue next

Once you have defined your target role you are better equipped to direct your search for a great role. Make a list of roles with potential to take you towards your target. List what you can expect to learn in each role. Evaluate the potential to perform well. The next great job always starts with performing well in your current role.

Avoid tow move in one, both changing the field your work in and the level you operate is tough. Aim for lateral moves between functional areas or vertical moves in a filed you know.

Expect the unexpected near term. During one major re-organization I interviewed for 4 different roles at the same time, and landed happy in one of them. For another role the first contact was in the evening and the next day I have accepted. Neither of the two came out of slump. But an idea of where I wanted to go, and an openness to listen to options.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. What are the principles guiding your professional life – the start for great career planning.
  2. Who are the senior leaders you would like to ask for advice – aim for the best ones you have met.
  3. What is the role you aim for two jobs out – an approximation of a 5-year target.
  4. Which role openings do you expect to see near term – start to position yourself for the ones you want before they are listed.

Additional reading suggestions

The first time I applied this thinking I was coached to take input from the leadership team of our company to shape my own ideas. Thanks TM, it was one of the better things I have done to learn about where to focus my professional energy.

Aim to develop a T, π or #-shaped competence profile

Hashtag symbol in the sky

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Businesses are putting increased focus on finding the right talent for their future challenges. A journey were most companies need to make a big leap. Starting from a combination of generalists and experts as the human backbone for their business. As the business complexity goes up and the need for innovation increase companies face a new reality. One where diverse teams with new competence profiles play a central role. And were you as an professional need to evolve to stay relevant.

What is T, π and #-shaped competence

Five main profiles can summarize the competence and experience profile of professionals:

  1. – Shaped, a generalist profile who now a little about everything but without deep skills in an area. Think professionals who often make large lateral moves between job areas.
  2. I – Shaped, having deep expertize in a narrow field of work. Think PhDs and gurus in your company.
  3. T- Shaped, a professional with deep technical or commercial competence. Combined with broad social and analytical capabilities.
  4. π – Shaped, a professional with both technical and commercial expertize and the above. or the capability to execute current and build new business at the same time.
  5. # – Shaped, true unicorns and the rock stars any organization need to stay competitive.

The three latter categories are what forward looking companies look for.  You need them when staffing diverse innovative teams.

Step up your game towards a T-Shaped Competence profile

The room for – Shaped generalists is shrinking fast. If this profile is your starting point you need to consider developing an expertize area that will be relevant in the future. Good news is there is many niches of future expertize that will be relevant. The difficult job is to pick the best one for you.

The I-Shaped specialists have often been groomed in silos. If you have been working a long time in the same field you are likely in this category. Especially if you consider your interfaces to adjacent organizations as stable.  You have an easier journey than your – shaped colleagues.  But you need to focus on how to create value with/through others rather than with own efforts.

The capabilities you should aim for is a T-shaped profile with one or several of the following:

  • A broad understanding of the market you operate in
  • A holistic view of how customers’ situation and their needs
  • Understanding of which questions to ask to understand how a given market/customer is unique from its peers.
  • Detailed knowledge about business enablers. Such as technologies, distribution channels, business models and marketing- & sales process.

The biggest challenge you are likely to see when moving from I-shape to T-shape will be your ability to collaborate.  where focus is on with experts in fields outside your own. In a market environment with high vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). Expect a larger share of your work to be in grey zones rather than in crisp and clear colors.

Longer term goal of π- and #-shaped competence profile

The role of T-Shaped competence profile has grown in importance in innovation centric operations. Either in start-ups or in innovation departments of larger companies. But the T-Shape is now becoming a staple across lean organizations. And two new profiles represent the new targets for professionals with high career ambitions.

The π-Shaped competence profile refers to professionals who enjoy multiple expert status. Someone that excel in both the field of product development and sales. An excellent marketing professional with deep commercial skills. What make you qualify into this profile is how deep your skills are in different areas. Just having worked in varied areas is not enough. You have to match specialists in each area.

The #-Shaped competence profile is less defined. To me it is about a multi-layered broad capability. Your ability to work in different cultures, rather than a single market. Your experience from different industries, rather than a single industry or eco-system. And perhaps the most valuable capability. Your ability to influence across a chain of former silos to drive change and adaptability to new markets

Good questions to ask yourself

  1. What is my current competence profile – mapped to one of the 5 main types.
  2. Which areas represent my most valuable expertize assets – you need at least one are of deep expertize.
  3. Which new areas of expertize do my current business need the most – On the job training is the fastest way to grow new so focus on what you have within reach.
  4. How far down the development curve should I aim – set a high but realistic ambitions.
  5. Who could be my mentor to develop the profile I am for next – Learning from the best is not to cheat.

Additional reading suggestions

Company or people as digital advocates for your brand

Individuality man unique different people character golden

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Businesses have realized the high potential of employee advocacy programs.  Your employees acting as a valuable marketing force using social media channels. Your employees’ friends, families and connections represent an untapped marketing potential. But how do Brands need to tune marketing to come across as people rather than a company when using employees as the channel.

Your customers are on social to engage with people

Many studies have pointed out people trust friends more than companies. So brads create employee advocacy programs to reach their employees friends, families and connections.

To leverage this higher level of trust you need to be selective in what to communicate in this channel. Messages resonating in broadcast marketing channels are different. The ones designed for employee advocacy programs are more personal in nature.

Skip talking about what you do and focus on how/why you can help

The transition from outbound to inbound marketing requires a shift from first to second tense. Talk less about we, I and what we do, and use messages centered around you to put customers in focus. You want your employees to come across as focusing on your customers rather than themselves.

Second us social channels to help your customers to learn. Communicate less about your product and how it works. More about your customers’ situation and why it makes sense for them to buy and use your products and services.

What is easy, but centered around you and your offering. Positioning messages towards competition are also more focused on you than your customer. When focusing on how and why centered issues you become more centered in your customers.

Write one liners to your customers from your employees

A personal tone works best for curated corporate feeds in employee advocacy programs. Expect most employees to relay the offered one liners as you publish them. Unless your one liners are exciting and personal your program will get a spam stamp.

See yourself as a headline editor for a newspaper. What would grab the audience attention. Your own social channels are a great testing ground to learn about what make your personal audience excited.

Low hanging fruits

Targeting a  low hanging fruits first to improve your employee advocacy program:

  • Skip links to press releases – outbound centric content don’t work well in inbound channels.
  • Change tense – from first to second tense, you want to come across as the one having your customers in mind.
  • Dedicate time to your headlines – word-smithing and numbers pay of well here.

Questions for you and your team

  1. What dominate our curated messages today – corporate preaching or valuable teaching.
  2. Do we promote what we do or how/why we can help – only the latter generate interest
  3. Are your one liners written to sound like crafted by an employee – the tone of voice must be personal.
  4. Is your program limited by content quality or employee reach – both are critical for success.
  5. Which content creation policy changes do you need to deploy first – all messages need to pass a headline test.

Additional reading suggestions

Build your executive capabilities along 3 trajectories

Grey #4 - Three arrows

© Tweeter Linder 2016 – All rights reserved. Photo by author.

If you aspire to build capabilities for executive roles you need to start early. Consider 3 main trajectories as your baseline. When mapping roles on these three trajectories some will allow you to grow in two dimensions at the same time. These three trajectories give you a sound platform for an executive career.

Grow the number of people you manage

A move from individual contributor to your first people management role is to manage a team of direct reports. Next challenge is to managing team of managers. The further up you grow the more multifaceted people leadership skills you need. Selecting team members, building teams and managing for performance are core skills. And each step of the ladder represents a significant step up in demand. Partly due to the demand, but even more so the narrowing pyramid of roles closer to the top. Consider mentoring early in your career. Staff development become a more and more central of your leadership skills.

Growth the budgets and sales quota you manage

The money management aspect is the second big trajectory. Your budgetary responsibilities grow with larger and larger roles. Detailed cost and sales opportunity tracking skills are key to run efficient operations. You excel by achieving an optimal balance between resource use and business outcomes. This aspect of your executive skills is coupled to how well you deal with pressure. Financial results and deadlines are table stakes. Aspire to pick up corporate governance skills as secretary as early as possible in your career. It is a valuable complement to feel the heat without being in the aim of fire.

Grow experience from different parts of the business

Executive positions require experience from different fields of the business experience. Sales is the most fundamental experience for executives. Customer facing roles develop a sense of urgency and foster an outside-in driven approach.  Marketing and pre-sales experience develop your skills in seeing markets beyond the deal at hand. Sourcing and supply chain roles develop your negotiation capabilities.  And how both sides of the deal table work. In service intensive businesses you need operations experience. In the same way as product houses promote a stint in product management or research and development areas. Last but not least you need experience from different countries. Business life requires executives to manage diversity well across professions and cultural borders.

Questions to ask yourself to develop in this area

  • What type of Executive positions should I aim for – your direction is likely set before 35.
  • Which people management skills should I focus on developing next – selecting and growing people is key to your success
  • How do I prove myself in steps for increasing commercial responsibilities – leverage both sales and sourcing roles to grow.
  • Which type of customer facing experience are central for my executive career development – B2B or B2C is a choice you do early
  • Which cultures do I want to work in – you quickly get an Americas, APAC or EMEA label and it can be hard to move in between.

Additional reading suggestions