Skip to main content

A Guide To Superior Management Effectiveness

Forbes recently named, A New Way To Think, as one of the 10 must-read books for 2022. 

In the book, authored by Roger L. Martin, he urges business leaders to toss out the old ways of thinking, and instead try new models in every domain of management – from competition and customers to strategy, data, culture, talent, mergers and acquisitions, and everything in-between. 

More specifically, within 14 chapters, Martin explores his recommended new ways of thinking about:

  • Competition
  • Stakeholders
  • Customers
  • Strategy
  • Data
  • Knowledge Work
  • Corporate Functions
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Talent
  • Innovation
  • Capital Investment
  • Mergers and Acquisitions

Roger L. Martin 

Today, Martin answers these questions for us: 

Question: As The Great Resignation rages on, what is the most important thing leaders must know about recruiting and retaining top talent? 

Martin: Leaders need to keep two things in mind in dealing with The Great Resignation. 

First, a key driver is adverse reaction to talent being forced back to the office. The COVID lockdowns terminated the habit of commuting to work and doing one’s work at the office and created a new habit – working from home. 

While businesses conceptualized the lockdown aftermath as a return to normal – i.e., working at one’s office – the subconscious thought otherwise. It was a break of the now-comfortable habit of working at home. And the conscious longs for comfort and familiarity over all else. When forced out of the comfort zone, the subconscious drives us to consider all possibilities, not just the one associated with the breaking of habit. That is what talent is doing now. Faced with forced return to the office, it is reevaluating and considering all possibilities – and the status quo is losing a lot of those reevaluations because to the subconscious it doesn’t feel like the status quo. 

To stem The Great Resignation, companies need to work with their talent to slowly develop the new habit of working at the office. If companies are patient, they will be rewarded. 

Second, what leaders need to keep in mind about talent is that it is motivated more by being treated as a unique individual than by being paid the maximum possible amount. 

Talent sees itself as having worked extremely diligently to develop its unique capabilities and hates being treated generically – e.g., you are an EVP, and this is the remuneration and privileges of all of our EVPs. Never lump talent into a category, even a lofty one. Signal that you see each person as an individual who needs to be treated consistently with their individuality.  

This relates back to the first point. A generic return-to-office order is particularly galling to talent. The message is: You are just like everyone else, and we don’t care what you think – you are returning to the office now. Good luck with that! 

Question: As millions of workers quit, culture change is top of mind. But you argue that most culture change efforts fail because leaders try to change it by mandate. What’s the alternative? 

Martin: Culture forms organically over time as members of the organization work together. Inorganically attempting to mandate a different culture is an exercise in total futility. If leaders want to see culture change, they need to be the change they want to see. They need to behave when working with others in their organization in the way they want others to behave. Others in the organization will watch and understand that is the way things should be done in the organization – and over time, a consistent culture will take shape. 

Thus, the most powerful driver of culture change in any organization is the interpersonal behavior of the most senior leaders, not their pronouncements.  

Question: What is the secret about strategy that no one tells you? 

Martin: Strategy and planning are entirely different. 

The vast majority of activities referred to as strategy are actually planning. Planning involved creating lists of sensible initiatives. Strategy is the making of an integrated set of choices that positions the organization on a playing field of choice where it can be better than any other organization on that field. 

Strategy is important because lists of sensible initiatives won’t compel customers to take the actions, we wish them to, which is why most plans don’t produce the outcomes that are desired. Our choices need to be designed to compel customer action. Among other things, which will make some initiatives that on their own may appear sensible, are actually a waste of resources.   

Question: In your book, you write that if you feel comfortable with your strategic plan, there’s a strong chance it isn’t very good. Why? 

Martin: The goal of strategy is to compel customer action. But no organization (other than a government monopoly like the Department of Motor Vehicles) can force customers to buy your product/service. So, you can never be comfortable that your strategy will produce what you wish. It requires faith in the set of choices you have made – and that is uncomfortable. 

Planners, on the other hand, tend to believe that that if their choices are sensible, they will automatically produce the results they expect, so they are more comfortable, until such time as their plans fail to compel the customer actions they assumed.   

Question: What is the most important thing you hope readers will take away from your book? 

Martin: Lots of what you have been taught either in formal business education or in the company/industry in which you work are just plain wrong. 

Lots of models that have developed and become dominant over time for thinking about business problems don’t produce the results that the models promise. But very few people question the efficacy of the models, even though they don’t work.

Don’t let your models own you in this way; you need to dump models that don’t work and adopt models that do. To help that, the book covers 14 business models that don’t work and provides 14 replacement models that will work better

A New Way To Think is timely, thought-provoking a book to add to your must-read list this year. 

Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.


Popular posts from this blog

How To Embrace Creative Tensions To Solve Tough Problems

  If you struggle with these paradoxes: How can I express my individuality and be a team player? How do I balance work and life? How can I take care of myself while supporting others? How can I manage the core business while innovating for the future? then the new book, Both/And Thinking , by authors Wendy Smith and Marianne Lewis , is for you. It will teach you how to navigate these types of paradoxes more effectively.   “When making a decision, we often find ourselves stuck between choosing one option over another, creating a vicious cycle that limits our capabilities and creates consistent tension,” explain the authors. “But there is a better way.”   As the book explains, that better way is both/and thinking versus traditional either/or thinking . This new way of thinking means that instead of choosing between alternative poles of paradox, you figure out how to engage both poles simultaneously. In other words, how to accommodate competing demands over time for a m

Effective Listening: Do's And Don'ts

Here are some great tips from Michelle Tillis Lederman's book, The 11 Laws of Likability .  They are all about: what to do and what not to do to be a leader who's an effective listener : Do : Maintain eye contact Limit your talking Focus on the speaker Ask questions Manage your emotions Listen with your eyes and ears Listen for ideas and opportunities Remain open to the conversation Confirm understanding, paraphrase Give nonverbal messages that you are listening (nod, smile) Ignore distractions Don't : Interrupt Show signs of impatience Judge or argue mentally Multitask during a conversation Project your ideas Think about what to say next Have expectations or preconceived ideas Become defensive or assume you are being attacked Use condescending, aggressive, or closed body language Listen with biases or closed to new ideas Jump to conclusions or finish someone's sentences

Tips For Leaders Facing Difficult Decisions

  From the must-read book, Compassionate Leadership , is this recommendation about decision making from authors Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter :  Every time you are faced with a difficult decision you can share the nature and tone of your leadership by asking:  Will this have a positive impact on my colleagues’ genuine happiness and well-being? Will this action inspire others in a positive way? Will I be proud of this in 10 years?  Let compassionate leadership principles guide you.

6 Ways To Seek Feedback To Improve Your Performance In The Workplace

Getting feedback is an important way to improve performance at work. But sometimes, it can be hard to seek out, and even harder to hear.  “Feedback is all around you. Your job is to find it, both through asking directly and observing it,” says David L. Van Rooy, author of the new book,  Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be . As today's guest post, Van Rooy offers these  six tips for how to get the feedback you need to improve performance at work . Guest Post By David L. Van Rooy 1.       Don’t forget to as k :  One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming things are going perfectly (until they make a catastrophic mistake). By not asking, you’re missing out on opportunities for deep feedback: the difficult, critical feedback that gives you constructive ways to improve. 2.       Make sure you listen :  Remember, getting feedback is about improving your performance, not turning it into a “you versus the

How To Incorporate Equity Into Your Workplace

Equity ,  the book by  Minal Bopaiah , is a timely guide to help leaders create more inclusive organizations using human-centered design and behavior change principles. The book is based on research and provides engaging, real-world examples for taking impactful next steps. Most important, Bopaiah explains that  equity is different from equality .   She shares, “ equality  is when everyone has the same thing.  Equity  is when everyone has what they need to thrive and participate fully. Equity does not fault people for being different; it makes room for difference and then leverages it.”   In short:   Equality  = The state of being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities. Equity  = A state of fairness and equal access to opportunity that recognizes that people have different needs.   Equity allows leaders to create organizations where employees can contribute their unique strengths and collaborate better with peers.  Equity in the workplace explains Bopaiah, “is about desi

Sample Of Solid Business Guiding Principles

I really like these  10 guiding business principles  that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company  USAA has lived by: Exceed customer expectations Live the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect) Be a leader Participate and contribute Pursue excellence Work as a team Share knowledge Keep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together) Listen and communicate Have fun Too many companies don't make it simple for their customers to do business with them. Is it easy for your customers to: Buy from you? Make returns? Get pricing and terms? Receive timely responses to their e-mails? Quickly get answers when phoning your company? You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book,  1001 Ways To Energize Employee s .

How To Lead With Heart

  Those who lead with heart consistently have discussions with their teams about their unexpressed needs, fears, desires, gifts, and sense of purpose , explain the authors of the timely and compelling new book, Leading With Heart .   CEO coaches and authors John Baird and Edward Sullivan share that anyone can learn how to make an authentic connection with their teams in order to drive better outcomes. And their book provides readers clear and practical insights to help them succeed in making those connections. Be sure to read the highlighted key principles and takeaways at the end of every chapter.   Baird and Sullivan further share that since 2020, over 40 million Americans have left their jobs. Feeling disrespected was cited by 57% of those who left as the reason. Workers today want to feel seen and appreciated for who they are. That’s why companies with the best retention, morale, and productivity are led by leaders with heart.   As Alexander Den Heijer said, “ When a

Flashback: Best New Leadership Book Of 2021

    Today, we flashback to 2021 : This time each year, I select my pick for best new leadership book for the year. For 2021, my pick is,  Heart First ,  Lasting Leadership Lessons From A Year That Changed Everything , by  David Grossman , published in July 2021. Written by a wise, award-winning leadership and communications expert, Grossman supplies clear, timely, critical, actionable advice, how-to’s and tips for leaders as the pandemic continues to challenge us...and as we get past the pandemic. I selected this book because the book is easy to read, incredibly engaging, and is filled with inspirational and powerful stories of lessons learned by a wealth of leaders with diverse backgrounds. Plus, it covers today’s pertinent topics for workplace leaders, including diversity, equity, inclusion, and culture.  It’s a playbook you’ll want to read and then refer to time after time. And, if you read only one leadership book next year, make it this one . Reflecting on the past year during the

Inspiring Leadership Quotes

These quotes truly inspire me and hopefully they will inspire you as well : “The three common characteristics of best companies -- they care, they have fun, they have high performance expectations.” -- Brad Hams “The one thing that's common to all successful people: They make a habit of doing things that unsuccessful people don't like to do.” -- Michael Phelps “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." -- Harry S. Truman “The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.” -- Peter Drucker “Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” -- Dwight D. Eisenhower “Good leadership isn't about advancing yourself.  It's about advancing your team.” -- John C. Maxwell "People buy into the leader, then the vision.” -- John C. Maxwell “Great leaders have courage, tenacity and patience.” -- Bill McBean "Pe