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Create a Dynamic Strategic Plan that Engages the Enterprise

Having a strategic plan is a vital aspect of any successful organization. Unfortunately, most organizations have strategic plans that are really financial plans in disguise.

Profits are only one element of a strategic plan. You need a plan that outlines what you’re going to do to differentiate yourself from your competitors and one that details your innovation strategies. Those key elements are often missing in a financially focused strategic plan.

Thorough strategic planning also looks at how you gain new competitive advantages and other broader concepts that accelerate growth beyond a financially focused plan. Therefore, your strategic planning needs to be a mix of financial planning, strategy-focused planning, long-range planning using research to determine future positions, and tactical planning to determine your execution strategies.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” That saying is true for companies today, which is why having a strategic plan is essential. It’s important to build change into the plan and have the ability to adapt it in real time.

Dynamic versus Static Planning

These days, a traditional static plan is less desirable and less effective than a dynamic plan. The difference is a static plan is a document that is published, shared with key employees, and then filed away. A dynamic plan goes beyond one-way informing and communicates the plan in a two-way, ongoing dialogue to everyone in the enterprise. It’s a living, breathing, and evolving entity engaging everyone. In short:

  • A dynamic strategic plan is a two-way dialogue that communicates with the company leaders and the employees.
  • A dynamic strategic plan reaches beyond the company walls and goes out to strategic partners.
  • A dynamic strategic plan is continually refined and improved by eliciting dialogue and input from others.

These three points are crucial; with a typical static strategic plan, people may not have time to read it or agree with it, so they may not take action. If they find major flaws in the plan, there is no means to provide risk-free feedback.

A dynamic strategic plan allows communication with people and encourages feedback. You’re not telling people the plan; you’re showing them the plan and asking for their help with identifying foreseeable challenges, solving problems before they occur.

Here are some hallmarks of a dynamic strategic plan:

  • Break it down. Long lists are rarely completed. It’s important to highlight and break down the plan into its basic elemental strategic imperatives so everyone identifies with them. If these go unknown, they won’t be accomplished. Allow the plan to stay top of mind. When it’s top of mind every day, people will know what the strategic imperatives are and are more likely to attain them.
  • Tell stories. Bring the words of your company’s strategic plan to life by making it visual. If you’ve never seen the visual of what E=mc2 means, then you still don’t understand Einstein’s theory of relativity. However, those who see it in a visual format understand it. A strategic plan can be complex and just as hard to understand, so some companies create an infographic that depicts the plan, printing it on a banner and hanging it in a main gathering area as a visual reminder of the plan.
  • Go multimedia. While your dynamic strategic plan could be a document, it could also be a video that people watch or an interactive game they play. Some people prefer to watch a video, while others prefer to play an interactive game. The people who prefer to watch the video wonder why anyone would play a game, and those who prefer to play a game wonder why anyone would sit through a video. Since we all learn in different ways, it only makes sense to put the strategic plan in various formats.
  • Get social. Social media is an ideal way to make a strategic plan dynamic. The key word to remember is “social.” It’s about creating engagement and involvement. For example, as employees execute the plan, you can create Instagram stories using pictures of success, accomplishments, and roadblocks in an effort to gain feedback and ideas. Additionally, you can be using internal online collaborative tools to work with the different groups executing the plan so help can be provided if need be. A dynamic strategic plan breaks down barriers and gets everyone headed in the same direction.

Gain Engagement

Today, truly successful and innovative companies have a dynamic strategic plan in motion. They have a document that can be added to and refined with graphics, video, and interactive media. They have something that’s moving.

Leaders need to engage people with their plans rather than inform them of their plans.

With the rapid pace of change, the traditional static planning system is a dinosaur. Now is the time to redefine what a strategic plan is supposed to be—dynamic.

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Best Practices Growth Industries Management Skills

Cognitive Excellence Is The New Benchmark of Business Performance

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

Today, business performance is measured by transactional throughput and is commonly captured in a set of transactional metrics such as revenue, investor ROI, manufacturing capacity, service level performance, available to promise, etc. Commonly, the operations of a business are defined as the transactional activity. Yet, the definition of a business operation encompasses both its transactional operations and its cognitive operations. To break through current ceilings of business performance, the processes in both the transactional operations and the cognitive operations must execute with excellence.

Transactional Operations of an Organization

Commerce activities represent the transactional operations. Professionals are involved in planning and management of tasks to execute customer, supplier and employee transactions. Task-oriented processes occur before, during and after the customer journey. ERP, SCM and CRM software helps professionals responsible for transaction management execute transactional operating processes.

Examples of Transactional Responsibilities

  • Manage sales transactions
  • Manage marketing campaigns
  • Procure products and services
  • Fulfill orders
  • Capture accounting activity
  • Schedule materials
  • Manage inventory turns
  • Plan for distribution
  • Forecast financial performance
  • Service customers
  • Manage human resources
  • Compensate employees

Executives have invested significantly to evolve the processes on the transactional side of their businesses.

Cognitive Operations of an Organization

The cognitive operations comprise teams that think and communicate perspectives for a living. These teams are internal and external to the organization:

  • Senior executives, senior managers and other professionals
  • Management consultants, board members, lenders and insurance providers in the services ecosystem
  • Investors, analysts, supply chain partners and business partners, who are part of the extended enterprise
  • Regulators and educational institutions, who are standard setters

In a cognitive operations, professionals think critically, collaborate, communicate with their stakeholders, make decisions, advise other professionals and monitor uncertainties. As professionals perform mindful work, they often experience gaps in their knowledge that lead to uncertainties. Uncertainties stall decisions. Cognitive processes represent the work that takes place in their minds.

Cognitive operations exist across industries, such as oil and gas, life sciences, private equity, management consulting, environmental management, asset management, space, insurance, banking, aerospace, defense, healthcare, government and education, etc. Below are some examples where critical thinking, stakeholder communications and performance advisory occur in life sciences for their cognitive work:

Examples of Cognitive Responsibilities in Pharma

Chief Medical Officer

  • Develop corporate strategy
  • Brainstorm with clinical key opinion leaders around clinical challenges
  • Create quality control measures for clinical trials
  • Ensure performance among clinical and regulatory teams
  • Collaborate with health authorities
  • Communicate with regulatory authorities
  • Perform due diligence research on business development opportunities
  • Monitor investment in clinical programs

Chief of Staff

  • Improve processes to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness
  • Identify Hard Trends to strengthen the accuracy of forecasts
  • Prepare CEO for stakeholder meetings
  • Ensure innovative qualitative and quantitative measurements

VP, Drug Process Development

  • Apply anticipatory thinking and new tools to transform processes
  • Demonstrate process reliability
  • Verify process effectiveness
  • Build process control strategy

VP, Drug Manufacturing Process

  • Ensure a stable design environment
  • Assess drug degradation
  • Link material attributes and process parameters to CQAs
  • Demonstrate linkages between process and product reliability
  • Track outcomes for each changing state
  • Establish feedforward and feedback controls
  • Anticipate and monitor failure conditions

VP, Corporate Development

  • Craft risk-managed pricing
  • Evaluate portfolio implications
  • Analyze integrated due diligence

VP, Supply Chain

  • Use new tools to transform supply chain processes
  • Communicate supply chain risks and opportunities
  • Simulate implications of a supplier failure

Professionals in the cognitive operations either accelerate or constrain their cognitive performance based on their mind-set and the technologies they use for their mind’s work.

Professionals in the transactional operations benefit from software architectures for their responsibilities. Yet professionals in the cognitive operations don’t have the same capabilities to perform their jobs. Rather, they have their job descriptions, their experiences and their minds; they utilize multipurpose software in the form of spreadsheets, presentation software and word processing documents. Leaders and managers do not have a software architecture designed to elevate their cognitive responsibilities. Nor do they have a way to think through their uncertainties in a Socratic manner. These issues are critical for a cognitive operation to advance and gain a competitive advantage.

In working across organizations for decades, we’ve seen a theme in which leaders and managers who seldom take enough time to think through uncertainties the first time around is high. Yet there seems to be enough time to revisit the topics a second time as problems arise. Beyond time pressures, confusion persists around how to think through uncertainties. The lack of clarity regarding how to manage uncertainty has led leaders and managers to spend more time managing the crisis and less time managing new opportunities. By learning to identify the Hard Trend certainties that will happen, anticipatory leaders learn to innovate with low risk and have the confidence certainty provides to make bold moves.

What is Cognitive Excellence?

Anticipatory leaders and managers exhibit cognitive excellence through a constant flow of insights and foresights that resolve uncertainties. These professionals become a critical resource to highly effective cognitive operations. They are go-to professionals, whether they exist in an organization, in the services ecosystem or as part of the extended enterprise. Organizations need to instill these anticipatory capabilities in their professionals to achieve greater business performance.

“Past performance is not a predictor of future results.”

This performance caveat is attached to any investment in the stock market, and it applies in business too. Future performance is dependent on anticipatory skills and cognitive excellence. Professionals face change all the time. Some say change is the only constant; in fact, it’s accelerating at an exponential rate, which creates additional uncertainties as well as new certainties! It’s challenging to achieve cognitive excellence in the minds of professionals consistently today without anticipatory skills and software that:

  • Define the cognitive gaps
  • Illustrate aberrations in future performance through measurable evidence
  • Trigger questions of uncertainty in your mind
  • Move you from uncertainty to greater certainty

That’s why cognitive excellence doesn’t just come from experience. It comes from advancing the capabilities of professionals with:

  • Anticipatory leadership skills
  • A responsibility architecture for their cognitive work
  • An agile and anticipatory mental framework to help them address change across situations
  • Software spaces to perform their mind’s work

The ability to nimbly address questions of uncertainty through a repeatable Socratic process greatly enhances leaders’ and managers’ capabilities to perform at a very high level as key contributors to their organizations and their clients’ organizations. This is how professionals can transform the performance of their businesses.

As professional teams elevate their cognitive capabilities toward excellence, their organizations transform into highly performant cognitive factories. Professional teams leverage each other’s thinking through a uniform process to visualize performance patterns for their minds, where they gain insights and foresights. Anticipatory professionals not only pre-experience their own uncertainties, they also help their stakeholders pre-solve their questions of uncertainty, too.

The cognitive era is shaping the coexistence and interdependence between humans and machines. This new era demands leaders to advance the capabilities of their cognitive processes. As machines learn, humans must focus their time and attention in areas where machines are far less effective. Professionals need to redefine and reinvent their business models, markets, products, services and processes to provide the next level of value for their clients. Anticipatory leaders and managers need to focus their time on the layers of both uncertainty and certainty where future state thinking is needed and reassign current state thinking to others. That’s how they’ll continue to differentiate their personal and business brands. Professionals need to accelerate their learning and get comfortable with uncertainty through the use of higher certainty frameworks. It’s imperative for organizations to get on board with elevating their cognitive performance. Waiting will cost organizations the value of cognitive insights and foresights, while your competitors grow their knowledge.

Machine learning is causing a shift in the workforce — an emerging crowd of retrained professionals whose jobs are increasingly occupied by machines. This requires cognitive professionals in their current roles to manage the knowledge gap between themselves and their new human rivals. They accomplish this by advancing their cognitive skill sets, learning to become anticipatory leaders and through the use of technologies built the way they think about uncertainties.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

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Best Practices Growth Management Skills Technology

Turn Cognitive Challenges into Opportunities With Technology Built the Way You Think

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

Technology can function as a key enabler for higher cognitive performance. Technology is as important for cognitive roles as it is for transactional ones, since cognitive work in organizations drives transactional tasks. With performance gains realized through transaction management software, the next game changer is to evolve the cognitive infrastructure in the operating model.

While machines learn, disrupt and occupy the defined and known cognitive tasks of humans across industries, technologies to advance cognitive performance in the mind and with teams have remained relatively stagnant to move uncertainties into higher certainty frameworks.

Professionals utilize many technologies in their cognitive work everyday, but were not built to advance their cognitive performance. These every day technologies include:

  • spreadsheets
  • presentation software
  • documents

The Tools Leaders use for Critical Thinking in your Organization Today

All too often, critical thinking runs through spreadsheets. You may be surprised to discover the collage of spreadsheets your enterprise utilizes in its operating model — hundreds and thousands of spreadsheets (depending on the size of your business).

With spreadsheets, it’s challenging to arrive at informed decisions with 85%+ effectiveness. It’s also challenging to manage future uncertainties with 50%+ effectiveness.

How Leaders Communicate with Stakeholders in your Organization Today

Beyond their voices, leaders and managers communicate with stakeholders primarily through multipurpose presentation software. A tremendous amount of time, money and effort is expended to build presentations as snapshots in time for stakeholders. Presentations to equity investors, lenders, internal management, operations teams and supply chain partners, among many others, do not provide a framework for dynamic communications that shape the thinking in the minds of your stakeholders. Their questions are all too often unresolved during meetings, which delay decisions. When additional meetings are scheduled, you resolve the initial questions from stakeholders without a clear understanding of the impact on outcomes.

Presentation software makes it challenging to communicate perspective and address stakeholder concerns in real time with 90% effectiveness.

How Stakeholder Expectations are Conveyed in your Organization Today

Professionals primarily express their expectations verbally. They also write them in reference documents that are accessed infrequently, such as job descriptions, performance reviews, supplier agreements and annual reports, to name a few.

As documents are not actionable frameworks, it’s challenging to achieve expectations in dependent thinking with 85%+ effectiveness.

Imagine if the Stock Market Operated the Way Business Operates Today

The stock graph transforms how you synthesize information in your mind to arrive at informed decisions. Let’s go back to the time when you couldn’t visualize stock graphs for your decisions. Before stock graphs existed, imagine you met with your wealth advisor who expected you to make decisions to invest your monies and said:

I’m glad you are interested in investing in the market. We have over 10,000 companies in our exchange. To help you make an informed decision, I’ll introduce you to the analysts; there are hundreds of them. Each of them will show you their spreadsheets. Then each will walk you through your options via presentations, while attempting to answer all your questions. I thought you’d want to know this will take time because the analysts structure their spreadsheets their own way; there isn’t any consistency between them. Nor is there consistency among their presentations. After you synthesize all this information in your mind, you should be in a position to arrive at an informed decision about how to best invest your monies.

If decision processes for investors worked that way, individuals could not make high-fidelity decisions effectively. They’d be attending a lot of meetings to gain insight. As a result, many stocks wouldn’t have performed as well and many portfolios wouldn’t have grown. Nor would have the market evolved as it has.

Yet this is Exactly How Decision Processes in Business Work Today

As executives continue to invest in their transactional operations over decades, it’s time they prioritize and invest in their cognitive operations. The technology in the transactional operations is far ahead of the technology in the cognitive operations. Yet the cognitive operations drive activity in the transactional operations.

Is ‘Being Human’ Enough Today in the Cognitive Era?

Historic methods to advance critical thinking and stakeholder communications using human mental models, past experiences, personal networks and fundamental analytics are no longer enough in today’s business world. As machines increasingly coexist with humans, anticipatory tools and advanced performance analytics are needed to survive, differentiate and grow businesses and their professionals.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Leader System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

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Best Practices Growth Management Skills Technology

Elevate Cognitive Performance

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

Improving cognitive performance is a strategic imperative for anticipatory leaders. With the availability of data, cognitive technology and performance analytics, stakeholders expect stronger performance, higher transparency, greater controls and clearer communications.

Performance Analytics for Cognitive Work

The transactional operations of an organization have demonstrated how people, process, technology, information and analytics can transform their processes and improve performance before, during and after a customer transaction. A key area that is ripe for improvement is the cognitive operations of an organization where the same principles involving the mind, cognitive processes, cognitive performance technology and performance analytics can transform critical thinking and stakeholder communications.

Cognitive Performance Rings

Business professionals are similar to athletes. Both groups seek to achieve greatness from their actions and get to the top of their game. LeBron James in the NBA, Serena Williams in tennis and Usain Bolt in running at the Olympic Games are all recognized for their individual achievements and team play. They didn’t just arrive. They work every day to close their own performance rings on their journey to greater precision in their craft. The same is possible for professionals. They need to not only outthink their competitors, they need to outperform themselves because they know their last performance is their last impression. Their performance is their memorable stamp on their organization and their industry.

Cognitive performance rings illustrate current and expected effectiveness in cognitive performance.

The activities performed in the minds of critical thinkers, decision makers and stakeholders are represented through cognitive performance rings in the eight performance indicators of cognitive effectiveness below.

From decades of experiences, we recognized the effectiveness of cognitive work across a wide variety of professionals in business, which are shown in the cognitive performance rings below.  Each performance ring illustrates indicators for the common ranges of current effectiveness along with their expected effectiveness.

When reviewing each performance ring, think about where your teams stand with respect to their cognitive effectiveness. Then prioritize which performance rings are important to you and your organization at this time to help it learn, grow and compete more effectively.

Eight Performance Indicators of Cognitive Effectiveness

How well is your team doing?

Performance indicator 1 — Critical Thinking

How well does your team think critically about risks and benefits?
‘Most people believe their minds lead them down a logical path. Yet, we don’t have a way to challenge the way we think in the moment.

Performance indicator 2 — Stakeholder Communications

How well does your team advance decisions with stakeholders?
‘Our stakeholders increasingly need evidence in a structured way that supports their perspectives and their questions. We don’t have a structured operating process to bring stakeholders into the decision making process easily.’

Performance indicator 3 — Cognitive Collaboration

How well does your team achieve breakthroughs during collaboration?
‘In our meetings, we can’t visualize what’s in each other’s heads. Our current processes don’t provide us a way to arrive at insights and foresights with the amount of time we have together. Frankly, it’s a challenge during this time of expected innovation.’

Performance indicator 4 — Decision Execution

How well does your team execute decisions with foresight?
‘We over rely on our gut instincts. We learn from hindsight. It’s concerning to us because change is no longer constant. It’s accelerating. We need a way to become more anticipatory.’

Performance indicator 5 — Performance Conditions

How well does your team establish upper and lower thresholds for thinking and communications?
‘We don’t share thresholds enough. When we do, we share thresholds verbally and in documents. The only way we shape the cognitive behaviors across our teams is through our review processes by management. This approach affects our culture and we don’t know how to address it.’

Performance indicator 6 — Performance Compliance

How well does your team incorporate performance conditions during thinking and communications?
‘The goals and objectives of our stakeholders aren’t transparent for our team. When we do receive them, we incorporate conditions we remember. We need a systematized way to incorporate conditions into our cognitive work.’

Performance indicator 7 — Uncertainty Monitoring

How well does your team anticipate disruption?
‘We don’t anticipate disruption enough. We are susceptible to external forces as we don’t monitor indicators that can disrupt our business.’

Performance indicator 8 — Performance Advisory

How well does your team strengthen the performance of other teams?
‘We try to lead from experience. Yet, we can’t dedicate the amount of time necessary to accelerate the growth of each individual. We need to provide a way to help them self-learn and deepen their intelligence even more. That would help all of us.’

The performance yield of each ring begins with questions of uncertainty that span outcomes, impact, risk, opportunity, implications, consequences, causation or cause and effect. Performance yields arise from insights and strategic foresights in the minds of professionals. With dashboards presented the way their minds work, professionals lean in and think more deeply about situations. As they access correlated data at the speed of thought, they create performance analytics that challenge the way they think about their current situations. When they visualize indicators and patterns within dashboards about the current and target states of their subject profiles, they work in a software environment to engage their thinking, create their ah-ha moments and generate counterintuitive wisdom.

Tom Brady was selected 199th in the NFL draft by the New England Patriots and became the most decorated quarterback in history. All professionals have an opportunity for greatness. Beyond the physical game, it starts with their cognitive tools.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

Digital transformation has divided us all into two camps: the disruptor and the disrupted. The Anticipatory Organization gives you the tools you need to see disruption before it happens, allowing you to turn change into advantage. Pick up a copy today at www.TheAOBook.com.

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Best Practices Growth Industries Management Skills Technology

Eliminate Cognitive Friction to Maximize Human Performance

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

Improving cognitive performance is a strategic imperative for anticipatory leaders. Yet, cognitive performance slows down due to cognitive friction. Cognitive friction occurs when professionals can’t think through uncertainties clearly in their minds. These uncertainties include:

  1. Risks
  2. Opportunities
  3. Outcomes
  4. Consequences
  5. Implications
  6. Impact
  7. Causations
  8. Causes and effects

In an organization, cognitive friction occurs frequently across many professional roles, minds and perspectives. For the 15 areas in a cognitive operation below, cognitive friction not only spans many responsibilities, it also impacts relationships and shapes cultures.

15 Areas of a Cognitive Operation

Cognitive Friction Across Perspectives

Cognitive friction occurs when two or more professionals are challenged to get on the same page. They must resolve their perspectives — which can be very challenging. In business, professionals:

  • Perform critical thinking
  • Make decisions
  • Communicate with stakeholders
  • Collaborate with other professionals
  • React to uncertainties
  • Work with peers and stakeholders to address situational challenges
  • Advise other professionals about their cognitive work
  • Evaluate the thoroughness to think through situations in the minds of their thinkers
  • Review the risk-reward trade-offs among their team members

Cognitive Friction Within the Mind of a Professional

Cognitive friction exists within the minds of professionals and creates undue stress. The six reasons friction occurs is due to:

  1. The processing limitations in the mind
  2. Ineffective communications
  3. Unproductive collaborations
  4. Uncertainties in their minds
  5. Lack of cognitive insights and foresights
  6. Bias that leads to cognitive divisiveness


Processing Limitations in the Mind

When processing multiple data points in the mind, cognitive work can become a highly stressful activity. It’s amazing how many leaders are not equipped with cognitive tools to manage uncertainty across situations, close their knowledge gaps and achieve expected results. When a situation includes more than seven variables, it’s well-known that the human mind is not able to process this level of complexity. Think how we receive, process and remember phone numbers. Our minds are not wired to synthesize 10 or more digits at a time. In the U.S., people think about the 10 digits in a pattern of a 3-digit area code, a 3-digit prefix and 4-digits for the line number; our minds consume, process and recall smaller chunks of information.

Try this exercise in your mind to see how complexity increases quickly: spin all the digits of five phone numbers in your mind as if the numbers were on a slot machine. Can you keep track of the numbers? Most of us cannot; our minds get overwhelmed right away.

When multiple changing variables exist, that’s the type of stress professionals experience every day in their minds as they perform their risk-reward trade-offs. Without additional cognitive capabilities, leaders turn to their gut as a place to find answers; often, though, the gut isn’t a very good logic engine. Operating risk is introduced when critical thinkers and decision makers do not have access to complementary, cognitive tools to perform their cognitive activities at their best.

Effective Communications Accelerate Buy-in and Decisions

The challenges increase further for critical thinkers and decision makers when they communicate with their stakeholders, peers and dependents to gain agreement about multiple, interdependent variables. These heterogeneous thinkers add new perspectives to the decision process, which increases the complexity.

That’s when members of decision teams communicate from their emotional viewpoints. Decisions stall, lasting impressions impact culture and relationships, and people experience an impasse.

Productive Collaborations are Needed to Achieve Better Outcomes

Google Hangouts, Skype and Zoom represent a step forward in collaboration and reduce travel costs. Yet, as professionals move between face-to-face and online meetings, they still struggle to innovate with breakthrough thinking.

Often, we hear professionals say, “if I could see what’s in the minds of the people I’m working with, that would help me address the challenges I’m aware of, too.” Yet, given human limitations, most professionals can’t bridge that gap effectively. If meetings involved the ability to demonstrate thinking patterns, that would help professionals overcome this human hurdle.

As professionals join meetings, they commonly bring their mental models and biases from years of experience. Their mental models create barriers to synthesizing other people’s perspectives as well as new ways of thinking into their own thinking. Where they use their voices and presentation software to convey their thinking, most attendees try to follow the logic rather than elevate their own thinking. If they had a way to unify their thinking through the visualization of evidence that focused on addressing questions of uncertainty and their critical thoughts, they’d optimize their time, learn to pre-solve issues and focus on better outcomes together. That would advance productivity in thinking in a visual way.

When professionals conclude their meetings with follow-on questions, leaders wonder which questions weren’t brought up? Are their teams going down the wrong paths? How do these questions connect to the stakeholders’ objectives? Are they considering the Hard Trends based on future facts that are shaping the future? Professionals expend valuable time to get to clarity as they reflect on their learnings when they need insights and foresights more quickly. Anticipatory leaders seek to institute advanced collaboration processes that yield greater productivity among their teams. They see everyday innovation and breakthrough thinking as a competitive advantage today as well as tomorrow.

Uncertainties, Cognitive Insights and Foresights

As connected teams in today’s data-driven world, data scientists and stakeholders strive for better outcomes together. Where data scientists focus on big data and use machine learning to ask questions about data, stakeholders focus on decision information and ask questions to solve situational challenges. The minds of stakeholders are as effective as the:

  1. Quality of their questions to resolve their problems and uncertainties
  2. Cognitive insights and foresights that arise from their mental models

Bias and Cognitive Divisiveness

In the minds of professionals, cognitive friction results from their cognitive biases and the synthesis of disparate data. Cognitive divisiveness exists among professionals as data synthesis and bias differ across perspectives. Cognitive friction and divisiveness affect velocity and outcomes.

In their roles, professionals:

  • Are often unable to access data structured the way they think about risk-reward trade-offs
  • Don’t know what they don’t know during decision making
  • Are challenged many times to demonstrate their points of view
  • Are frequently challenged to see alternative points of view during communications
  • Struggle to shape the thinking of team members due to predefined mental models
  • Are challenged to arrive at strategic foresights and engineer outcomes

A Critical Thinking Advantage

To gain an advantage in today’s world, cognitive teams must pre-solve issues through a continuous flow of cognitive insights and foresights. To achieve their objectives, they must find new wisdom within the cognitive gaps in their minds — i.e., to get from “here” to “there.” “Here” is where they are today in context to their cognitive responsibilities. “There” is where they need to go. This cognitive gap represents their current state and target state of their subject profiles. Their stakeholders depend on actionable knowledge and wisdom from their team of thinkers to improve business results. This starts with the capabilities of their cognitive resources and tools.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

Categories
Best Practices Growth Personal Development Technology

A Strategic Imperative for Anticipatory Leaders Is Cognitive Performance

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

AI and cognitive computing have grabbed headlines. Yet, anticipatory leaders know that the elevation of cognitive performance among teams is key to maximize results. Leaders need to help their teams of professionals improve how they envision opportunities, manage downside risks and achieve greater results. Cognitive computing has to do more than deliver data-driven insights to their minds. It must help teams shape outcomes, act on implications and professionalize role-based, cerebral processes in the form of software processes. That’s where cognitive performance is front and center.

Cognitive performance involves how well professionals perform their cognitive work. Specifically, how they:

  • Establish vision
  • Identify problems
  • Ask questions of uncertainty
  • Arrive at critical thoughts
  • Analyze situations
  • Synthesize information
  • Reason
  • Judge
  • Solve problems
  • Communicate
  • Collaborate
  • Define follow-on actions

They perform these cerebral activities with their thoughts and their communications. These mini processes in their minds are nondeterministic and lead to decisions within organizations. As machine learning and deep learning move into organizations, professionals who want to increase their cognitive performance must step up their game at the same time. They must center their attention on addressing uncertainties and advance their abilities to identify and create greater certainty. In doing so, they must raise their levels of quality in decision-making processes and stakeholder communication processes that take place in their minds. Their stakeholders, customers, suppliers, employees and their industries depend on it. The status quo of gut-based decision making and misunderstandings among viewpoints leads to operational inefficiencies and monetary waste in downstream activities.

Change is accelerating in business, which creates more uncertainties that find their way into enterprises across all functional responsibilities — in strategies, integration, operations, supply chains, human resources, research, engineering, finance, process management, product management and consulting, to name a few. Today, cognitive performance is based on role-based experience, learning, frequency, recency and luck — all of which vary from role to role and person to person.

The cognitive activities in the minds of professionals are ripe for optimization. Optimization is possible by learning anticipatory skills and applying cognitive performance technologies.

The human mind is limited when it is engaged to:

  • Structure decision data
  • Process situational information
  • Store organized knowledge
  • Recall situations with specificity
  • Understand alternative viewpoints
  • Engineer outcomes with greater clarity

Although these are human limitations, the mind is extendable through the use of computing, which does a very good job of augmenting the mind for these activities. In today’s era of cognitive computing, the human mind can benefit from a digital extension to achieve the cognitive capabilities it cannot — and does not — realize on its own.

At work, professionals who think for a living formulate how to execute their work in their minds. They’ve built their cognitive expertise over time through on-the-job experiences and homegrown cerebral processes.

Business operations are both transactional and cognitive

Before transactional software systems codified the operating processes of transactional work into the business infrastructure – i.e., ERP, SCM and CRM processes – organizations created homegrown processes and systems to manage their transactional operations. ERP, SCM and CRM systems optimized task-oriented processes before, during and after a customer transaction within organizations, in supply chains and in demand chains. As a result, the transactional side of the operating model has become relatively frictionless.

Today’s friction exists within the minds of professionals on the cognitive side of the operating model. A key to future success is to eliminate this friction. That’s where anticipatory skills, combined with cognitive performance software, comes into play.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

Categories
Best Practices Growth Management Skills Technology

Cognitive Performance — The Human Side of Cognitive Computing

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

As a leader, your responsibilities exist on the cognitive side of your business, where you think critically, make complex decisions, collaborate among your network, communicate with your stakeholders, comply with regulations and monitor uncertainties, to name a few. These activities represent your cognitive work. Given today’s rapid growth in organizations using AI, you are most likely exploring the current state of cognitive computing and how it can help you with your responsibilities beyond the collection, storage and retrieval of data through computers as data appliances. You are also considering how the highly marketed definitions of cognitive computing from IBM Watson can help you?

How cognitive performance computing can help you as a critical thinker in business  

As we meet with leaders in business, management consulting and government around the globe, they, too, are wondering how they can leverage cognitive computing for their work.

These professionals occupy roles in the cognitive operations of their organizations, where there is a constant set of unknowns. Senior executives are responsible for closing their gaps in knowledge about the future state of their businesses. Trusted advisors must do the same for their clients. As standard setters must set guidelines as best practices, regulators create the laws that require cognitive compliance from organizational leaders. The next evolution of cognitive computing addresses their cognitive responsibilities — i.e., helping executives and management consultants work through their risk-reward trade-offs in context to situational context and criteria, while standard setters and regulators build the required thresholds into the thinking of organizational leaders. This segment of cognitive computing is known as cognitive performance. Enhancing cognitive performance improves critical thinking, stakeholder communications, decision making, advisory collaboration, monitoring of uncertainties and cognitive compliance. Cognitive performance software extends the human mind with computing to help humans learn, compete and grow the impact of their own intellects.

Leverage cognitive computing for what your mind can’t do

Where machines continue to learn role-based tasks, it’s necessary for humans to work in harmony with machines to better navigate through areas of complexity and uncertainty. For business to advance, enhancing human performance needs to be a strategic imperative for business executives rather than accepting the status quo. With stronger human performance, culture will transform with faster cognitive insights and foresights to create an environment of deeper human learning. Without higher performance from our minds, we’re all operating the same way — figuring out situations on our own in a sequential order and learning from hindsight. Computers, available data and applying the four pillars of the Anticipatory Model will help us learn with foresight. To compete in industry today, we need cognitive computing to do more for our minds than provide data-driven insights. We need cognitive computing to assist the cerebral processing in our minds, help us gain perspective and put us in a position to make high-fidelity decisions. The human computers on top of our shoulders need turbochargers. As visual learners, wouldn’t it be great if we made our thoughts visual through thinking patterns to make the most of our risk-reward trade-offs! That would change the velocity of decision making and stakeholder communications! To move the needle much further in business requires a focus on the performance of human minds across teams — from senior executives and mid-level managers in business to those in their supply chains, consulting circles, insurance relationships, investor partnerships and professionals across the sciences, among others. Enhancing cognitive performance needs to be a strategic imperative to gain a competitive advantage.

Improve reasoning and judgment

Professionals know they rely on instinct and gut reactions all too often. Their ability to process information in their minds or to understand someone else’s viewpoint is often challenging. It’s a human limitation, and that’s where responsibility-based computing can help. The batting averages of professionals in reasoning and judgment must improve in today’s business world. The cognitive era is the time to break through these limitations and leverage computing to extend the capabilities of our minds.

Digital advancement in cognitive performance

Many teams responsible for operating processes on the transactional side of their businesses are now involved in digital transformation. They are automating their manual activities using AI, question-answering systems, big data and other software. Within the cognitive side of their businesses, the cognitive operating processes are ready to digitally advance as well. Those who spend time prioritizing and enhancing the cognitive performance of their teams will leapfrog their competitors as they will strengthen human performance.

The benefits of exponential advances in computing must now be applied to human performance. There’s a long, bright road ahead for the performance of the human mind. We’re just at the beginning.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

Categories
Best Practices Entrepreneurship Human Resources Management Marketing Negotiations Sales Skills Women In Business

You’re Always Negotiating

“If you seek greater progress in life, negotiate better and greater progress will seek you.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

Right now, you’re creating your future. And, you’ve done so in the past. That’s what created the environment that you’re in, right now.

My motto is, you’re always negotiating. That means, what you’ve done in the past has led to where you are today, and what you do now will lead to where you’ll be tomorrow.

If you’re like most people, you don’t understand how frequently you’re engaged in negotiations throughout the day. When you’re talking to an associate, you’re negotiating. When you engage in a conversation with a client, your superior, your spouse, you’re negotiating. The fact is in those situations, you’re giving insight into your thought process, your beliefs, and how you might engage in different situations. That’s a negotiation.

Why is it important to recognize that you’re always negotiating? The answer is, the more you’re aware of what you say and do, along with how you say and do it, the better you can shape your persona. By shaping how others perceive you, you can become more aligned with the way you wished them to perceive you in the future.

Here’s the point. Always be mindful that your actions are under constant observation and evaluation. To reiterate, that means you’re always negotiating. Negotiations occur in many places, not just at the negotiation table. Every time you engage in actions that detract from your goals, you’re detracting from them through your actions.

Raise your sense of awareness no matter the environment. If you feel the need to ‘let your hair down’, control the degree. Don’t expose too much of yourself by letting your hair expose too much of you. Once you raise your awareness that you’re always negotiating and align your actions with your future goals, you’ll be in a better position to achieve those goals. In so doing, you will have raised your dreams, hopes, and lights that lead to a better future. That will make living life more memorable … and everything will be right with the world.

What does this have to do with negotiations?

When negotiating, even good negotiators lose their cool. They display aspects of their demeanor that belie thoughts that would be better left unexposed; we’re all prone to being off kilter at times. Not so good negotiators fall into a deeper abyss by not recognizing that their self-constraint and reasoning has deserted them. Good negotiators distinguish themselves by regaining their composure quickly. They do so because they focus on their mental agility. They’re aware that they need to spotlight the long-term goal of the negotiation.

Progress never moves in a straight line. If you remember that you’re always negotiating, you’ll be more mindful of when progress has exited that line. Your attentiveness will serve as the alert to get the negotiation back on track.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here http://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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