KingChapman Blog

Why the Launch is Critical in Launching Breakthrough Projects

Posted by Bob Chapman on Oct 17, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Breakthrough Projects are designed to achieve breakthroughs or a step level change in performance. A breakthrough leads to results that otherwise were not going to happen. A breakthrough requires a fundamental change, rather than simply working harder. Further, the change introduced to produce the result will also make this new level of performance sustainable over time. Launching breakthrough projects are a proven method for achieving breakthroughs, and are an essential element in organizational transformation. These projects interrupt the existing mindset and processes in order to produce breakthroughs.

While there are many elements which contribute to success of breakthrough projects, the most important is the launch. The launch involves setting up the team to be successful, and then starting it off in an empowering manner. Conversely, when teams that are operating falter, the predictable cause is some matter that was not addressed during set-up and launch.

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Leadership Lessons Learned from Hurricane Harvey

Posted by Larry Hoelscher on Sep 26, 2017 2:46:55 PM

“I am here to help you. What do you need?”, offered Becca.

True leadership is shown in the spontaneous actions of people to their circumstances. When people are inspired to make a difference, they become leaders and inspire others to take extraordinary actions. In this case, it was a generous woman reaching out to support families who could never repay the gifts that they were given. Further, the leaders in this case were inspirational and were never acknowledged for their contribution. Lastly, the evidence of inspired leadership was the amazing response of other people and organizations joining in to help. There were some important leadership lessons learned from the tragedy wrought by Hurrican Harvey.

This past Saturday evening, I had the chance to join some friends over dinner. All of the dinner guests were very fortunate in that none of us suffered any losses from Hurricane Harvey, which dumped up to 50” of rain on the Houston area in less than a week, producing unbelievable flooding all around our great city. But one person in our party – Becca – shared an amazing story about a neighborhood not far from her home that didn’t escape the flooding.

I want to repeat her story, because I found it so inspiring as I realized that her experience demonstrates the kind of true leadership that my partners and I are always attempting to foster with our clients.

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Topics: Strategic Execution

Breakthroughs in Business Development of Professional Service Firms

Posted by Larry Hoelscher on Sep 19, 2017 11:33:13 AM

Professional service firms (PSF) are an extremely important sector in western economies due to the unique contribution made to client’s businesses. Lees, Aquilla and Klyhn write:

Whether the influence comes through strategic advice, legal opinion, transaction origination and support, tax minimization, or an audit opinion, every business we know is reliant, in some form, on the opinion of a professional service firm. In addition, and at least as important given the move away from self-regulation, there is the critical regulatory role of the accountants and lawyers tasked with ensuring the probity of the world’s financial markets. All of which makes the task of ensuring that each of the firms is a role model of its profession’s expertise, values and ethics absolutely key.

The leadership of PSF’s comes from the managing partner (MP). Most MP’s are professionals whose career progression was marked with technical excellence and expertise. Most have had little background or training in leadership and management of large, complex organizations. Lees, describe this situation:

And yet, every managing partner we know admitted that they took on the role without any real understanding of what the role entailed and without being sure if they had the capabilities to do it effectively. They also described how the typical high need for achievement culture within professional service firms, with its intolerance of perceived failure, made it almost impossible for them to ask for help when they needed it and for their colleagues to offer it.

This lack of preparation is clearly present in rapid growth for a part of a practice which has been in decline for several years. Creating breakthroughs as part of executing a growth strategy is a foreign concept for most PSF partners. It was just such a setting into which KingChapman was hired.

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Breakdowns Are Roads To Organizational Breakthroughs

Posted by Bob Chapman on Sep 12, 2017 8:03:00 AM

Businesses exist to create value. Sustaining value creation usually involves substantial growth. Substantial growth is easy when the markets in which the business compete are growing, as “rising waters lift all boats”. Most businesses, however, cannot count on “rising waters” to deliver growth. Instead, they require creativity, leadership, innovation and dogged determination. In addition, they often require breakthroughs and changing organizational context.

At KingChapman, we have refined application of Breakthrough Technology over the past three decades. This approach, when deployed by leaders, has reliably produced organizational breakthroughs and improved performance.

Integral to achieving breakthroughs is effective use of breakdowns. The Breakdown Methodology is based on an invented conversation to explore what are perceived to be interruptions to desired performance and paths. These conversations identify dynamics and factors which were previously unnoticed, and hold the key to breakthroughs.

Let's discuss the importance of breakdowns, as well as the breakdown methodology.

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Creating Organizational Transformation With Breakthrough Projects

Posted by Bob Chapman on Aug 24, 2017 9:12:00 AM

Sustainable value creation in a business requires growth. Growth requires change. Substantial, sustainable growth requires transformative change. That’s well known. What’s not so well know is how to achieve transformative changes. That is the hard part, which requires leadership and breakthroughs. KingChapman has long assisted leaders design and execute breakthroughs in their organizations.

An obvious first question is what is a breakthrough? A breakthrough is step level change in an organizations level of performance. A breakthrough leads to results that otherwise were not going to happen. A breakthrough requires a fundamental change, rather than simply working harder. Further, the change introduced to produce the result will also make this new level of performance sustainable over time. This extraordinary result is achieved through intentional actions in the business, including transforming the organization’s orientation to be more externally focused.

KingChapman has found the best approach to achieving breakthrough results is through Breakthrough Projects. We have used Breakthrough Projects in many different industries around the globe. The consistent theme in Breakthrough Projects is:

  • Strong leadership from managers
  • Commitment to achieving results beyond the currently level of knowledge and practice
  • Teams that are empowered to find ways to achieve these breakthroughs
  • Commitment to sustain the breakthroughs and introduce into ongoing operations in performance beyond what is currently being produced
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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Six Emerging Priorities For Leading Through Complexity

Posted by Dr. Robert Hausmann on Jul 26, 2017 6:12:00 AM

Can you identify the drivers of complexity in your organization? Are you able to diagnose the level of uncertainty in your environment? Can you assess a given situation’s complexity and use a framework for choosing an appropriate course of action?

The ever-increasing complexity facing organizations demands that leaders improve performance outcomes for their organizations. This is especially true for those working in unforgiving social, political and regulatory environments, which are rich with complexity and where the scale of consequences can be catastrophic. In addition, cognitive biases interfere with accurate perception of a circumstance and prevent the person from attending to additional incoming data. Further, it is very hard for the person whose perceptions and judgements are compromised to see it until long after the fact. 

Leading through complexity requires leaders to possess impeccable awareness of their behavior and of how others interpret it. As leaders, we need to create actions that allow our people to quickly diagnose their level of complexity and respond accordingly. The following six principles are emerging as priorities for leading in a complex world.  

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Does Your Business Strategy Execution Resemble A Sea Monster?

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jul 18, 2017 4:24:02 PM

British Columbia is one of the most beautiful regions in North America. Most think of Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler Mountain as the high points of British Columbia. Truly each of these locations is spectacular. Kelowna is one area to add to this list of amazing places in BC. This town with a native Indian name sits in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan Valley excels as a region for agricultural and wine. It also sits at the base of a spectacular Okanagan Lake. This deep, clear lake is breathtakingly beautiful. It also is home to the mythical sea monster, Ogopogo.

Ogopogo is described as a 40-50-foot sea monster. It has reportedly been seen by First Nations people since the nineteenth century. Another sighting reportedly happens in the 1920’s and the 1970’s. The Okanagan Lake is home to forests, logging camps and saw mills. Given the industry, many have assumed that these sightings are actually large logs floating in the lake. Who knows? Maybe there is a sea monster actually living in the lake. Regardless of the “facts”, telling the story of Ogopogo continues to this day. The retelling of the story seems to make it “more real”. One way people from this area interact with strangers is to ask if they have seen Ogopogo? It’s a good conversation starter, and ultimately a source of good humor.

Ogopogo & Business Strategy Execution

The phenomenon of Ogopogo often applies to how employees think about strategies in their organizations. That is, many people speak about their organization’s strategies as if it is a myth. Try asking people in an organization if they know their organization’s strategies. They will say that they have heard stories that it might exist, but have not actually experienced anything to prove it is real.

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Topics: Strategic Execution

3 Questions About Leadership Commitment to Change

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jun 20, 2017 7:18:00 AM

A common misconception in business is that management and leadership are the same. They are not. The impact and roles of leadership and management are quite different. Leadership is essential for companies who need to grow and create value beyond the levels given by the market. That is, to make things happen which were not already going to happen. If a business has all the growth and value creation it needs, then leadership commitment is not important. Of course, that describes few if any businesses today.

If you want to expand the importance of leadership in your organization, it is useful to determine what the term leadership means to people in your organization. Many do not have a good understanding of leadership and management, as well as why there is a distinction between the two. Many consider the two terms to be interchangeable, that is to be describing the same capabilities. Some will differentiate leaders from managers based on position in the organization. Senior managers are considered to be leaders since they have greater responsibilities.

Leadership is needed in order to produce the “elements of inspiration, vision and human passion which drive corporate success”. In case you think this description is from a recent work, that phase was written in 1977 in a groundbreaking article in the Harvard Business Review. Leaders create the environment which promotes others to excel.

The confusion about differences in leadership and management is harmful to organizations. It serves to diminish the importance of leaders, often in the organizations which most need powerful leaders. Further it reduces the emphasis placed on development of leadership, which only makes the matter worse.

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Topics: Strategic Execution

Charters Are an Essential Tool in Post-Acquisition Integration Success

Posted by Bob Chapman on Jun 7, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Seventy percent (70%) of change efforts fail to deliver the expected results, according to Changing Change Management in the July 2015 issue of McKinsey Quarterly. The low success rate is attributed in part to the limited scope of most change management techniques, which focus on control and minimizing distractions. Change management is appropriate for small, contained changes such as updating the software in an accounting department. It is not appropriate for change efforts as complicated as post-acquisition integrations, in which case change leadership techniques are required. John Kotter describes the differences in change management and change leadership as:

Change management, which is the term most everyone uses, refers to a set of basic tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control. The goal is often to minimize the distractions and impacts of the change. Change leadership, on the other hand, concerns the driving forces, visions and processes that fuel large-scale transformation.

Post-acquisition integration is a complicated form of strategic execution that requires breakthrough designs and unique organizational accountability during implementation. We think that organizing the integration as a series of well-orchestrated breakthrough projects is the optimal means of:

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs, Mergers & Acquisitions

Empowering Accountability Occurs in Action

Posted by Bob Chapman on May 24, 2017 3:31:45 PM

Empowering Accountability first and foremost occurs in the overt actions of leaders, such as communication. Other equally important actions include quality of strategic thinking, planning, design of strategic initiatives, sustaining execution during hard times, learning from experiences, and sustaining momentum until desired results are achieved. All of these actions are part of what is required to be a leader in a complex world.

Often, I am asked, “How can I see accountability in my organization”? The answer to seeing actual accountability in your organization is watching the action. That is, the manifestation of accountability is action. Actions shine a bright light on executives and managers being accountable, or the lack thereof. The effectiveness of your organization is determined by the degree to which your leaders hold themselves to account for their actions, communications, and results.

Executives must act from being accountable for all the results, not just the ones they like or those that make them look good. Leaders' actions must include communication about decisions made and intended results from these decisions and actions. Employees pay very close attention to executives’ and managers’ actions and non-actions, what is talked about and what is ignored, what is rewarded and punished, and the support given for those in the organization who step out and try to lead.

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Topics: Leadership Accountability