Is Your Learning & Development On Target?

Competitive advantage, it is something that all companies strive to achieve.  In times past, competitive advantage was static and sustainable when a company achieved a good strategy.  L&D on TargetHowever, the world is different now and competitive advantage is a moving target.  There are risks, uncertainties, and disruptions that have made competitive advantage transient.

A company desiring a competitive advantage these days must have a strategy that evolves based on changing trends and exploits opportunities much more quickly than ever before.  Competitive advantage is linked to how well your human capital adapts and learns within this changing environment.

This new strategic arena can put great pressure on learning and development within an organization to keep leaders and managers abreast of key skills and opportunities to drive innovation amongst the workforce.  Because of that, if you are in the L&D arena, you should be asking yourself:

  • “Does our learning & development strategy keep our organization competitive?”
  • “Do we have the right information to even make that determination?”

Even if you think you have all the right answers, turning to new strategic tools helps identify areas you may not have considered and keeps you staying sharp.

CMOE has created a strategic tool for learning and development managers that will assist you in identifying where you are strategically and help shape the future you are seeking.  Through the use of this strategic blueprint, L&D Managers will be able to look at areas in which they can identify critical initiatives, chart a strategic course, create accountability through implementing assessment measures, and identify and formulate a plan of action.

The blueprint is designed to be a working document, one that is fluid and can develop and evolve with the L&D department, keeping you aware of trends and needs within your stakeholders, creating an opening for you to identify opportunities, threats, and important trends, and innovatively transform your department to stay ahead, competitive, and provide the value added benefits your organization needs to rise to the top.

Taking advantage of this L&D Strategy Blueprint™ is easy, just complete our Contact Us  on the right hand side and make a request in the message column and we will send you a copy for you to start on your path to a competitive edge.  Let CMOE help you pave the way to future success.


Building Workplace Partnerships

A Tradition Lacking In Relationship

Traditionally, managers focused on efficient operations and achieving targets. They gave little consideration for employees’ social, emotional, psychological and life-work balance needs. Employees were given little voice as to how their work would be done. Managers avoided developing relationships beyond what was required to deliver assigned tasks. This was all a part of that top down structure, where managers were expected to already have all the answers. (See “Leaving the Top-Down Model Behind”)

However, due to the changes and challenges in today’s workplace, supervisors can no longer function solely in the role of a traditional manager. In a competitive marketplace, teamwork is proving to be a key employee competency and core corporate characteristic.

The problem is, how do we translate principles of effective teamwork into the context of an employee-supervisor relationship?

Competitive Edge: Teamwork

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-coaching-motivation-success-consulting-illustration-image35224873One way to provide a context for effective teamwork is to turn leaders into coaches. A leader may be focused on unit or personal goals only whereas the coach is other-oriented. A coach is focused on helping others to achieve results that are important to them and the group/team. It entails listening actively, asking powerful questions, helping an individual to obtain new perspectives and options and supporting the individual to find her/his own solutions and answers and being there through the change implementation process. A leader can be a coach but not all leaders are coaches. A leader-coach is able to lead better a team made up of individuals with diverse needs and interests.

While more supportive, coaching still implies a top down relationship, where the manager is expected to have the answers.

Dr. Steve Stowell and the Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness stress that leaders need to go beyond just being a coach. Employees need to be able to contribute their perspectives and ideas into the relationship.

Consequently, for successful teamwork in today’s workplace, leaders need to not only coach, but also develop a partnership-like relationship with their employees. As Dr. Steve Stowell put it, “Leaders must learn how to convert employees into allies, not adversaries, without sacrificing standards of quality and productivity.” (Stowell and Starcevich, 2)* As allies, managers and employees can share a common cause to “accomplish the job in the best way possible”. This is a significant competitive edge.

Thoughts to Consider

• What is one way supervisors can turn employees into allies?
• How can your workplace support a culture of partnership-like relationships?

Coming Next:

Improving the performance of your organization.

• Stowell, Steven, and Matt Starcevich. The Coach: Creating Partnerships for a Competitive Edge. 1987. Sandy City: The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness, 2014. Print.


“Leaving the Top-Down Model Behind”

20th Century Leadership

Throughout the last century, many supervisors saw their role as that of manager when running organizations or teams. This practice was heavily influenced by thought leaders of the day.

“To manage is to forecast and plan, to organize, to command, & to control”
~ Fayol,Henry. General and Industrial Management. Trans. C. Storrs. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1949. Print.

~ Luther Gullick

Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Controlling
~ Harold Koontz and Cyril O’Donnell

Top-Down LeadershipAll these definitions imply top down control. They also assume that managers have all the answers and ideas to stay ahead of competition and to grow operations. Consequently, leadership meant telling, controlling and commanding. At best, leaders saw themselves as benevolent parents looking after children who needed their guidance.

Leadership for the 21st Century
A leader functioning only as a manager is no longer an effective or appropriate role for building teams and achieving consistent results. Research over the last twenty years indicates that the role of leaders needs to change to accommodate workplace changes.

Current realities in the workplace include:

  • rapid technological advancements
  • greater domestic and international competition
  • multiple generations in the workplace
  • more knowledge workers
  • workers who expect to have more say in the organization

As thought leader Dr. Steve Stowell put it, “Leaders will need to instill a new competitive spirit in employees to streamline work, reduce errors, respond to customer needs, and solve challenging problems.” (Stowell and Starcevich, 1)

Thoughts to Consider

  • What changes have you needed to make to your leadership style? What necessitated that change?
  • What advice would you give other leaders who are dealing with today’s workplace challenges?

Coming up next:
Transforming the role of the leader to give the best to and get the best out of a team.

Further Reading:
Stowell, Steven, and Matt Starcevich. The Coach: Creating Partnerships for a Competitive Edge. 1987. Sandy City: The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness, 2014. Print.


Strategic Thinking Part 2

Strategic 2

The problem we face in becoming more strategic in our thinking and planning is that society in general is addicted to “short term” thinking. In fact, many of us are addicted to the routine activity trap. Routine activities seduce us into a very tactical state of mind, caught in a short-cycle, stimulus-response mode of living. We worry about managing our “to do list,” what will happen today, whether or not we’ll make our numbers, how to get a product launched on time, or how to get equipment fixed to meet today’s production schedule. We see sales numbers drop, and we react quickly with a short-term “patch up” perspective. We put out the urgent fires and fail to think about the longer-term impact of our decisions.

As a consequence, we continue to do what we’ve always done, though changing conditions may make old solutions irrelevant to today’s problems. We simply overlook opportunities to see our situation from a strategic perspective. Too often, we focus on survival and making it through the next crisis — we simply manage today at the expense of the future.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to pay attention to the daily “operational issues.” We are frequently rewarded for it, and job security often depends upon it because too many managers are short-term thinkers. But we must learn to look to the horizon and identify the signals that indicate coming changes in our world that will impact tomorrow’s success. No one will magically invent time for us to ponder on important future issues – you have to make a conscious choice to carve out opportunities to explore and investigate the future. You have to shift gears, slow down, and focus your mind with discipline and skill. So, thinking strategically is nothing more than preparing for important future moments. When you develop the discipline to set aside the urgencies of the day and concentrate on the horizon, you create enormous advantages for yourself and your team.

Remember, it is never too late to begin acting strategically. Now is the time to reflect on your current situation and prepare for the future. Finally, don’t try to do everything at once, learn from your successes and failures as you develop your “strategic thinking skills.”

We will appreciate it if you could reflect and respond to the following questions:

  1. In what ways do we think strategically every day in a very pragmatic fashion?
  2. How much time and energy should a person devote to strategic thinking?

Dr. Steven J. Stowell, the Founder and President of CMOE, Inc., has devoted his career to the development of managers and leaders around the world. CMOE offers workshops on Applied Strategic Thinking process


Happy New Year!

new years


Wishing you all a prosperous, healthy and happy new year!!!

From the Surefooting Team:

Richard Jones, Mark Chislett, Chris Scholl, 

Sandra Conrad & Lana Adeleye-Olusae.


Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2014

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas.  

From the Surefooting Team:

Richard Jones, Mark Chislett, Chris Scholl,

Sandra Conrad & Lana Adeleye-Olusae.



Free book draw!!!

Share your thoughts on Strategic thinking or post your comments on our blog Strategic Thinking Part 1  You will automatically be entered in our draw for a free copy of “Navigating the Growth Curve” by renowned business writer James Fischer.

Growth Curve

Contest closes 11:30 pm on Wednesday December 17th, 2014!  Be sure to leave your comments before then in order to be automatically entered!!


Strategic Thinking Part 1

Strategic 1

Today, many of us face incredible pressures to deliver immediate results in our work places, to do more with less, and to manage an ever-increasing workload. The pace and urgency of daily demands can make it difficult to look even one step ahead. But in this rapidly changing world, leaders must learn to look ahead, not just think about today, but also tomorrow. Strategic thinking is nothing more than the capacity to anticipate, the discipline to prepare now, and the ability to position yourself for the future. It is the ability to mobilize and focus your resources and energy on things that will matter in the future.

That future is coming at you fast. You can prosper or be a victim asleep at the wheel. As humans, we have the capacity to think broadly, if we choose. We can choose to think consciously and deliberately about the future and about the big picture or not. Being strategic means having the courage to think deeply about what you want to do and achieve. Applied strategic thinking is about creativity, intuition, and planning to help you reach your destiny. In essence, strategic people think and act before they have to, before they are forced to take up a reactive position. Unless we change and develop our thinking patterns, our success will stagnate.

We must realize that everyone is the leader over his or her own job, project, and assignments. Effective leadership means being responsible for what happens in the future, as well as for today. A primary goal of leaders at any level should be to gain a better understanding of their own job and responsibilities as well as business conditions, the environment (the market, customers, and competitors), and the indicators that identify changes and new trends. Leaders must be in tune with the signals that provide insight into the needs and wants of team members, senior management, and suppliers. Leaders must know who their customers are, why they come to you, and what they will be looking for in the future. Leaders must anticipate how their field will change in the future. Leaders must be tapped into the competitors that most affect their world (what products they offer and how customers see them).

We will appreciate it if you could reflect and respond to the following questions:

  1. How well do you see the changes coming at you and are you prepared to handle them?
  2. Why is it important in your area of responsibility to think strategically?

Dr. Steven J. Stowell, the Founder and President of CMOE, Inc., has devoted his career to the development of managers and leaders around the world. CMOE offers workshops on Applied Strategic Thinking process.


Engagement through motivation

A regular pay cheque, a raise here or there or yearly bonuses are motivators that become familiar and less rewarding over time. The majority of employees report that appreciation is more motivating than money when it comes to their work. This makes sense as the need for belonging and to feel loved (appreciated) is one of our basic human needs. Appreciation however, is only part of the picture because it tends to happen periodically.

Think about when you are truly engaged in something. You’re excited, focused and almost obsessed with following through to the end or next part. How can you have every one of your people behaving like that when they come to work? Another company picnic? Probably not.

In order to truly and continually engage your people you need to begin to think of yourself as the engagement facilitator. Do your people know your vision? If you asked them what the mission statement of the company was would you be happy with the response? Are you overflowing and ridiculously passionate about the business that you are in? If you are not, then you have to start with you. You are after all, the engagement facilitator and the one who inspires your people to excellence.

The success of your company is the success of your people.