Category Archives: Business Skills

Organisational Culture Change

“The hardest part of a business transformation is changing the culture – the mindset and instincts of the people in the company. “

“In the end, management doesn’t change culture. Management invites the workforce itself to change the culture.”

Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM

These two quotes tell it all – for culture to change and remain changed it needs the entire workforce to be involved so that they can take ownership.

Change of any kind has some basic rules that lay the foundations for success:

• Change relies upon people wanting to change.
• Those impacted by the change must be included in the decision-making processes. Even if they don’t want to change at first inclusion can lead to understanding then to ownership.
• Communicate everything. Bad news is better than no news! Don’t tell people what is going on and they will make it up. And what they make up will be far worse!
• Select ‘Champions’ that really believe in the change. They can keep it going even after the change project programme is complete. Mick Cope refers to ‘stickability’ through the use of change champions in his excellent book ‘The 7 C’s of Change’.

The first two key stages are to:

1. Have a destination in mind. All screen writers will tell you that the ending is where you start.
2. Understand exactly where you are – not just the symptoms if there are any! Even if change is required to move to the next stage in the development of your organisation and everything is going swimmingly anyway you need to understand what makes it tick.

The analogy with a screenwriter and a film is a good one.

You have a hero (your organisation) that needs to move towards the vision (new culture). But there will be conflict on the way. The screenwriter puts that conflict in the way of the hero – you have to discover what conflict presently exists and you need to plan to deal with the conflict that can occur.

More on ‘sticky’ cultural change can be found at

mappstoreA new MAPP tool for Culture Change will soon be available via the MAPP Store. Watch this space or see what other MAPPs are available by clicking on the MAPP Store icon.


How to make the 21st Century virtual team more effective

Technological advances have changed the way in which we used to perform in the past. Right now most people who are into ERP Consulting at some point on occasion work with the Global Teams, sitting at locations spread out all over the world. This kind of phenomena developed some years back and is now witnessing great success. Eventually because of the progress for Virtual Consultancy for IT particularly in circumstance of Oracle definitely seems to be un-stoppable.

Whereas once upon a time virtual teams were a rarity – they had to communicate using poor internet and Intranet, snail mail and sending each other floppy disks. It’s a different story today – companies have teams spread across the world and deal with language, cultural and time-zone differences.

It is important that managers not only learn new skills to deal with these teams – and it should be stated here that these differences are often more complementary and creative than problematic – but they must have the tools with which to pull their teams together.

John Adair brought our attention to ‘team, task and individual’ telling us that as managers and leaders we need to ensure that individuals feel part of and contribute to the team. They need to take ownership of the task and their part in its achievement.

To take ownership of a plan or task means the inclusion of all team members in the decision-making process. MAPP is a perfect way to include team members on-line and in real-time. And real-time means dealing with problems as they occur not when the post arrives.

Task managers and team leaders can include all individuals, create a team – and as John Adair tells us – allow the task to be achieved. This is what MAPP is all about – inclusion, spontaneity, achievement!

mappstoreClick on the MAPP Store logo to access tools that can support your virtual teams.

Train or Develop? How Do You Bring-on Your Leaders?

At The MAPP we believe strong leadership is essential for business success, but – still relevant after nearly 2 years – is a sobering thought published for those involved in leadership training from Mike Myatt writing in Forbes:

“Here’s the thing – when it comes to leadership, the training industry has been broken for years. You don’t train leaders you develop them – a subtle yet important distinction lost on many. Leadership training is alive and well, but it should have died long, long ago.”
He goes on to say “The solution to the leadership training problem is to scrap it in favor of development. Don’t train leaders, coach them, mentor them, disciple them, and develop them, but please don’t attempt to train them.”

Here at The MAPP we love this article because it chimes with our thinking about working with people, their ideas and their organisations. We use tools like MAPP and put them in the hands of coaches, mentors and facilitators who support leaders as they work on their own development. That’s when what Mike suggests, is actually observed: “Where training attempts to standardise by blending to a norm and acclimating to the status quo, development strives to call out the unique and differentiate by shattering the status quo. Training is something leaders dread and will try and avoid, whereas they will embrace and look forward to development. Development is nuanced, contextual, collaborative, fluid, and above all else, actionable.”

Do you train or develop your leaders?

How Do You ‘Start Up’?

Or perhaps more importantly, how do you create a project plan to help your start-up succeed?

There’s no shortage of information, advice and guidance for those wishing to ‘start up’ a business.
Apparently we’ve all got a business in us and given the lack of growth in the economy and the lack of jobs, becoming self-employed or starting a business is now becoming a necessity rather than a choice for many.
But all the information and advice doesn’t make taking the plunge any easier. Business appears complex and risky, especially when you have no experience or lack formal training. So, how to improve the chances of your success as a new business owner; how to reduce risks and make the right decisions?
How do you get to the point where you ‘start up’ your start-up….?
I’d like to consider the idea that there is a process that can take you from your great idea…. to actually doing something about it. There is a way of planning you journey to success; in whatever way you define that.
The idea is simple. Define where you are – the ‘start point’. That might be the ‘unique selling proposition’ of your new product or service or a description of the fabulous shop you want to open. The thing is, it’s a way of describing what you are passionate about creating.
Next, the goal. Why are you going into business? There’s got to be a reason, otherwise why bother? You should be able to define it clearly and also state when you want to achieve it by. If you’re working in a team, it would be good if you could all agree on what the goal is too!
So, you now know where you are and you know where you want to get to. The next stage is thinking about the journey from start to goal and creating a project plan. Planning is how you will make it happen. There are lots of things to think about, but in the context of your business, they need to be prioritised so that when you start to implement the resulting plan… you know what to do first and why.
This is where we believe that help from outside is really useful. Say that you could access the knowledge and experience of other start-ups, the coaches and mentors who support them and even those who watch and research who does what in their start-up journey.
How would that be helpful? Well, ask yourself the question…. This ‘activity’, that people have done before in creating their business, does it feature in MY journey?
If yes, then when do I need to do it? Now, soon or later? And how does it fit into other things that I have decided I need to do in my journey? Does it come before, after, or perhaps at the same time as some of the other things?
These questions can be answered with the team – or just by you – the entrepreneur – and a friend, colleague, coach or other trusted advisor.
MAPP is the tool that can help you go through this process simply, effectively and economically.

mappstoreClick on the logo to go to our MAPP Store for some great start-up tools.

Essential Business Skills Number 1 – Engagement

There are piles of academic research that demonstrate that higher levels of employee engagement will markedly improve business performance. Does that help the manager on the ground who is looking to generate enthusiasm, bolster motivation and encourage the team to drive towards the business goals? Well, not unless that academic rigour can turn itself into practical activities that can be easily implemented, and from which benefits can be drawn.
managementWe start from the premise that people want to come to work, understand their jobs, and know how their work contributes to the success of the organisation. From that starting point we set ourselves the goal of creating a set of activities that together combine to form a simple plan of action which in turn allows us to see whether we are getting things done or not. The list is probably not definitive but seems to encompass all that we know and have learned from books and real life.

Setting Direction

greenarrowandtargetIssue – In general people want to know what is expected of them and how their performance will be measured against those expectations. Hiding these expectations or making them hard to access or understand will simply drive disengagement. Making them clear, published and simple will promote enthusiasm for the goal and may encourage people to go beyond.
Solution – So perhaps it means getting everyone involved in the setting of the goals in the first place or at least allowing them to have a say. Ensure everyone in the whole team understands the goals and what their specific part in achieving them is. Hold an event around the goal setting making certain that everyone is clear of what the imperatives are and of the rewards that are available on success.

Communicating Effectively

angrymenIssue – So many plans fail not because initial communication is bad but more because communication deteriorates over the duration of the plan. Regular communication is essential to maintaining engagement by creating a common understanding of exactly where the plan has got to and what is left to do. It promotes the sense of feeling part of a wider entity that is focused on delivering a specific and successful outcome. And this communication can’t be just broadcast it needs to be interactive allowing the team to respond and suggest changes that are taken seriously through dialogue.
Solution – One way of promoting engagement is to rotate the responsibility for creating the communication. By getting each individual to be responsible at one point for the update will promote wider understanding of the issues that others face and will ensure that they know what else is going on around them. Perhaps only report on those things that need discussion or attention – both good and bad.

Promoting Teamwork

promotingteamworkIssue – Whether the team members already know each other or whether are completely new, the challenge may be to give each of them the opportunity to understand each other at a deeper level, allowing each to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the others. Once each member feels that they can depend on others for support and guidance, blame tends to fall away and the focus moves to what can make the team as a whole succeed rather than just ‘me’ as the individual.
Solution – If going offsite to climb trees and sail boats works then do it. If your budget or the team’s profile means that these approaches are not viable then there are other ways that can be as simple as a ‘brown-bag’ lunch outside on the grass (if you have any) or an afternoon talk by an external expert that is specific to your plan and allows everyone to collaborate using the expertise of another person.

Celebrating Progress

poppingcorkIssue – Most projects tend to move consistently forward, forgetting to look back every now and then to see what has been achieved and to celebrate progress. The psychology of engagement in this context is simple – build something and then stand on top of it to look at what you have done and to give yourself a better view of what’s next. If the team doesn’t take the time to review what been accomplished they may never realise that they have been successful. Rewarding people, in whatever way, for their efforts can help to build engagement.
Solution – Many will look for financial reward but others may just seek the attention that success brings. Part of the process is to make sure that there is a range of rewards available so that each person can access the one that means most to them. A ‘one size fits all’ policy may demotivate and may make team members feel less engaged with the overall plan. In all cases, making it clear that their efforts have been recognised is essential.

Keeping it Going

ballsIssue – Many people expect enthusiasm to be high at the start of any project but to fall off as the business of implementation gets underway. Indeed, it is very easy to let the momentum die away as the project gets into its stride and this needs to be avoided to maintain team engagement. There is a risk that too much effort is made to engage the team as the activity progresses. What is clear is that enthusiasm overkill is almost as bad as doing nothing at all so a balance needs to be struck where appreciation is obvious but not overplayed.
Solution – Maintaining interest and engagement can be as simple as reminding everyone of what the project goals are and showing how far the team has gone towards reaching them. This can be extended into publishing progress to another interested or connected audience to demonstrate success on a wider scale. It can also be delivered by using some social media channels to publish blogs or updates to the project to the world at large, thereby creating an ongoing story.
Ultimately we feel that generating engagement by everyone involved in the project, whatever it is, is an essential skill for managers to develop. It goes beyond just salary, allowing people to access both psychological and social fulfillment as well as generating motivation aligned with the overall business strategy driving to the heart of what really matters at work.
If you are looking for a way to engage you team in a project then maybe we can help. MAPP is a simple, fast and effective way to get your team on board with a plan and keep them engaged until its complete. Take a look at