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Rewire Your Brain for Business Success – How to Harness the Power of the Four Intelligences

December 12, 2014 Comments off

Acolyst

by Valeh Nazemoff

Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in the flood of data you receive each day? Are you simply reacting to challenges at work, instead of proactively addressing them? You are not alone. A new approach called “The Four Intelligences” can serve as a life preserver to help us master the flood of information we receive every day.

In my role as Senior Vice President of a business performance management firm, I commonly see executives struggle when attempting to answer two key questions:

  1. Are you confident that your organization’s performance will improve?
  2. Do you believe that the information you have in hand is accurate?

The management team at one client in particular was providing their executives with mountains of reports, sometimes hundreds of pages. The execs were overwhelmed and didn’t know how to make sense of it. They weren’t sure what questions to ask, what data they needed or why they needed it. Leadership wanted to make a difference to impact and transform their organization, but found it too difficult without insight into what was going on in their organization. That’s what sparked my creation of the “Four Transformational Intelligences.”

Valeh Nazemoff

Valeh Nazemoff

This new approach for business transformation blends practical strategies based on research from organizational psychology, neuroscience, business analytics, and multiple intelligences theory. These types of intelligences – financial, customer, data, and mastermind – are different but interrelated and, when coupled with key exercises, can lead to exponential organizational change. My original goal when creating this approach was to help my clients retrain their brains and drive value in their organizations, but I soon realized that this knowledge can benefit anyone from individual leaders up through entire organizations.

But what are the Four Intelligences?

  1. Financial Intelligence: Collect and use financial data to generate insights that lead to increased cash flow, profitability, and growth, as well as quality and productivity.
  2. Customer Intelligence: Understand your customers and how to find, attract, and connect with them on multiple, nuanced levels.
  3. Data Intelligence: Create easily understood, organization-wide processes, procedures, and systems through collaboration.   Communicate data in a timely manner and useful visual format.
  4. Mastermind Intelligence: Build a non-judgmental, creative environment based on mutual respect and collaboration.  Empower employees to be innovative when engaging and supporting partners and customers.

Each of the Four Intelligences encompasses a unique set of questions for every decision maker to ask himself or herself and their team. By training their brains to think along these lines, they will be able to use the outputs from these queries to identify, evaluate, and pursue transformational opportunities.

As I was building the methodology for this approach while consulting with my clients, I realized there is another major area to consider as you are about to embark on a new endeavor – your mindset.

“When the student is ready, the master appears”
This expression applies to the workplace as well. But, what does it mean to you? To me, it means that true learning and transformation can only occur when you have the right attitude, or mindset.

To make this mental transition, you must prepare, prepare and then prepare some more. Asking the proper strategic questions at the outset of a project can help you avoid costly rework, delays and deviations from strategy. Thorough and strategic assessment and documentation is key, as it paints a clearer picture of potential impacts on people, processes and systems. Through my work, I’ve learned that there is no tool or process that can replace the effectiveness of a meticulous requirements analyst. You may not have one at your disposal, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to ask similar questions.

Get On the Same Page
Let’s say you ask all the right questions and map out your strategy. Then you must be all set, right? Not quite yet. Does everyone who will be impacted – both internally and externally – by this project share the same definitions of key terms? Of necessary action items? Of who is responsible for what? By ensuring that all players are on the same page from the get-go, you establish a cohesive mindset that improves your odds of achieving impactful and lasting change.

An Iterative Cycle
The Four Intelligences are not a static tool – rather, they represent a dynamic, iterative cycle. By constantly reevaluating changing conditions through the lenses of Financial, Customer, Data and Mastermind Intelligence, you provide yourself with ongoing opportunities to refine and readjust strategy as needed.

Caution: May Be Habit Forming
Just like with any new pattern of behavior, harnessing the power of the Four Intelligences comes through practice. Your goal is to create a habit of automatically thinking along the lines of the Four Intelligences. It’s not just rhetoric either – there are many engaging exercises you can try solo or as a team to really internalize the methodology. Once that occurs, you can easily spot what areas can benefit from your attention, and then improve them, helping yourself and your organization.

As you learn to cut through the clutter of daily data and collect and use critical information, you’ll see that you have optimized business performance through a combination of strategy, technology and teamwork. Then, you will be able to confidently answer “Yes” to those two key questions.

Valeh Nazemoff is the Senior Vice President and co-owner of Acolyst, a high-level business technology performance management consulting firm. An accomplished strategic advisor, team builder, speaker, author and teacher, she is passionate about improving people’s lives through strategic planning, technology and teamwork. Learn more about Valeh Nazemoff and her new book, The Four Intelligences of the Business Mind, at www.valehnazemoff.com and www.acolyst.com.

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280 Group Announces Release of “Optimal Product Process 2.0” book for Product Management/Marketing

December 8, 2014 Comments off

280 GroupBrian Lawley, 280 Group CEO and Founder, announced this week the release of the book Optimal Product Process™ version 2.0, which outlines the company’s modern, up-to-date product lifecycle management process that meets today’s Product Management and Product Marketing challenges.

The new ebook, available on December 8, 2014, from http://www., has been revamped based on feedback from the 280 Group’s clients, training attendees and the overall Product Management community. “We utilized the feedback from tens of thousands of our training and consulting clients as well as the overall Product Management community,” says Lawley. “The new version is much more flexible, and can support teams using various methodologies, including Agile, Waterfall, or Hybrid development. It can be easily adapted for nearly any environment, industry, or market.”

Lawley says the original impetus for the book came from several factors:

  1. Methodologies, frameworks, product process, training and other materials available for product management and product marketing were out of date. “Most of what was out there was developed in the mid-1990s or early 2000s,” Lawley says. “Between the Internet, social media, new development methodologies, rapid release cycles, and instantaneous availability of competitive information, the jobs of Product Manager or Product Marketer had completely changed, so we wanted to address that need.”
  1. In many companies, there was a lack of clarity on the roles and responsibilities of Product Management and Product Marketing. Some companies tried to have one person fill both roles. In other places, each discipline had one person assigned to each role, but with no clear direction, there was overlap of some tasks, while other critical tasks were completely overlooked.
  1. Companies had adopted new methodologies such as Agile without the strategic underpinning required for success. “An Agile development process is certainly exciting in terms of rapid software development,” says Lawley. “But what we were seeing is that at the same time companies were embracing this new development model, they were also not performing other critical functions of the lifecycle—developing business cases, crafting marketing strategy, and planning for end-of-life. So we wanted to create something that takes advantage of quick development – without missing the strategic elements necessary for optimum success.”
  1. There was no consistency in methodology from company to company, so Product Managers and Product Marketers were not able to leverage skills effectively as they switched companies or industries.

“We drew on the base-level work we had participated in during 2009-2010 when we helped the AIPMM (Association of International Product Management & Marketing) create the worldwide standard seven phase lifecycle model,” Lawley explains. “We took the seven phase lifecycle and dramatically expanded it to build a comprehensive product process that goes beyond a basic training course to include corresponding templates, books, certifications, and coaching programs.”

The seven phases described in the book include Conceive, Plan, Develop, Qualify, Launch, Maximize, and Retire. One change in the Second Edition of the Optimal Product Process is that Phase VI has been changed from “Market” to “Maximize.” This change was made to fully maximize revenues and profitability by reflecting the need for continual marketing programs, as well as other activities, such as demand generation, competitive responses, public relations, incorporating customer feedback into future revisions, and supporting the sales force.

“Higher profits, better products and long-term competitive advantage are the result of implementing excellent Product Management methodology,” says Lawley. “By applying the Optimal Product Process, companies can expect to deliver products that delight their customers and at the same increase revenues and profitability.”

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Brian Lawley is recognized as a thought-leader and authority on the profession of Product Management and Product Marketing. He is the CEO and Founder of the 280 Group, which transforms organizations and individuals to perform highly effective product management. Lawley is author of five best-selling Product Management books and one of the creators of the Optimal Product Process™. He is also the former President of the Silicon Valley Product Management Association (SVPMA), was awarded the AIPMM Award for Thought Leadership in Product Management, and has been featured on World Business Review and the Silicon Valley Business Report.

Leadership Sustainability (Book Review)

April 8, 2013 Comments off

Leadership_SustainabilityLeadership Sustainability
Seven Disciplines to Achieve the Changes Great Leaders Know They Must Make
Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood
April 2013
288 pages
$30.00 Cover Price, $17.49 Amazon, $14.99 Kindle

Review Rating: 9/10

You only have to Google the phrase, “The need for leadership” to find out that there is a hunger for leadership. Anyone can take on the role of leader but what people really want is leadership. What are the characteristics of a good leader? Why does anyone want to become a leader? Why would you want to become a better leader? Who do leaders look to for leadership?

This isn’t the only book on leadership sustainability but it’s the only one that provides you with seven applicable principles or disciplines as the authors call them. From the very first words in the book (Preface), the authors challenge you to become a better leader. You’ve taken the first step by reading the book, Preface included.

“Most good leaders want and try to become better,” the book begins and then goes on to explain how leaders attempt to become better by using leadership coaching, 360-degree feedback and other techniques to magically transform into a better version of themselves. As the authors acknowledge, few leaders ever put their learned techniques into practice over a sustained period of time.

The authors tell you up front what the main purpose of the book is without any guesswork or further exploration: “…to help leaders sustain the changes that they know they should make–this is, to support leadership sustainability.”

Additionally, the authors spare you the pain of consuming all 288 pages before you realize the benefit of their experience and knowledge. They tell you right there in the Preface what the seven disciplines are and a short synopsis of each. If you’re a quick start type, then be sure to read the Preface. Have I emphasized that enough?

Perhaps, if I were to give the authors a bit of advice, I’d tell them to move the Preface to Chapter One and then start the book fresh with the first discipline in Chapter Two.

Leadership Sustainability is a no fluff book that is far from a self-help pep talk from ivory tower types. This book gets to the nitty gritty and exchanges beautiful prose for practical information. If you like a no nonsense approach to your reading, you’ll love it. There’s no suspense, there’s no punch line and there’s no surprise ending but there’s plenty of good practices and clearly defined techniques for increasing your effectiveness as a leader.

Ulrich and Smallwood present you with the seven disciplines in mnemonic format: START ME. Of course, there’s no shortcut to becoming a better leader and the authors acknowledge that. But if you apply yourself and focus on the seven disciplines that they outline, you’ll be able to sustain your leadership focus indefinitely.

The layout of the book makes it easy to use as a reference. After you read through Chapter One’s introduction, background information, reference material and install the STARTME app, you jump right into Chapter Two: Simplicity. Chapter Two is arguably the most important chapter in this book. I suggest that you read it twice to be sure that you understand the concept and benefit of simplicity in leadership.

The following six chapters present the other six disciplines: Time, Accountability, Resources, Tracking, Melioration and Emotion. And trust me, you haven’t explored these topics or concepts satisfactorily until you read their extraordinary presentations from Ulrich and Smallwood. If you think you know what each of the seven disciplines mean, you’re probably close but wrong.

For example, do you know how to build simplicity? Exactly. You need to experience the process for yourself.

In the book’s final chapter, Chapter Nine, you receive a leadership assessment. It’s not a 100 question self-assessment that you can guess the answers to or cheat by looking them up–nor is it a regurgitation of the book’s material in the form of questions. The authors ask you probing and thoughtful questions that you can use to examine yourself, your personality and your leadership style.

For example, one of my favorite questions from Chapter Nine is, “How do you approach failure?” The point of the question is to examine yourself and to answer honestly. How you approach failure is not as important as how you will approach failure moving forward. To grow as a leader, you must always be willing to learn, to build and to assess what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

The second part of that question is, “What questions do you ask to show that you are a learner?”

Now that you’ve finished reading the book, go back and read Chapter Two again and see if you can figure out why the authors put simplicity first in the book.

I highly recommend Leadership Sustainability for anyone in a leadership position or for anyone who wants to develop leadership skills.

Review Rating: 9/10
Recommendation: Highest

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