neuresource group TV

The business roadmap — and why you need one

Posted on December 12, 2013. Filed under: neuresource group TV, Tara Neven | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

neuresource TV presents:

Tara roadmap snip

Tara Neven on why a custom roadmap is essential for strategy success

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A popular approach being applied to long range planning is to produce a roadmap that outlines the path to the future. Roadmaps and the road mapping process in general can serve as excellent communication tools and an effective means to link strategic operations, collaborative ventures, and even business plans. A roadmap can be used to implement a new initiative, to develop and launch a new product or service, or to repair a pain point in the organisation.

However, in order to achieve success with a roadmap, it must target the right  approach, involve the right collective and collaborative intelligence in the organisation, and provide enough detail for people to be able to apply the road map but not be overly-detailed, which could result in clogging the road with red tape and other barriers.

With shrinking product and service life cycles as well as  rapid technology changes, roadmaps have become an invaluable tool to help plan an organisation’s future direction along with the future market, customer, or stakeholder needs.

Elements of a successful roadmap

a_compass_sitting_on_a_stack_of_folded_road_maps_poster-r05bc98e42727495a8076928590ff9fbb_wvc_8byvr_324Think about the business roadmap approach like any other map used to travel. Just as a map shows a starting point and an ultimate destination, so does your organisational roadmap. It shows the different routes you can take, where there are choices and where there is not. It helps us identify roadblocks to avoid or construction needed to better achieve the final destination.

According to Technology Futures Inc. in a 2005 white paper on strategic roadmaps:

A roadmap process is a means to connect vision, values, and objectives with strategic actions that are required to achieved those objectives.

Organisations need to transform themselves into more focused entities by developing an organisational structure that recognises the need for a more integrated approach to management.

Steps to take

There are three essential keys to creating a successful roadmap. The first is that they must be customised to each unique situation. What can inhibit the effective use of roadmaps is a lack of understanding. Leaders need to be aware that there are multiple levels, types and styles of roadmaps.  It’s important to ensure that the interdependencies of each step along the way are understood and planned for. Additionally, a fundamental element of a strategic roadmap is that it focuses resources on the critical elements designed to meet the larger strategy.

There are also many types of roadmaps and it’s important  to ensure you are using the one that will support your strategy. Some examples of the various types of roadmaps include project or issue roadmaps, capability roadmaps, market roadmaps, and technology or services roadmaps. Where we see roadmaps most effectives is in flattened, self empowered organisational structures. Cross-functional or portfolio teams use roadmaps to great advantage because they support effective communication.

6a00d8341c3e6353ef00e5520fca008834-800wiThe second key to a successful roadmap is that there must be actionable steps identified as those that are necessary to get to the destination. In this process, it’s important that alternate routes are  identified in order to optimise resources or minimise risk. It is important that the key leadership group in the organisations is identified to drive the roadmap, that boundaries are defined, and that there is a  roadmap sponsor, much as with project management.

The third and most important step, as  identified in the neuresource group STEAR model, is that even if there is a clear strategy and well developed roadmap, its delivery will fail without the engagement and collaboration of  of all the stakeholders.  Placing a high value on collaboration and social connectedness in the workplace helps employees and stakeholders feel connected to the leaders who are driving the strategy because they feel they have a relationship built on trust. The support of effective engagement regarding the roadmap is paramount to its success. The collaborative process must instill a spirit of inclusiveness, practicality, and out of the box thinking, as well as an opportunity to address and discuss challenges and conflict in the process (call them roadblocks).

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Youtube iconWe’d love to know what you think!  Please subscribe to neuresource TV and let us know. 

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Tara Neven is the co-founder/director of neuresource group.  As an entrepreneur, business strategist, facilitator, learning and development, and collective leadership specialist, Tara has over 15 years experience in corporate learning and development, education, business growth and organisational development. The last 10 years of this experience has been in remote and regional areas of Australia. Tara’s primary industry experience has been in the mining and resource sector, construction, local government and medium to large organisations.

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Getting to the ‘why’ of your business

Posted on December 5, 2013. Filed under: neuresource group TV, Tara Neven | Tags: , , , , , , |

 neuresource TV presents:

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Tara Neven on Strategy

Tara Neven on the neuroscience of strategy

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‘Strategy’ is one of the well used, well trodden terms in business. It’s often brought out to solve a business challenge, to explain how something will be done, as well as to outline the specific steps required to achieve organisational goals. However, strategy can be hollow and often meaningless to the people that have to implement it if they don’t understand ‘why’ it’s important or just what it means to them.

The foundation of all strategy is actually getting to understanding the ‘why’ of the strategy in relation to the organization, including what it is and how it happens.  Simon Sinek, the author of  Start with Why,  challenges organisations and leaders within these organisations to ask themselves the following questions:

Why do you do what you do? Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

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images (1)Sinek points out that any organization can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate why they are in business. “Why” is not about money or profit those are always results (the how and the what). By understanding and answering the’ why’, organisations and leaders can be clearer about the strategy they are implementing. They are then more able to clearly articulate what the organization does and how it does it.

Starting with “why” works in big business and small business, in the nonprofit world and in politics. Those who start with “why” never manipulate, they inspire. And the people who follow them don’t do so because they have to; they follow because they want to. The goal is to develop a why that has meaning to everyone involved and that they see the ‘what’s in it for me’.

Organisations are living, breathing organisms just like humans.  They need food and they need education.  They need the freedom to learn things for themselves, to try and fail, and to get back up.   Inherently, long-term strategies mean that ALL decisions are made with an eye to the future20 years down the track, not next year.  That doesn’t mean you can’t make adjustments to deal with short-term pitfalls (because change agility is another key point in a resilient organization) .

Our growing knowledge of neuroscience can help leaders understand human behavior and more specifically, how they can more effectively lead behavior-based strategy implementation or change in their business.  (Be prepared to learn about the interplay among the basal ganglia (the habit center), the amygdala (the centre of emotions), and the prefrontal cortex (the centre for thinking and planning).  On their own, brain anatomy and physiology tend to be too broad to have much practical significance in the organisational environment, but when the brain is examined in the context of personal or organizational development, it can provide amazing insights and can also serve as a template for targeted strategies in accelerating the execution of  the overall strategy.

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Accelerating the execution of strategies in an organization is a goal that all leaders share, no matter what industry they work in. By understanding the ways in which people and organizations work, business developers have been able to institute effective interventions in order to create a context for change through which the strategy can be implemented.

Short of a catastrophe in the business or a sudden change in leadership, what managers need to do is to send a strong message to people that things are different.

Here are a few tips for how you can support the development, communication, and implementation of the strategy through a clear understanding of  the ‘why’.

  1. Summarize the business challenge (or pain point)  through the lens of these cognitive and behavioral insights.  That way you are focused on the things that drive behavior.  After all, that’s what will support the implementation of the strategy. Remember, these are tools not rules, a checklist, or windows into the problem. Rather, these reveal an understanding of why this challenge exists in the first place.
  2. Put this challenge through the collective brain. No one brain has the answer, and brains love to collaborate. Provide an environment for collaboration and engagement around this business challenge at a macro and micro level. Don’t just focus on the executive team coming up with the answerstart with them to determine the questions (and asking the right questions are key), but then ask the the super heroes of the business, those that work in it every day and deal with the issues all the time. These people know what works and what doesn’t from a practical level.
  3. Test, measure, and trial the process or idea before full scale roll out. See if the idea works. Test it on a small scale so the risk is minimal. During this phase , seek feedback from all stakeholders on the planned solutions. Test what levels of engagement there might be from people who are affected or affecting the business challenge.
  4. Implement, but make sure people understand they why first. The how and what of the strategy are easy to communicate, the hard part is communicating the why. Get clear on that first.

The key to all of this is that organisations should focus less upon the competition out there and more upon their ideas and products. Human nature inclines us toward a competitive frame of mind rather than a creative mind-set. We are so busy trying to steal the other guy’s slice of the market-share pie that we forget imaginative ways to build a bigger pie.

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Youtube iconWe’d love to know what you think!  Please subscribe to neuresource TV and let us know. 

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Tara Neven is the co-founder/director of neuresource group.  As an entrepreneur, business strategist, facilitator, learning and development and collective leadership specialist, Tara has over 15 years experience in corporate learning and development, education, business growth and organisational development. The last 10 years of this experience has been in remote and regional areas of Australia. Tara’s primary industry experience has been in the mining and resource sector, construction, local government and medium to large organisations.

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Don’t let your brain boss you around

Posted on November 28, 2013. Filed under: Attention Matters, Linda Ray, neuresource group TV | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

 neuresource TV presents Linda Ray on Attentional Intelligence

Linda Ray Attentional Intelligence

Idea #1: The brain can change

One of the revolutionary insights to come out of neuroscience research over the last decade is that of neuroplasticity.

Up until recently, the brain was regarded as a physiologically static organ and that our brain structure was mostly immutable after the huge developments of early childhood. However, we now know that the brain has the ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections, something that continues throughout life.

Not only does neuroplasticity allow the neurons in the brain to compensate for injury and disease, but it can adjust in response to new situations, different stimuli, and changes in the environment.

While this seems like a small discovery, it’s hugely powerful, because it means that we are not captive to either nature or nurture in the way we once thought we were.  While both nature and nurture play important roles in shaping out brains and in forming our memories, behaviours, responses, and habits, they are not “destiny”. We have much more control than we used to believe. In effect, we can re-wire our brains.

Idea #2: Where your attention goes, energy flows

I’ve thought a lot about what neuroplasticity means – not just to the stroke or accident victim – but to all of us in our everyday lives and for us as leaders.

Simply becoming more aware of our responses and paying attention to the ways we want to alter them can give us the results we’re after. After all, where your attention goes, energy flows. And what flows through your attention sculpts your brain.

Attn chartI came up with the term “attentional intelligence” to describe the practice of using the power of attention to change the brain in subtle ways. Attentional intelligence is defined as “an intelligence that when highly developed allows you to effortlessly but ‘mindfully’ notice where your attention is at any moment and to intentionally choose where you want it to be.” It is important to be curious about our attention if we intend to improve our “attentional intelligence” and the best news is it is not hard to do. What is hard is to make it a habit. Begin more intentionally noticing what is happening for you at what we refer to as the meta sensing level. Ask yourself what is happening in your body in the moment. Are you feeling calm or are you feeling a level or panic?

Next ask where is your attention focused that may be making you feel this way. Is it focused on a thought or narrative that keeps replaying in your head like a broken record or alternatively is it exactly where it is of most benefit and where you want it to be. The key is in noticing where your attention is focused and being more intentional in where you want it to be focused.

Next look at stepping out of your thinking in an impartial spectator way and notice what is in your narrative, what are you thinking and do you need to shift your thinking to support you to focus your attention in a different direction.

Idea #3:  It takes 23 minutes to regain focus

We live in a period of unprecedented complexity and distraction. It’s very easy to lose focus, to succumb to what I call “bright shiny object” syndrome. This is actually a normal response because we now know that the brain is designed to seek novelty and stimulation. It’s just that too much stimulation and novelty seeking can wreak havoc on focus and ruin productivity.

Every time you get distracted by an email or the ping of a text message, it can take up to 23 minutes to regain focus (particularly if you were on the verge of an insight or in a really heavy thinking task). Imagine what effect this has on productivity. Not only are we bombarded by these kinds of environmental interruptions, but our internal states also vie for our attention at any given moment.

Therefore, it’s important for each of us to be aware of our own attentional profile. Are you easily distracted? Do your moods take over? Do you find yourself on automatic pilot? Harvard professor Ellen J. Langer refers to this as when “the lights are on but no one is home”.

Developing attentional intelligence can help you tame both types of distractions. The practice of noticing where your attention is and bringing it back to where you want it to be will over time re-wire your brain. You’ll be able to notice distractions for what they are – your brain looking for novelty and reward. When you understand this it can assist you to resist the constant temptation of the smorgasbord of distractions vying for our attention. You’ll be better able to focus on the task at hand and at the end of the day you might have some left over energy to do some of the fun stuff.

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Youtube iconWe’d love to know what you think!  Please subscribe to neuresource TV and let us know. 

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Linda is the Managing Director of NeuroCapability and the co-founder/director of neuresource groupThese organisations are playing key roles in developing a new generation of thinking leaders through delivery of the Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership and other innovative programs informed by neuroscience.  Linda is gaining recognition both in Australia and internationally as a thought leader in the neuroleadership field.  She is actively contributing to the body of knowledge that supports the building of individual and organisational ‘neurocapability’.

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neuresourceTV: John Findlay on Change Agility

Posted on November 22, 2013. Filed under: neuresource group TV | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Following our recent working breakfast, we are delighted to present a video that summarises the key points of John Findlay’s stimulating talk on complex systems and change agility.

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(A big shout out to Luke Brown of Run Media, who produced this work.)

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Please don’t forget to subscribe to the neuresourceTV YouTube channel. We have a number of other videos in production to be rolled out over the next few weeks. Subjects range from fostering engagement, developing a roadmap for change, and getting to the core reason behind your organisational strategy.

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Date-claimer: Our next working breakfast event will be held in Brisbane on Friday, 28 March 2014, and features Thea O’Connor from NapNow on antidotes to fatigue. We hope to see you there!

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