Ten Quick Ways to Accelerate Success at Your Company
Written by: Pamela S. Harper and D. Scott Harper
The strongest companies are the ones that are constantly striving to improve their agility and innovation leadership. But even the best businesses could use a little kick-start to their thinking sometimes. Here are ten points to energize your competitive stance, provide some food for thought, and create a starting point to address challenges and opportunities that may arise:
1. Don’t wait for the "right” timeto transform. As the business environment continuously evolves, your organization needs to be in a state of constant transformation as well in order to keep pace and respond to new opportunities. Now is the time to begin identifying and addressing the innovation leadership, management, and organizational issues that enable your company to stay agile and innovative.
2. Focus on top priorities.Trying to do too much too fast can actually slow things down. Focus your organization on the top three priorities that best serve your company’s vision and mission.
3. Build a portfolio of productive external relationships.For maximum benefits, CEO and senior executive expectations for both parties need to be transparent before committing to the relationship, and at all stages thereafter.
4. Increase agility by considering multiple options before committing to a course of action. While sometimes the most obvious choice is the best answer, other times “Plan B” or even “Plan C” might be more effective under the circumstances.
5. Establish clear metrics for successthat are easy for everyone involved to understand and refer to on a daily basis. Involving others in setting these metrics will often increase the relevance and value of the metrics as well as increase the level of stakeholder commitment.
6. Uncover assumptions about problems and opportunities before taking action.Remember, there’s always more to the story. Ask questions such as “What else could be causing the problem?” and “What are the downsides of this opportunity?” Support your answers by also asking, “What evidence supports our conclusions?” The small amount of time spent digging deeper can significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your response.
7. Regularly update your company’s risk management plans.Succession plans, continuity plans, etc., can rapidly become outdated as internal and external business conditions change. Commit to regularly reviewing and updating your company's contingency plans and to periodically assessing small as well as large scale changes in the environment that could signal a need to shift direction.
8. Use training wisely. In order to reinforce the use of new knowledge and skills back at work, determine if responses in addition to training may be needed. Areas could include addressing staffing, resources, policies, and other elements of culture that impact behavior and performance.
9. Increase transparency of communication. The more that others can readily observe the connection between words and actions, the more credible you will become, which leads to greater trust and productivity.
10.Maintain a “keep adjusting” mindset.As the Greek philosopher Diogenes said thousands of years ago, “Nothing is permanent except change.” Creating an environment for your company that encourages constant inquiry and expansive thinking will greatly increase your organization's ability to actually adapt to new realities and keep moving forward, regardless of the business environment’s twists and turns.
To summarize, we recommend reading through this list and putting a star next to the tips that could potentially have the biggest impact on taking you and your company to its next level of success. Revisit this list on a quarterly basis to assess progress. Make adjustments as necessary.
Pamela S. Harperis an internationally known business performance expert, author, and professional speaker. She is the founding partner and CEO of Business Advancement Inc. (BAI), based in Glen Rock, NJ. Since 1991, BAI has enabled companies to accelerate their progress toward growth and profitability.
D. Scott Harperis an internationally recognized innovation expert with a unique ability to blend technical and business insights to achieve outstanding business results. Scott has extensive experience in moving products to market from concept generation through development and release, and has a facility for working effectively with both technical- and business-focused individuals and groups.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.