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  • There is a Sea Change inside Employee Expectations, Says Insigniam

    Insigniam, an international management consulting firm, has come forward with analysis of the recent spate of high-profile resignations, their potential underlying causes, its effect on employee expectations and professional recommendations for companies facing the same issues.

    Both Greg Smith and James Whittaker left their former companies with a perception of a negative change in leadership focus. Smith branded Goldman Sachs as a toxic environment without clients best interests in mind, and Whittaker called Google an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.

    If we look beyond the very public Goldman Sachs and Google resignations, we are witnessing a sea change in employee expectations, says Insigniam co-founding partner Shideh Bina. Employees today no longer come to work just for the paycheck they have come to expect that their work will connect to some form of greater meaning, and that they should be able to match their company’s purpose and values to their own.

    A big contributor to this change in expectations is the amount of time and effort invested by most companies in the last 20 years to engage their employees commitment to an aspiring vision and corporate values. In a 2005 study of Fortune 500 companies, more than half of the companies had a statement that described their vision, mission or purpose.*

    Yet when many of these same companies that touted inspiring vision and values are faced with some kind of threat, such as the seismic economic changes that began in 2008, without tight discipline these principles are abandoned. This shift away from high internal values to protecting the bottom line at any cost shows a need for companies to reevaluate their corporate cultures and refocus leadership on investing in a culture that gives back to employees and clients alike.

    As executives, we must be responsible for what we have bred, says Bina. If we enjoy and thrive from the fruits of an emotionally engaged workforce, and are held in high regard by our customers for the values that we are perceived to uphold, then we also have to bear the responsibility that staying true to values and on course for mission are now principles in the latest version of the employee-employer contract and fulfill our end of that contract for our employees.

    For more information on Insigniam’s approach to cultural transformation, please click here.

    *A Study of the 2005 Fortune 500 Vision Statements by Bart Kasowski and Louis Jacques Filion

    Insigniam is an international management consulting firm serving large-cap firms in multiple industry segments including pharmaceutical, healthcare, consumer goods, transportation, banking, and finance. Since 1985, Insigniam’s proven approach to enterprise transformation, elevating leadership performance, shifting culture and creating speed-to-results for the C-Suite has generated $ 9 billion in client business results.

  • 3 Levels of enterprise integrity your company can’t survive without

    Inside one company cafeteria, a handwritten sign above the stack of Styrofoam cups warns hot tea drinkers: “Adding Lemon May Damage The Integrity of This Cup.” Sounds formal, doesn’t it? The sign could simply say that acidic lemon juice may eat a hole in the cup, leaving readers to infer that hot tea could leak and seriously scald them.

    But the formal-sounding sign uses the word integrity the way that an engineer would define it: The state of being whole, lacking no component part. When applied to a business, corporation or global operation, that kind of integrity is essential.

    Sometimes, the slow erosion of enterprise integrity can start in small ways as seemingly harmless as that squeeze of lemon into a Styrofoam cup. One leak can lead to others. And before the business leaders know it, the enterprise isn’t functioning properly anymore.

    Enterprise Integrity

    With so much on the line, executives feel compelled to diligently guard the integrity of their enterprises. Such firm intent toward preserving integrity in all aspects of its enterprise can be contagious among an organization’s leadership.

    We encourage managers and executives to consider three levels of enterprise integrity:

    1. Maintaining basic organizational hygiene. Sounds clinical, but this idea gets at the notion of diligence about basic care — the daily to-dos essential to the health of the enterprise. They include:

    • Monitoring ethical behavior of leaders and employees alike in all dealings and interactions.
    • Staying true to promises or pledges to fellow leaders, employees, business partners, and customers.
    • Applying the standard of integrity to all written communications, standard operating procedures, promises for performance and results, and the like.

    2. Aligning operations with the enterprise intent. In this aspect of integrity, systems and processes are consistent with and support the business vision, strategy, principles, and values. And they should actually work. Too many times, processes seemingly work on paper and look fine in black and white. But ask employees about work-arounds and pain points, and they’ll often confess that what’s written doesn’t match reality. Getting real about what works and what doesn’t and having honest conversations about processes and systems can preserve or improve enterprise integrity.

    3. Watching conversations at the leadership level. Executives and managers can strive to keep their conversations — in the boardroom and in the break room — aligned with the enterprise values, principles, and vision. No game playing, finger pointing, or manipulation. Those tactics have a way of trickling down, and that’s how erosion can begin. It is “walk the talk” in its full meaning.

    In fact, this third level of integrity serves as the primary platform that allows an organization to achieve Breakthrough Performance rather than operating under a status-quo mentality. We define breakthroughs as unprecedented outcomes that lead to new possibilities for future results. An organization that generates breakthroughs in a reliable and consistent manner is an organization that has integrity in the truest sense — complete in form and function, as well as completely incorruptible.

    Keep the integrity conversation going; join the Insigniam Executive Forum LinkedIn group for insights and discussion from other executives and expert management consultants.

  • Why Your Business Won’t Be the Same in 5 Years: The Case for Strategy Innovation

    IBM once made grocery scales and cheese slicers. Nokia made paper products. Both are now known for something entirely different, building the case for strategy innovation.

    The business you operate today won’t be the same in a couple of years, say long-time management consultants Robert E. Johnston, Jr., and J. Douglas Bate, both of Insigniam. Venturing out for more aggressive topline growth means that organizations have to regularly scan the horizon for what’s next, even if it means completely changing the business model.

    Like IBM and Nokia, leaders have to search unchartered strategic frontiers for new opportunities. These strategic frontiers require business pioneers willing to take the risk of experimenting with innovation while successfully running the day-to-day business. But, as the authors warn, if you won’t take a risk, your competitors will.

    However, turning innovation into a core competence that creates topline growth and uncovers new opportunities is complicated. That’s where strategy innovation enters the picture.

    What is strategy innovation?

    Strategy innovation identifies new business opportunities for new growth, dispelling the myth that strategy planning and innovation are separate functions. Johnston and Bate argue the two opposing exercises of business planning and innovating can be combined for powerful results.

    And Johnston and Bate, the authors of The Power of Strategy Innovation, have a startling answer as to why more companies don’t pursue strategy innovation:

    Because companies don’t have the internal structure or process to do it.

    5 steps to strategy innovation

    In their book, the authors remove the guesswork of setting up a discovery process. Their strategy innovation method is outlined in five phases:

    1. Staging. As discovery team members assemble, define roles, and accrue resources for the process, they act almost like the crew of a tall ship preparing for an explorer’s journey.
    2. Aligning. The team and senior management coalesce around the “strategic frontier(s)” where the ship should go, akin to a ship’s captain getting approval from his patron on an anticipated route.
    3. Exploring. The team gathers information on the strategic frontier, like an explorer and crew chronicling their discoveries of new lands and treasure to present to sponsors back home.
    4. Creating. Based upon their discoveries, the team develops ideas for new business opportunities, just as opportunistic explorers did for their newly discovered lands.
    5. Mapping. The team forecasts the plan for achieving the new business venture and guiding it toward success, just as early explorers drew maps to help them return to the new destinations and realize the potential they touted.

    Realizing that even the best practices can fall by the wayside if execution isn’t successful, the authors dedicate a third of the book to implementation and another third to advanced questions, encouraging readers with case studies and straight-to-the point advice.

    With strategy innovation at the helm, what strategic frontiers could your company explore? Download or order Johnston and Bate’s book from