Leading the way: Ursula Burns

One woman’s tale of triumph rising up the ranks to become CEO of Xerox. Believe the dream!

To read the inspirational article from the London Business School Business Strategy Review magazine – click on the following link: Leading the way.


The ability to persevere in the face of what may seem impossible odds is the story of Ursula Burns, who began her career as an engineering intern at Xerox and rose to become CEO of the company in 2009.  Burns talked with Pearl Doherty about her career at Xerox.

Looking back, how do you view your journey from a poor New York City neighbourhood to becoming one of the most powerful businesswomen in the world?

Build A Team Culture Among Your Employees

Transforming a business often requires focus on people, process and technology. While a lot of effor is spent on process and technology, the people who will sustain any change and drive real innovation are often an afterthought.

Building a team culture is a necessary component of any sustainable transformation initiative. In this paper, learn how to establish an environment that promotes idea sharing and mutual respect.


The Smart Working Handbook


Flexibility as a journal has been spreading the word about The purpose of this guide is to promote an integrated, the benefits of flexible working since 1993.

We have seen flexible working move from an interesting fringe idea to the mainstream, even to the point where a ‘right to request’ flexible work is enshrined in law in the UK.

Now that the concept has moved into the mainstream, the potential benefits are widely recognised. Widely recognised – but less widely implemented. Or where implemented, often in a partial or piecemeal fashion. The UK legislation even encourages a reactive approach, making decisions on flexible working requests case by case. But that’s no way to build a strategy or to reap the benefits.

We use the term ‘Smart Working’ to refer to the new ways of working made possible by advances in technology and made essential by economic, environmental and social pressures. Flexible working is linked in to changes in working environments, working culture, technologies and management techniques.

Smart Working is an integrated and above all practical approach to realising the benefits, based on using sound metrics. The approach we recommend is one based on almost 20 years of practical experience and cutting edge research.

The Smart Work Handbook is not long. But we trust it will provide for you an excellent starting point for taking an integrated approach to developing your Smart Working strategy and programme.

( Andy Lake, Editor Flexibility.co.uk June 2011 )

Access the handbook here.

Consideration for the Cloud


Cloud computing is one of the hottest topics in enterprise IT today. However, amidst all the hype and misinformation, it is critical that enterprise decision makers consider the Cloud as a viable strategic resource for their iT environment.

This white paper discusses the IT challenges enterprises face and how the Cloud can help overcome those challenges. it then defines different Cloud configurations and the most appropriate uses of each. Finally, it provides guidance on enterprise decision-making regarding Cloud applications and platforms.

Access the full white paper here.

The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution: The Idea in Practice

When a company struggles to execute on a strategy, all too often the first reaction is to redraw the organization chart. This is costly and often ineffective. Rather than tinker with structure and incentives, organizations should look at the inner workings of the company and pull more effective levers, such as decision rights, information flow, and motivators. We are so emphatic with our clients that “it’s not just about structure” that during a recent discussion with one CEO he asked, “You do address structure too, right?” We do, of course, but we believe it is only one component of what enables an organization to execute.

In our 2008 article “The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution” we explained how executives can understand the “DNA” that makes up their organizations: not just the lines on the org chart but the way decisions are made, how information flows, and what motivates people. Then, they can use this understanding to clear the way so they are able to carry out their strategy.

Since the article was published, we’ve talked with many readers who want to know more about how the ideas can be applied in their own organizations. We developed an Idea in Practice that provides a glimpse of how one organization overcame the obstacles preventing it from executing a critical and game-changing strategy. Executives at the Europe-based industrial goods company identified the cultural and organizational issues standing in its way and altered decision rights and the flow of information rather than making costly and disruptive changes to its formal organization structure.

There are several critical lessons from this company’s experience in the Idea in Practice. Here is a preview:

Find a common language. Make sure everyone can talk about the execution issues you face in the same way.

Walk the talk. People at the top of the organization need to believe in the changes and visibly support them so that the rest of the organization is motivated to change behavior.

Focus on both organizational and behavioral changes. It is more effective to change both rather than focusing on one or another.

Know your organization. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving an organization’s ability to execute. You must find what works for you.

To learn more about how your company can improve its ability to execute, read the Idea in Practice and please share what you learn along the way.

Original article from Harvard Business Review, Jan 2012

The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution: The Idea in Practice – Ilona Steffen, Niko Canner, and Gary Neilson

What’s Your Influencing Style?


Effective leadership today relies more than ever on influencing others — impacting their ideas, opinions, and actions. While influence has always been a valuable managerial skill, today’s highly collaborative organizations make it essential. Consider how often you have to influence people who don’t even report to you in order to accomplish your objectives. Success depends on your ability to effectively influence both your direct reports and the people over whom you have no direct authority.

Have you ever thought about how you influence others? The tactics you use? We are all aware that people use different influencing tactics, but did you realize that we each naturally default to the same tactics every time? Or that the tactics we default to are also the ones to which we are most receptive when being influenced?

It is these preferred tactics that define our influencing style. Analyzing the different influencing tactics, researchers have identified up to nine primary influencing tactics. In our quest to further understand personal influencing styles, we did additional research to build on the existing knowledge base. From our research, we’ve identified five distinct influencing styles: rationalizing, asserting, negotiating, inspiring, and bridging.

You may have an idea what your style is just from hearing these labels, but the most accurate way to identify your style is with an influence style indicator — a self-scoring assessment that classifies your style based on answers to questions about preferred influencing tactics. But even without the indicator, here are some questions you can ask yourself to begin to understand your style:

  • Rationalizing: Do you use logic, facts, and reasoning to present your ideas? Do you leverage your facts, logic, expertise, and experience to persuade others?
  • Asserting: Do you rely on your personal confidence, rules, law, and authority to influence others? Do you insist that your ideas are heard and considered, even when others disagree? Do you challenge the ideas of others when they don’t agree with yours? Do you debate with or pressure others to get them to see your point of view?
  • Negotiating: Do you look for compromises and make concessions in order to reach an outcome that satisfies your greater interest? Do you make tradeoffs and exchanges in order to meet your larger interests? If necessary, will you delay the discussion until a more opportune time?
  • Inspiring: Do you encourage others toward your position by communicating a sense of shared mission and exciting possibility? Do you use inspirational appeals, stories, and metaphors to encourage a shared sense of purpose?
  • Bridging: Do you attempt to influence outcomes by uniting or connecting with others? Do you rely on reciprocity, engaging superior support, consultation, building coalitions, and using personal relationships to get people to agree with your position?

While answering these questions, take your style a step further. How often does it work for you? Are you more successful with certain types of people? Have you ever wondered why? Since there are five different influencing styles, using only your preferred style has the potential to undermine your influence with as many as four out of five people.

Gaining awareness about our own influencing style and those of others is especially critical in light of today’s fast-paced and stressful work environments, and here’s why: When we are operating unconsciously out of a preference (our style) and not seeing the results we expect, we actually have the tendency to intensify our preferred behavior — even when it’s not working!

If your individual success depends on gaining the cooperation of people over whom you have no direct authority, this should concern you. The way to begin to increase your odds of influencing more people is to learn to recognize and use each of the five styles.

Becoming aware that there are influencing styles other than yours is a good start. To further increase your influence, you must learn what each style sounds like when it’s being used effectively and ineffectively. Gaining this awareness will help you recognize when the style you’re using isn’t working and how to determine one that will.

What’s your influencing style? And what are you going to do about it?

Reprinted from Harvard Business Review (HBR).


Does technology help or hinder your business?

Not a Cost Center, IT is a Differentiator

Many organisations are reviewing the role of IT particularly in the case of business-led transformation programmes and initiatives. As more people across an organisation become more technology savvy, IT can no longer remain a cost centre , worse, a hindrance to the business.

“Treating IT as a cost center is an incorrect thinking and a very wrong business model.” Read the following excellent article and feel free to share your thoughts with me on this topic.

Not a Cost Center, IT is a Differentiator.

(original article by Chiranjoy Das is IT Director at Rand McNally)