Thursday, November 30, 2017

Why Immigrants Make Great Entrepreneurs

They’ve often overcome a lot of hardships. A business setback is nothing.
Immigrants being interviewed at New York’s Ellis Island, circa 1940. PHOTO: GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHIC AGENCY/GETTY IMAGEs
Source: https://goo.gl/ExpqLJ

By Adrian FurnhamNov. 26, 2017 10:11 p.m. ET

Outsiders face a tough struggle fitting into a new culture. They must figure out how to deal with, and overcome, frustration, loneliness and a steep learning curve.

And that’s why immigrants make such great entrepreneurs—they’re once again outsiders facing many of the same kinds of obstacles. Been there, done that.

I’ve been studying immigrants for over a decade, trying to figure out what makes so many of them go into business for themselves in the West—at higher rates than natives do—and succeed, too. The Kauffman Foundation’s annual Index of Startup Activity shows that immigrants were almost twice as likely as native-born to start new businesses in the U.S. in 2016. Almost 30% of all new entrepreneurs were immigrants, Kauffman says. A report from the Partnership for a New American Economy found that in 2016, 40.2% of Fortune 500 firms had “at least one founder who either immigrated to the United States or was the child of immigrants.”

I’m not surprised. What I’ve found is that immigrants not only have the qualities that help any entrepreneurs succeed—including aggressiveness and creative thinking—but they get a big boost because many of the skills they picked up coping with a new world are transferable to the entrepreneurial world.

My research is based largely on many conversations with entrepreneurs. In addition, I teach at a university that attracts vast numbers of overseas students. And finally, I bring my own perspective to the research: I am a migrant who grew up in Africa.

One caveat: These are broad stereotypes. Obviously, not all immigrants are entrepreneurial role models. And clearly, plenty of natives are. But there are reasons why so many immigrants forge an entrepreneurial path. It is worth identifying the likely factors—both to help understand the immigrant experience and what they can bring to their new economies, as well as to better identify what makes anybody thrive as an entrepreneur.


Lands of opportunity: The vast majority of migrants (as opposed to refugees) move to improve the economic and educational status of themselves and their families. When they arrive, they are aggressive about taking advantage of the stable economic system and respect for law and order, things they often can’t count on back home. Natives are more likely to take those for granted and not push to make the most of opportunities.

I met three immigrant entrepreneurs recently who had become friends through business. They all said the same thing: They were amazed by the quality of free education, by the benefits of the infrastructure and most of all the lack of awareness by the natives of how lucky they were. As one said, “As long as you are prepared to work hard and take some risks, it is easy to succeed in this country.”

Rolling with punches: All entrepreneurs experience failure and rejection, but outsiders are often better prepared to not be devastated by hard times, because they have already faced harder times than most people can imagine. They’ve left behind friends, family and support networks. Then they enter an unfamiliar nation full of complex bureaucracy, discrimination and other hurdles. Having already faced hardship, immigrants look at business setbacks as less traumatic, leaving them less likely to buckle and break in the face of adversity.



I have met a few entrepreneurs, for instance, who were thrown out of Uganda by Idi Amin. They arrived in cold, indifferent Britain with what they could carry—and used the strength they gained from that disruption to persist in hard times. Coping with difficulties made me, says one of those immigrants, now in charge of a successful business.

They had no capital, and no experience of British law and customs. One, who ran a number of bakeries in Africa, said he had to get a menial job in a local bakery to learn British tastes and preferences. The locals didn’t like bread and cakes as sweet as he expected, and freshness was all important. But he was fine with the setback. He adapted his recipes, started a small bakery and now owns a large chain.

Watching social cues. Because outsiders fear making a faux pas in a new world, they become adept at picking up cues that signal mistrust and misunderstanding. Similarly, they become good at reading people, and noticing the relationships between groups they do business with. That potentially makes them more shrewd and more perceptive in situations such as negotiations or sales pitches.

One entrepreneur told me that he was astonished that everything in markets and shops was openly priced. He came from a culture where everything was negotiated—in his words, the difference between the mall and the bazaar, where people must learn to haggle, charm and persuade. People in his home country needed to observe customers closely to figure out how rich they were, whether they were serious, and whether they knew how to play the game. He believed that skill had served him well when negotiating deals in his adopted country.

A different network: In some sense, immigrants don’t have the array of local networks that natives do. But they often can substitute that broad network with a much deeper network: co-nationals. These earlier migrants are in many ways more supportive of their entrepreneurial successors than the networks that are available to native entrepreneurs. The earlier migrants offer financial support—including loans and discounts on products and services—as well as insights about local practices and people. Networking with this support group gives new immigrants a relatively safe environment to build interpersonal skills as well as learn crucial skills they need.

It also offers them a way to simply survive difficult times, giving them breathing room to become entrepreneurs. Often a whole family shares a large, run down, cold and damp house with three other large families in the same position. They share everything and learn from one another.

Seeing with fresh eyes: Because immigrants learn about their new home culture, and its rules of language and etiquette, from the outside, they often have perspectives that natives don’t have. They see possibilities and opportunities that natives don’t see, and find new ways to be creative. They bring new flavors, musical sounds, cultural tastes to their new land. They also bring new ideas about selling, managing, customer service, technology and more. Confronting a problem with a fresh perspective is a huge advantage. Immigrants come by that naturally.

Dr. Furnham is a professor of psychology at University College London. Email reports@wsj.com.

Appeared in the November 27, 2017, print edition as 'Why Immigrants Make Such Good Entrepreneurs.'


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Soledad Tanner Biography

BIOGRAPHY

Soledad Tanner is the founder and CEO of Soledad Tanner Consulting, LLC, a Business and Financial Management firm which helps improve profit and productivity of businesses. She has 26 years of extensive international experience in Finance & Controlling, Strategy & Consulting, and Performance & Metrics in the Global Logistics and Banking industries. Her mission is to help businesses find areas of improvement and opportunities to grow profits by taking second-guessing out of the equation and providing clear pathways toward fulfilling their visions. She has strong project management and organizational leadership skills and is effective in communicating complex financial strategies in simple, actionable terms that produce results. She accomplishes these outcomes, with consideration of the affected people and human needs, which reflects her bright personality that in turn inflects her hard numbers with the effectiveness of her ideas behind them.

EXPERIENCE

Tanner was a rising star with Danzas, DHL Global Forwarding and Deutsche Post DHL Supply Chain, beginning as a Controller Houston and SouthWest USA. The company valued her strength as an efficient leader, in conjunction with her excellent people skills and promoted her Controller of Industrial Projects and later Controller of Sales; both positions put her in leadership across the entire USA. The constant in her career path has been creating meaningful analysis, while remaining approachable, which suited her in the role of Director Controller of Human Resources for all the Americas. That position showcased Tanner as a bilingual, multicultural business strategist. She later put her enthusiasm and velocity for change into action by spearheading DHL’s Global HR strategy as Global Director of Strategy, Performance, and Metrics.

ABOUT ME

Tanner is Ecuadorian American with Swiss roots. She serves as Vice President for HGSCA (Houston Guayaquil Sister City Association) and she is a member of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She has lived and worked in Ecuador, USA, Uruguay, UK, India, Germany, and Switzerland and is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. She is a mentor with the Insight Alumni program at St. Thomas University (UST), from which she obtained her Master’s degree in International Business. She also holds a certificate of Leadership and Organizational Leadership from Rice University.







Monday, November 20, 2017

¿Como comenzar un negocio en el 2018? Radio interview # 12, KYST 920 AM con Irasi Jimenez

Do you want to start a new business in 2018? What problem will you be solving? Why will the market buy your product or service? Who are your competitors and what are they doing? How much do you need to start your business? Increase your chances of success!!!! For more information, listen to this interview:

Soledad Tanner Consulting, LLC offers Financial Management and Business Consulting Solutions for companies and professionals. If the financial management of your company gives you headaches, seek help, delegate the experts and increase the chances of success of your business! 

Investing in consulting solutions today is cheaper than failing tomorrow. We offer 26 years of experience in the search for creative and customized solutions for highly complex problems We offer a free 1-hour consultation! Contact us 832-998-2136, Soledad@SoledadTanner.com, www.soledadtanner.com

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¿Quieres comenzar un nuevo negocio en 2018? ¿Qué problema resolverás? ¿Por qué el mercado comprará tu producto o servicio? ¿Quiénes son tus competidores y qué están haciendo? ¿Cuánto necesitas para comenzar tu negocio? ¡Aumenta tus posibilidades de éxito! Para más información, escucha esta entrevista: 

Soledad Tanner Consulting, LLC le ofrece el servicio de Administracion financiera y Consultoria de Negocios para empresas y profesionales. Si el manejo financiero de su empresa, le da dolores de cabeza, busque ayuda, delegue a los expertos e incremente las probabilidades de exitos de su negocio! 

Invertir en soluciones de consultoría hoy es más barato que fracasar mañana. Ofrecemos 26 años de experiencia en la búsqueda de soluciones creativas y personalizadas para problemas altamente complejos 

¡Ofrecemos una consulta gratuita de 1 hora! Contáctenos 832-998-2136, Soledad@SoledadTanner.com, www.soledadtanner.com Para mas informacion, escuche esta entrevista:



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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start a Business



Written by: Jess Ekstrom •Guest Writer

I adhere to the belief that you don’t have to have everything figured out before you start your business. It’s important to have your mission and your business model, of course. As for the rest, that will evolve over time.

Still, I meet a lot of people who are unsure whether or not to take that first step. Certainly, it can be challenging to do a business "on the side" until it's big enough to sustain itself. But the most effective way to find out if your idea is going to work is to simply go all-in. Otherwise you’ll never truly know.

Here are some questions to help you decide whether or not to go "all-in."
1. What problem am I solving?

Answer this: My product will solve ___________________. If you can’t answer that, stop there and go back to the drawing board. It’s important that your product solve some sort of need because that’s what determines the value.

The book Rework likens entrepreneurship to having an itch and then scratching it. The "itch" is your problem; the scratch is your solution. Kids losing their self-esteem after hair loss through chemotherapy was my particular itch. Headbands of Hope, which provides headbands to kids during treatment, is my scratch.

When you think of solving a problem, you usuallly think of functionality. For example: a coffee mug that keeps your coffee hotter longer. Or luggage that compresses to take up less space. However, a need can also be something less obvious and still have value. For example: The app Offline Media tells you what’s going on in your city, if you live in North Carolina. The need it's filling is getting people "offline" and outside.
2. What funds do I absolutely need to start?

Maybe your dream is to open up a storefront to sell your handmade chocolates. However, that’s a lot of money you'll need up-front to open a store, especially if you haven’t tested the concept. Instead, do whatever you can do in the beginning to use as little in funds as possible to grow organically.

Sell your chocolates at farmers markets, or online if you can. When I started my company, I only had a very limited number of styles for people to choose from. Once I sold those, I used the profits to expand my collection.

Think about what you absolutely need to buy in order to start, not what you’d ideally like to have in the bank. Your number to get started might be smaller than you think.

3. Who else is doing this?

You can’t play the game if you don’t know the players. Do a simple Google test to see who else is out there doing what you're doing. Just because someone else is out there selling chocolates doesn’t mean you can’t sell chocolates, too. However, you need to see what the competition looks like in order to decide if you can offer something better.
4. What’s my ‘special sauce’?

Speaking of differentiating yourself from the competition, determine what your "special sauce" is. According to Shark Tank's Mark Cuban, your special sauce is a quality about your company that stands out from the rest. For example, my headband company donates a headband to a child with cancer for every headband we sell. Our charitable donation is our special sauce because it differentiates us from other headband companies.

Your own special sauce can come from a lot of different areas of your company: where it’s made, the unique quality of the product, how it’s made, competitive pricing, a charitable component or your stellar customer service.

For example, Lawson Hammock's product differs from other hammock companies' because it has a built-in tent on top.

Ask yourself, "What is going to make someone purchase my product over my competitors'?" Your answer is your special sauce and should always be included in your marketing.
5. What resources do I currently have to get started?

Remember in Cast Away when Tom Hanks' character opened all the floating packages and repurposed them for survival? That’s exactly the mentality you need to have when you’re an entrepreneur.

I hear too many people tell me what they don’t have. I’d rather hear what you do have access to and how you plan to utilize it. I started my company when I was in college. Even though I didn’t have any money or experience, I focused on what I did have: professors (closest thing to industry experts) and access to numbers (students).

I worked with different professors to help develop a business plan and create a product and website and everything else I needed to get started. Once I was ready to go, students were my first customers.

So, make a list of everything you have that can help you: people you know, finances, skills and anything else. You’ll be surprised how resourceful you can be even when you feel limited.

Another question I hear people ask themselves before they start a business is, “Is this the right time?” I’m going to save you from asking yourself that because there will never be a time that feels totally right.

But I will tell you that when you want something badly enough, you make time for it no matter what. Starting a business isn’t about the stars aligning and your feeling 100 percent confident. Starting a business is about your passions and excitement outweighing your fears and doubts.

These questions might not give you a clear answer, but when you catch yourself constantly going back to the same idea when you lay your head down on your pillow each night, you know you’re on to something you're passionate about. Sometimes, that’s the only answer you need.

How to Survive Your First Year of Entrepreneurship



Why? To be honest, it is hard. It’s not all glamor and glitz. You don’t rocket to stardom in a few short months, drive a McLaren, date Hollywood celebs and take baths in hundred-dollar bills.

In fact, you’re lucky if you survive at all.

Thankfully, there are some secrets to survival. Entrepreneurs survive by pursuing more than fast cars and lots of cash. Entrepreneurs survive by following these rules.
Keep your eye on the goal.

If you don’t know your goal, don’t have a goal or can’t articulate your goal, stop.

You’re going to give up if you don’t have a goal. What is a good goal?

-Something that you believe in
-A cause bigger than yourself
-Something that benefits humankind
-Something that requires you to keep hustling every day
-Something that is truly attainable
-Something that you can quantify or measure

Write down your goal. Look at it every day. Read it out loud. This is what will keep you going.

Believe in what you’re doing.

You’ve probably heard of guys like Elon Musk who said that they would rather die than not realize their dream. Or maybe you’ve listened to impassioned entrepreneurs speak of working all night, sleeping in their office and eating only fast food because they were so driven to work on their business.

Those aren’t healthy habits, but they certainly display the kind of commitment that an entrepreneur needs to have.

Where does that kind of commitment come from? It’s more than just an insane work ethic. It comes from believing in something with an unshakeable faith. You’re sold on your idea. You know it’s the right thing to do, and you’re going to do it.

If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, you’re going to quit.
Get support.

Most humans need a little love and support along the way. Entrepreneurs are no different. Find a supportive community that pushes you, encourages you, feeds you and tells you that it’s going to work out.
Learn to love risk.

Risk is not going away. You’re going to eat it for breakfast every day. The true risk isn’t deciding to start a business. Anyone can do that. The true risk is taking more and bigger risks every day that you’re actually in business.

It’s not risky to embark upon a dream. It is risky to play with millions of dollars from investors, place people’s jobs and livelihoods on the line, and face legal and financial implications.
Be content with being uncomfortable.

Discomfort is your new status quo. Whether it’s health concerns, mental stress or a raw and jittery drivenness, you are not going to be comfortable very often.

There are no shortcuts or hacks for overcoming the discomfort. It is omnipresent and inescapable. You can, however, become more comfortable with it by knowing that it’s a good sign. The discomfort proves that you’re pressing beyond your comfort zone, making things happen and personally growing.
Live lean.

Entrepreneurs have to live lean before they live large. Many aspiring entrepreneurs have literally been homeless or worked minimum wage jobs before they experienced success.

Chris Gardner had to live on the streets as a single parent before growing his business. Some entrepreneurs challenge other entrepreneurs to live out of their car for at least a year.

Don’t let the anticipation of future rewards fool you into thinking that you can live like a king right now. You can’t. So don’t.
Schedule breaks.

Even the most iron-willed entrepreneurs need to take breaks. Give yourself some space every now and then. Keep the commitment to your breaks, or you’ll experience burnout.

Joe Robinson writes, "Working without letup is a bad habit that can jeopardize business, health and the life you're supposedly working toward. You need to stop, breathe and experience some level of reprieve. Often, the biggest business breakthroughs come when you give yourself some space from the business entirely.''
Eat, sleep and exercise.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t have time to do anything except grind. But you need to make time to eat right, get sufficient sleep and exercise some. These three things are what give you the ability to keep at it.

The moment you drop one of these healthy habits is the moment your productivity nosedives and you don’t work as effectively. Staying fit is the key to staying successful.

It may seem like a waste of time to sleep seven hours a night, eat fresh food, or take a two-mile jog, but these “time wasters” are actually time savers. They give you the stamina, endurance, mental clarity and power that you need to both survive and succeed.

A group of 100 entrepreneurs will dwindle over one year’s time to a group of 10 entrepreneurs. The others will fizzle out. They’re hunting for a job, dreaming up a new plan or back in their old cubicle.

No one ever said that entrepreneurship was easy. No one promised success. No one entered entrepreneurship because it was going to be a cakewalk.

Is it going to be any different for you? Success is attainable. Know what you’re up against, and prepare for survival.

You’ve got this.

¿Como mejorar la utilidad y productividad de su negocio? Radio interview # 11, KYST 920 AM con Irasi Jimenez

How to make a budget and a financial projection for 2018? We can help you. We offer 4 monthly financial management packages to fit your needs. How to analyze the financial performance of your business at the end of 2017? What to do if the earnings of this year are lower than last year? We fix those problems with our consulting and productivity solutions.

Soledad Tanner Consulting, LLC offers Financial Management and Business Consulting Solutions for companies and professionals. If the financial management of your company gives you headaches, seek help, delegate the experts and increase the chances of success of your business! 

Investing in consulting solutions today is cheaper than failing tomorrow. We offer 26 years of experience in the search for creative and customized solutions for highly complex problems We offer a free 1-hour consultation! Contact us 832-998-2136, Soledad@SoledadTanner.com, www.soledadtanner.com.

For more information, listen to this interview:

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¿Cómo hacer un presupuesto y una proyección financiera para el 2018? Te podemos ayudar. Ofrecemos 4 paquetes mensuales de administración financiera para satisfacer sus necesidades. ¿Cómo analizar el rendimiento financiero de su empresa a finales de 2017? ¿Qué hacer si las ganancias de este año son más bajas que las del año pasado? Solucionamos esos problemas con nuestras servicios de consultoría y productividad.

Soledad Tanner Consulting, LLC le ofrece el servicio de Administración financiera y Consultoria de Negocios para empresas y profesionales. Si el manejo financiero de su empresa, le da dolores de cabeza, busque ayuda, delegue a los expertos e incremente las probabilidades de exitos de su negocio!

Invertir en soluciones de consultoría hoy es más barato que fracasar mañana. Ofrecemos 26 años de experiencia en la búsqueda de soluciones creativas y personalizadas para problemas altamente complejos.

¡Ofrecemos una consulta gratuita de 1 hora! Contáctenos 832-998-2136, Soledad@SoledadTanner.com, www.soledadtanner.com 

Para mas informacion, escuche esta entrevista:




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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

¿Como mejorar la utilidad y productividad de su negocio? Radio interview # 10, KYST 920 AM con Irasi Jimenez

Why is it important to evaluate the performance of your company, month by month? Are you afraid to face the financial reality of your business? Would you like an expert to analyze and interpret the results of your business and help you implement improvements to optimize its usefulness?

Soledad Tanner Consulting, LLC offers the service of Business Consulting and Financial Management and Business Consulting for companies and professionals. If the financial management of your company gives you headaches, seek help, delegate the experts and increase the chances of success of your business!

Investing in consulting solutions today is cheaper than failing tomorrow. We offer 26 years of experience in the search for creative and customized solutions for highly complex problems.

We offer a free 1-hour consultation! To make an appointment contact us at: 832-998-2136, Soledad@SoledadTanner.com, www.soledadtanner.com  For more information, listen to this interview.

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Porque es importante evaluar el resultado de su compania, mes a mes? Tiene temor a enfrentarse a la realidad financiera de su negocio? Quisiera que un experto le analize e interprete los resultados de su negocio, lo ayude a implementar mejoras para optimizar su utilidad? 


Soledad Tanner Consulting, LLC le ofrece el servicio de Consultoria de Negocios  y Gerencia financiera y Consultoria de Negocios para empresas y profesionales. Si el manejo financiero de su empresa, le da dolores de cabeza, busque ayuda, delegue a los expertos e incremente las probabilidades de exitos de su negocio!

Invertir en soluciones de consultoría hoy es más barato que fracasar mañana. Ofrecemos 26 años de experiencia en la búsqueda de soluciones creativas y personalizadas para problemas altamente complejos

¡Ofrecemos una consulta gratuita de 1 hora! Para concertar una cita contáctenos en: 832-998-2136, Soledad@SoledadTanner.com, www.soledadtanner.com Para mas informacion, escuche esta entrevista:





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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Closing the Strategy-Execution Gap Means Focusing on What Employees Think, Not What They Do

Most initiatives set up to execute strategy fail to deliver the intended benefits. When it comes to strategy execution, there is a “knowing-doing” gap.

Most executives focus on structure, authority, and process which are “tangible” and easier to demonstrate and measure, but does this approach support a change of attitudes and mindsets? What if we took a truly participative approach? What if there was genuine, inclusive dialogue, engagement and two-way interaction? Participative execution is the antidote to the tyranny of the tangible. 

Executives need to create the space for genuine interaction characterized by curiosity, expression of ideas, inquiry, and experimentation.

Soledad Tanner, M.I.B


Source: https://goo.gl/k2aUNe


By: Alison Reynolds & David Lewis



When you embark on a new strategic journey to sustain and grow your organization in an uncertain world, what do you prioritize? If you’re like most of the leaders we know, you start with organizational structure and processes.

This would be a mistake.

In 2016 we asked 80 senior executives from 20 countries and 25 industries where they focus their attention throughout strategic execution. Their responses overwhelmingly prioritized redefining organizational structures, realigning decision authorities (governance), and reinventing processes.

We then asked what, in their experience, were the biggest barriers to long-term execution — and 76% cited employee interaction. In other words, people failing to work together to make change happen.

This research confirms that when it comes to strategy execution, there is a knowing-doing gap. Executives know the barriers to long-term success are a lack of interaction and collaboration, yet they focus on structure, authority, and process. We set out to explore why.
The Tyranny of the Tangible

Over the last year, we have explored this paradox with groups of senior executives. Without hesitation, their explanation of the knowing-doing gap is: Structure, process, and governance are “tangible” — action there is easier to demonstrate and measure. Not incidentally, that is often what executives’ performance is measured on.


We call this the tyranny of the tangible. And it comes at a cost that is all too familiar: Most initiatives set up to execute strategy fail to deliver the intended benefits. Seventeen percent of large IT projects go so badly that they threaten the very existence of the company; a study of government projects in the UK revealed $4 billion in wasted efforts as a result of failed initiatives.

There is also a human cost. Most people have experienced what happens when strategy execution starts with changes to structure, governance, and process. People resist and become anxious. Will I have a job? Will I lose valued colleagues?Fatigue sets in, morale hits the floor, engagement scores dwindle, and negative narratives circulate about the organization’s ability to manage change.

The fear of creating this very situation, executives explained to us, is why so many of them focus on the tangible instead of the human. Having an open dialogue around important strategic issues simply feels too risky. “We feel like we would lose control,” they told us. “Resistance to our plans would surface.” In fact, psychology and experience tells us, the reverse is true: A lack of genuine, reciprocal interaction and the feeling of imposed change increases employees’ anxiety and resistance.

The theme of control is particularly interesting given the stated aspiration of most organizations to empower their people. The most common chief executive exaltation we hear is “We must be more innovative, agile, and adaptable.” Yet when we engage with executives we find one of the biggest drivers toward the tangible is the fear that without a firm grip anything could happen. We were struck by the dissonance with the ambition — if you want to be more innovative and agile and anything could happen, isn’t that a truly brilliant notion?

The tyranny of the tangible has its roots in a world that offers high degrees of certainty and agreement. Periods of stability, steady growth, consistent margins, and happy customers enable us to manage by predetermined objectives, communicate downward through the hierarchy, and set individual annual performance metrics. Minor variances are controlled through small changes to structure, governance, and process.


It is not surprising, in this deeply established operational mode, that when things need to change drastically, we instinctively reach for and pull harder on the very same levers we have been using to maintain control in more stable times; it’s much like how we would exert more force on the steering wheel in our car should the road become more winding. The problem, of course, is that strategic change begs a very different question — not how do you stay on the same road, but how do you take a new path?
Participative Execution

You do not change attitudes and mindsets by changing structures, governance, and process; you change attitudes and mindsets through genuine engagement and two-way interaction.

To escape the tyranny of the tangible, we encourage leaders to contemplate what would happen if they started with interaction. Instead of seeing formulation and execution as distinct phases, with engagement somewhere in between, what if we took a truly participative approach? What if there was genuine, inclusive dialogue? It might start with why the organization needs a new strategy, continue with what strategic options could be created, and conclude with how to set about making it happen — together. In today’s uncertain, fast-changing world, the idea that a few brilliant brains at the top of the organization, or from a niche consultancy, can define the perfect strategy is ridiculous. The participative approach to strategy execution recognizes that, to remain relevant, the strategy at least in part has to be shaped by the people who need to execute.

And yet executives rarely invite participation. Instead, they embark on a series of broad, one-way communications (for example, town halls or webinars) to share their thinking. Events like those only serve to invite employees to give their views on what has already been proposed. Leaders have done the thinking and come up with the answer — changes to structure, process, and governance. They have made sense of and interpreted the context as they see it and come to a conclusion about what action is needed. Now, they say, it is time to get on with it! The webinar or town hall is just a step toward getting on with it.

The impact of this one-way, directive communication, the focus on the tangible and the fear of losing control, is twofold:
It undermines engagement. Leaders fail to appreciate that they have had far more time to make sense of the context. We all tend to underestimate the time our own journey has taken and overestimate the clarity we now have as a result. When employees raise challenges or questions they risk being labeled as resistors, creating an unhelpful dynamic.
It reduces diverse contribution. When people know or sense that all the important decisions have already been made, they are less likely to share their perspectives, ideas, and worries or take responsibility for outcomes.

People do not change their minds through being told, however open and inclusive the communication may be. When we have skin in the game, reason counts for far less than we might think. It is an oft-forgotten feature of human nature that if you want to influence someone, a good start is to show they have influenced you. If you are open to others, others tend to be open to you. Influence comes through interaction.

Participative execution is the antidote to the tyranny of the tangible. It engages all stakeholders in an interactive and dynamic process in which: The realities of the strategic context are confronted and explored; the options for responding to and shaping the context are created; and the priorities and milestones are agreed upon and revised as required. It makes the intangible tangible and incorporates worries, hopes, fears, and intentions in the process.

Leaders cannot have all the answers. You need to create space for people to make sense and have influence through iterative dialogue. In defining the priorities and milestones through interaction, if it is clear that current structures, governance, or process need to change in support, then you can implement considered changes with agreement and avoid the cost and disruption of knee-jerk changes imposed to eradicate uncertainty.

The lesson: You need to go slow to go fast. You need to create the space for genuine interaction characterized by curiosity, expression of ideas, inquiry, and experimentation. There is more value to be found in exploring an open question than in imposing an answer that cannot be seriously challenged.



Alison Reynolds is a member of faculty at the UK’s Ashridge Business School where she works with executive groups in the field of leadership development, strategy execution and organization development. She has previously worked in the public sector and management consulting, and is an advisor to a number of small businesses and charities.


David Lewis is Director of London Business School’s Senior Executive Programme and teaches on strategy execution and leading in uncertainty. He is a consultant and works with global corporations, advising and coaching board teams. He is co-founder of a research company focusing on developing tools to enhance individual, team and organization performance through better interaction.