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The Dotted Line: Culture and Motivation

45961826a926d3589c843c08_306x220The February 2014 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for creating a culture that motivates. A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

A Culture that Motivates
Corporate culture drives your organization’s performance, so neglecting it – or sending mixed messages – are not options.
The formula is:
1. Values create the culture.
2. Culture drives organizational performance.
3. Improved performance leads to increased employee motivation and satisfaction.
This thoughtful and thorough piece in strategy+business dissects the components of a truly effective culture. The only thing that matters: whether or not the culture you create drives performance.
Netflix’s now-famous company culture deck reveals that excellence is the goal. “We keep improving our culture as we grow. We try to get better at seeking excellence.”
Science of Motivation
In this TED talk, learn what science has proven are the top motivators for employees. (hint: it’s not money)

Then consider whether the culture you have motivates or demoralizes.

Start with Stories
Defining the culture starts with identifying your organization’s values.

Rent the Runway used a storytelling exercise described in the Wall Street Journal to pinpoint its values. Then, it started living them. The subsequent culture shift has dramatically improved employee engagement and retention.

Make the Connection
A Connected Strategy links values to culture, ties culture to performance, and aligns performance to motivation.

A Connect the DOTs Review will jumpstart the process. Inquire today.

The Dotted Line: Organizational Narrative

3c8ecc7f049746d8c70bbd42_306x306The January 2014 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for creating your organization’s narrative. A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

A Story to Tell
Stories spread fast. At lunch tables and cocktail parties, your organizational narrative is being told. Ideally, it’s comprised of inspiring and heartwarming tales of teamwork and innovation that demonstrate how your company is contributing to the greater good of humanity. But if the stories your stakeholders tell are gripe sessions full of vivid examples of redtape and poor leadership, it shouldn’t be a surprise that sales, recruiting and change initiatives are a challenge.

The benefits of creating an organizational narrative extends beyond merely defining your company’s culture (which is very important on its own). The stories also convey the corporate strategy (and make it stick).

Narrative is so powerful that it doesn’t just reflect an organization’s success, it actually dictates it. To revamp your culture or rewrite your destiny, your stories must change.

On the external side, consider replacing spin with a cohesive narrative. Then, watch as audience engagement, brand identity, knowledge sharing and leadership trust skyrocket.

Tips from the Makers of Toy Story
Inject fun and purpose into your stories by following Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling, complete with familiar images from their most beloved films.

Creating “Liquid Content”
Coca-Cola has set out to make its corporate story fluid and linked so that it flows together to create a comprehensive narrative. Their illustrated strategy shows (and tells) how the company will capture and disseminate the stories that touch lives and propel their brands.

Make the Connection
With the right combination of narrative, messaging and engagement, you can have a Connected Strategy.

A Connect the DOTs Review will jumpstart the process. Inquire today.

The Dotted Line 2014 Predictions: Big Data=Big Change

47a50092452b1a0f8e02096e_306x204The December 2013 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for communicating and managing change that is spurred by big data. A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

Big Data = Big Change
Looking into the new year, we see that most every organization plans to leverage their data to improve their business. (It doesn’t take a fortune teller to know this.)

Whether the project uses predictive analytics or regression models, or whether it’s being undertaken by your fastest growing business unit or the logistics department, the results are merely crunched numbers unless the information is acted upon. As a communicator and a leader,  think ahead to the implementation phase, where effective change management will be the difference between a wasted effort and realizing the potential of your data. 

These  10 case studies demonstrate how the $16.1 billion big data market is changing everything – from predicting hit movies, to preventing infections in Haiti.

Just because the data reveals a better path, the organization needs to ask: is it even worth it? MIT Sloan School of Management examined the connection between big data projects and the change management required to implement them.  And yes, sometimes the costs outweigh the benefits.

Data-driven Jargon
“Big data” might just be the most overused word of 2013.

Instead of throwing around the jargon or feeling that “big” is the only way to go, realize that for many organizations, small data is just fine.

Targeting Big Decisions
Target famously has used big data to understand consumer purchasing decisions. But to do so, they had to  change the way their employees made decisions.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Wishing you peace, love, and that all your change management dreams come true.

The Dotted Line: Visual Communications

290235e475f196e78d29b29b_280x232The November 2013 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for communicating visually. A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

Show It, Don’t Just Say It
Motivating action, inspiring change, or creating desire require powerful images. Too often, messaging strategy is thought of only in terms of words. But it matters how those words are presented on the page and the images that accompany them. If visual messaging isn’t part of the plan, you’re missing opportunities to convince, persuade, or influence.

We’ve all experienced powerful visual messages. For instance, when Toronto needed to make the case for a streetcar project opposed by some residents (notably, Mayor Rob Ford), the transit authority posted photos on its Facebook page to illustrate different ways of moving 85 people along the same street. (Take note: the photos only went viral when a blogger turned the pictures into a .gif file.)

Impactful written communications are further aided by research-backed layout and design techniques, like understand how the brain processes information in threes: elements, fonts, and colors. Master these, and your messages are more likely to achieve their objectives. Maybe your content will even go viral.

But if you think you can “make viral content,” you’re wrong. It does not work that way. The science behind the psychological and emotional triggers activated by viral content are laid out, appropriately, in this infograph.

Do-It-Yourself
Infographs capture readers’ imaginations and distill complex topics into manageable bites.

These six online tools will turn your data into a story.

Communicating in a Visual Age
A company that makes printers knows a few things about visual communications.An HP white paper examines how visual communications impact memory, interpretation, and understanding.

An Artful Presentation
There’s finally a cure for Death by PowerPoint: Prezi. The founder of PowerPoint calls this easy and beautiful tool: “a marvelous approach to the visualization of information.”

To experience Prezi in action, view The Power of a Connected Strategy.

The Dotted Line: Strategic Planning and Purpose

206210de6355a3eb04e463b2_280x186The October 2013 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for planning your strategy and communicating your purpose. A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

Linking Plans to Purpose
It’s strategic planning season and you’re up to your eyeballs in forecasts, trend reports and competitive analyses. Once the planning is done, the 2014 kick-offs come in quick succession, then it’s time to execute.

Looping employees into strategic planning will help make their wishes come true and will keep you on the nice list.

But plans, vision and strategy aren’t enough. Clarity is essential because “if the intent of these plans isn’t aligned with the communication, people may be impressed, but deep down inside, they will not believe in those plans or act on them.”

If you’re sick of working on your 2014 plans, Mental Floss is always good for a break. Relax by taking a moment to consider your Halloween giveaway strategy. (Kids who hike up my steep driveway will be rewarded with glow sticks and full-sized chocolate bars.)

Personal Purpose
You don’t have to wait until your next life to find purpose and meaning for your career and business. Just listen to the Trappist monks and this successful entrepreneur.

No Purpose? That’s a Problem.
An organization without a defined purpose is funny, but only if it’s the fictional Dunder Mifflin.

A Deloitte study demonstrates that companies with a strong sense of purpose find more success, while those without purpose are directionless and apathetic.

Putting it Together
During planning season, a Connected Strategy:

– inspires, motivates and guides behavior all year
– fulfills the brand promise
– reminds everyone of the higher purpose

We can help you Connect the DOTs.

The Dotted Line: Authentic Leadership and Branding

9ce9d11aaed145e8d9ba9723_280x280The September 2013 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for being an authentic leader. A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

Authenticity in Leadership & Branding
Being genuine starts with alignment between your strategy and rhetoric. Whether you are the manager of hundreds or the CEO of your cubicle, connecting your intent with your words and actions will increase your effectiveness by building trust and loyalty. 
Leaders who hold tight to their internal compass can’t help but convey their authenticity. At a personal level, you don’t have to brand yourself; you just have to be yourself.

Most companies strive to incorporate authenticity in their image because it’s a basic tenet of the brand promise.

But not always. Buzzfeed compiled a list of 12 brands that aren’t who you think they are. In reality, manufactured authenticity has limited success, just like these brands.

Choose Your Words Carefully
Language is “an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought,” said George Orwell in his seminal piece  On Politics and the English Language.

When Story Meets Reality
Under Armour’s popularity exploded only after its story was told.

When UA’s existing products and technology were matched with marketing that echoed its true essence, a new sports apparel category was created (and so were a lot of people calling themselves “athletes”.)

Putting it Together
For leaders and brands, a Connected Strategy:
– creates consistency
– fulfills the brand promise
– elevates the thoughts and actions of individuals to a higher purpose
and more…

We can help you Connect the DOTs.

The Dotted Line: Leadership Transitions

301b37baa8f5043b3786bc94_306x243The August 2013 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for making a leadership transition. A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

New Leader, New Message
Shareholders, employees, customers and partners are accustomed to seeing leaders come and go. Expectations are always high, and it’s up to the new leader to set the right tone from the beginning.
In recent years, CEOs have learned that publicly releasing the welcome letter to employees is a way to lay the foundation for a smooth hand-over of responsibilities.  Jeff Bezos, in his optimistic note to Washington Post employees, promises to uphold the traditions so dear to the newsroom staff and readership.
Even if the note to employees wasn’t meant for wide distribution, wise communicators know that in high-profile cases, the letter is likely to be leaked.  While the world watched Yahoo! to see what direction Marissa Mayer would take the company, she advised employees to “keep moving”.

Meanwhile, CEOs like Andrew Mason of Groupon have used their exit letters to set the record straight and clear the way for the next leader.

Striking a Balance
Great leaders have learned that certain pivot points create rhythm and balance, especially when change is underway.

These five key skills make transitions more tolerable for everyone.

Leadership Transition Manual
Nowhere are changes in command more common than in the military. In this system, leadership training and development is a science and lives depend on the success of the new commander.

The U.S. Army handbook for efficient and effective leadership transition is a step-by-step guide applicable to any organization or company.

Putting it Together
For newly formed leadership teams, a Connected Strategy:
– sets the tone for going forward
– links a proud legacy to a bright future
– provides short-term direction while a strategy is under development

We can help you Connect the DOTs.

The Dotted Line: Communicating Strategy

248c015219d72dfe8bb22672_299x169The July 2013 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for creating a culture of innovation. A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

Communicating Strategy
When everyone knows and understands their role in your strategy, it’s easier to unite every stakeholder behind a common cause. The knowing is achieved when leaders consistently communicate. The understanding is achieved when managers listen to direct reports and appeal to their personal interests.
Although strategy usually comes from the top, it’s possible to create a shared vision with your team.
Regardless of where the strategy originates, the best leaders genuinely care about employees’ individuals goals. Corporate magic happens when everyone’s hopes and wishes are aligned. Fast Company says it pays to help your employees dream big.Throw a Theme Party

Think of your strategy as a theme party. Whether applying it to your supply chain or any other business area, the strategy helps you prioritize and organize seemingly disparate initiatives.Strategy During Crisis
To rally the troops during tough times, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman patiently repeated the business strategy. She admitted this was her least favorite part of the job, but also the most effective way to drive performance.

Consistent messaging was key, she explains in this short video from Fortune.

Putting it Together
For your stakeholders, a Connected Strategy:
– is the theme for your most important initiatives
– provides a solid foundation amidst uncertainty
– points everyone in the same direction

We can help you Connect the DOTs.

The Dotted Line: Leading Change

64903e1e3c57356e63a26491_306x229The June 2013 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for leading change. A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

Change
Want real change? The first thing to shift is the way you lead and manage it.
The CEO of Samsung kicked off a major change initiative by taking hammers and a bonfire to $50 million worth of products. The employees cried, but then they helped transform the company from a maker of cheap electronics to that of an innovation powerhouse that develops curved TVs and cuts “genius” deals with Jay-Z.

You might not need to be as dramatic as the Samsung executives, but recognize how the change is viewed from different perspectives and realize that we’ve been complaining about how fast everything moves for at least 140 years.

Leading Change
Change occurs when many individuals  regularly act in a new way.

As this excerpt from Leading Successful Change: 8 Keys to Making Change Work, by Gregory P. Shea and Cassie A. Solomon explains, focus on behaviors and the environment.

Change Avoidance
Change is always optional. Ask the company that produced the first color movies in 1922 (if you’ve never seen this footage, it’s a must-watch).

Ninety years later, Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Going from innovative leader to complacent follower was ultimately a failure to change when the company needed it most.

Strategy
When initiating change, a Connected Strategy:
– unites actions with purpose
– provides a solid foundation amidst uncertainty
– reassures stakeholders

and more…

The Dotted Line: Government Relations and Engagement

dot gov - government internet domainThis issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for creating a government relations program that increases employee engagement.  A full version is available online. Subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox.

Government Relations
State and federal policies that impact your business also personally affect your employees (but they might not know it). The tools of government relations – education, advocacy, political action committees (PACs) and thought leadership – can be leveraged to increase employee engagement.
At a time when voters feel more disconnected from their elected officials than ever, why not create a government relations program that engages employees in the political process and in the issues that matter most to the company?

Employees aren’t just your best brand ambassadors, they are also your best advocates. This study from Melcrum details how some of the smartest companies empower employees to be both.

Engagement
Assess the degree of engagement present in your organization with this short quiz.

A connected government relations program could help you boost the score.

Exemplary Public Affairs
The best practice, exhibited by Shell, is to start with a clearly defined legislative agenda,  then find a variety of ways for employees to participate.

Reputation, legislative impact and employment engagement collide in this robust program.

Strategy
When interacting with government officials, a Connected Strategy:
– puts a face on your business concerns
– empowers employees to become advocates
– aligns internal and external messages

and more…

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