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Announcing eConsulting and eCoaching

Starting today, I am offering a direct consulting/coaching service – one-on-one with me personally, via email – to a limited number of people.

Read more about the program at trustedadvisor.com/econsulting

All the detail is contained at trustedavisor.com/econsulting, but here are a few FAQs:

FAQs

Q. How does it work?

A. Up to one email interchange per day between you personally, and me, Charlie Green, for 8 weeks.

Q. What do you mean, you, personally? Doesn’t your team develop the answers?

A. Oh no. I mean me, Charlie Green, 100%, personally, individually, writing every email response with my own key-tapping fingers. Me. No one else.

Q. Is this a replacement for your existing coaching offerings?

A. No. We continue to offer excellent traditional coaching services through Stewart Hirsch. This is via email, more concentrated, more transactional, more action-based; read the full eConsulting page for more insight.

Q. Who is it for?

A. People who want very fast, very practical, very personalized advice on specific situations from me personally. Got a key client meeting or sales call coming up in two days? That’s what this is for. It’s all in the full eConsulting page.

Q. How many openings are there?

A. A one-digit number of slots; this will take time, and I’m not giving up my day job.

Q. How much does it cost?

A. Read through the full eConsulting page; it’s there, I promise you.

Trusted Advisor? Or Just Not a Crook?

The term “trusted advisor” has been around a long time.  Recently I wrote about how the phrase has undergone “trusted advisor inflation” and become far more casually used.

When Maister, Galford and I wrote the book The Trusted Advisor back in 2001, one of our aims was to debunk the idea that trust was mainly about competence, credentials and cognition. We said:

..becoming a good advisor takes more than having good advice to offer. There are additional skills involved, ones that no one ever teaches you, that are critical to your success…you don’t get the chance to employ advisory skills until you can get someone to trust you enough to share their problems with you.

The theme of this book is that the key to professional success is not just technical mastery of one’s discipline (which is, of course, essential), but also the ability to work with clients in such a way as to earn their trust and gain their confidence.

We went on to say:

The trusted advisor is the person the client turns to when an issue first arises, often in times of great urgency, a crisis, a change, a triumph or a defeat.

Issues at this level are no longer just seen as organizational problems, but also involve a personal dimension. Becoming a trusted advisor, the pinnacle level, requires an integration of content expertise with organizational and interpersonal skills.

That was then (2001). To my astonishment, it appears that not everyone in the world has read our book and committed it to memory. (Imagine that.)

Thin Trust

That’s not the way a lot of the world has come to use the term “trusted advisor.” The following quotes are taken from current promotional literature:

Full disclosure of conflicting interests is the only way to build and keep trust with your clients.

For decades, CPAs in public practice have laid a foundation of trust with clients by competently handling confidential financial data and performing core services such as tax preparation.

There has been much talk about how accountants should embrace value based, business improvement services so that they can step up and truly embrace their trusted advisor status. Yet little has been written on how to go about doing that in a way that sits firmly within the accountant’s heartland – the numbers.

A trusted adviser offering objective solutions in wealth structuring based on XYZ Research and industry leading global resources…who understands clients’ specific investment needs, structure and area of interest…the trusted advisor is complemented with a team of financial experts and corporate resources.

As your trusted advisor, XYZ delivers a wealth strategy service to manage the financial complexities in your life.

Your loan closing is just the beginning of our relationship.  Annual mortgage reviews and rate watches are just a few of the benefits XYZ provides to their clients.   That is why __ will not only be your mortgage Planner, but your Trusted Advisor as well.

I’m deliberately not providing links here because I’m not trying to embarrass anyone, but rather to make a simple point: the idea of a “trusted advisor” as synonymous with nothing more than competence, credentials and procedural compliance clearly lives on.

Who should you trust? According to these views, someone who’s been vetted by the industry, many will tell you. How will you know you can trust them? By the number of letters after their name, or by the stress tests they’ve passed. Or in some cases, by the way they are paid (via fees, rather than transactional commissions).

Let’s be clear: basing trustworthiness on whether or not one structurally faces financial temptation is a pretty low hurdle. It reminds me of Nixon’s famous utterance, “I am not a crook.”

Barring someone from temptation doesn’t create deep trust in them. While avoiding conflict of interest is a good thing, it’s entry-level stuff.  We reserve deeper trust for those who face temptation, and who nonetheless rise above it through ethics and character.

The bar for being a trusted advisor is higher than not being a crook, being competent, and passing industry equivalents of drug tests.

Reclaiming Trust

A few years ago, we wrote a White Paper: If You Think Competency Sells, Think Again. In it we provided research proving what Maister, Galford and I had claimed a decade earlier: that the dominant factors driving trustworthiness are not competence, business acumen and procedural rigor.

The more powerful drivers of trustworthiness are, in fact, the ‘softer’ side of things: the “intimacy” and “other-orientation” factors we identified in the trust equation.

It may have become fashionable to deny it, but human wiring has not changed in the last decade; we are still prone to trust those we feel secure confiding in, and those whom we feel have our best interests at heart.

They’re only beginning to teach that at business schools (Bill George is an exception). And you will not find it by mastering documented procedures or by improving your business acumen.

 

Trusted Advisor Inflation

The term “trusted advisor” has undergone some changes since I first co-wrote the book by that title 11 years ago.  Three changes, to be precise:

  1. It’s amazing how many more people claim to be one;
  2. It’s becoming clear that not every industry needs one;
  3. In the industries and functions that matter, the concept is gaining headway.

It’s the third point that’s most important, and most promising.

1. Grade Inflation, Title Inflation, Trusted Advisor Inflation

The United States has taken to heart Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon, where “all the children are above average.” That’s got to be the only sensible conclusion from the data, which show in-your-face grade inflation at the college and university level.

A couple of years ago, the Economist proclaimed that “Inflation in Job Titles is Approaching Weimar Levels.” (In case you’re not down with economist jokes, read here, and I won’t tell anyone).

So I guess it’s no wonder that we have “Trusted Advisor inflation.” I’ve sat in on several corporate training programs lately where generally mid-level attendees were asked to indicate whether they were operating at the “trusted advisor” level with their clients.

About 70% said they were. That may not be Weimar territory, but it’s Lake Wobegon for sure. I will tell you from experience: that was not the case 12 years ago, even in the same industries.

My conclusion? Not much, actually. We live in a post-Warholian age of hyperbole. “Friend” doesn’t mean what it used to, nor do “authenticity,” “talent,” or “good audio,” for that matter.  But it’s OK: it means what it means, namely how people actually use the term. Definitions are living things, captured only momentarily in dictionaries.

2. Not Every Industry Needs a Trusted Advisor

I had dinner the other day with an old classmate, a very senior advisor to a Very Big private equity fund, who keeps tabs on a dozen global retail clients. “So Charlie, tell me what’s up with Trusted Advisor Associates these days,” he said.

It was clear from his tone that he was skeptical about the relevance of the concept to his businesses – mainly B2C consumer-level chains in things like pet foods, electronics and sundries.

I could tell that because he visibly relaxed when I said, “Gary, I don’t need a trusted advisor relationship with the counter-guy at Dunkin’ Donuts. I love that he knows my order when he sees me come in – but that’s quite enough. It would ruin everything if we ever got past, ‘hi guy, the usual?’ And ditto for Starbucks.”

It’s true. There are whole bunches of roles and industries that don’t need to have trusted advisor relationships. Most B2C retail doesn’t need it. Traders don’t need it. Marketers don’t generally need it. Most non-client-facing roles don’t need it. Manufacturing roles don’t generally need it.

That’s not to say all those roles can’t benefit from the basics of curiosity, good values and manners. But, as per point 1 – let’s not inflate that into Trusted Advisor Status.

3. Those That Do Need It – Are Starting To See It

The term “trusted advisor” originated in high-end professional services and wealth management relationships and it’s still valid and well-understood there.

The biggest shifts I’ve seen since the original The Trusted Advisor in 2001 have come in four areas: sales, internal staff functions, leadership and the financial industry. (One industry that’s still a work-in-progress – pharma).

Sales. In the last decade or so, the field of sales has undergone a number of changes. Some – like Salesforce.com, Sales 2.0, Google clicks – have often made the function less personal, and arguably less trustworthy.

But others – like inbound marketing, complex sales, and the amazing transparency machine called the Internet – have made selling more personal, and often more trustworthy.

I like to think my own book, Trust-based Selling, published by McGraw-Hill in 2005, played a little role in that too.

Internal Staff Functions. The Big 5 staff functions – HR, IT, Legal, Marketing, and Finance ­– have made large jumps in many companies to realizing that their internal client relationships have exactly the same needs. How to get invited in before problems arise; how to get your advice taken; how to add value – these are all critical functions for an internal staff function. More about those functions here.

Leadership. Tons of things have changed with leadership. Let’s sum it up by saying leadership has become more horizontal, less vertical. That moves influence, persuasion and trust way up the required skills list for leaders.  Rob Galford wrote about that in 2003 in The Trusted Leader; Andrea Howe and I wrote about it in last year’s The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust.

Financial Industry. Something is happening in the financial planning and wealth management industries. The line between brokers and fiduciaries is finally getting defined, and the balance of power seems to be shifting toward trusted advisor, client-focused relationships. (Some of you know this issue as fiduciary vs. suitability).

The issue is delightfully defined in a YouTube video about the difference between your butcher and your dietitian.  For more on this issue, read Michael Kitces, who writes well and often about it.

Just around the industry corner is Wall Street, investment banking, and the flap about Michael Smith’s Goldman resignation. Investment banking used to be a pure trusted advisor kind of business. People like Epicurean Dealmaker still speak eloquently about that part of the business.

But investment banks have more complex business models these days, and it’s far from clear (to me anyway) that all of those businesses should be built on the long-term, client-centric models required by true trusted advisors.

Conclusions:

1. Just because you think you’re a trusted advisor doesn’t mean you are one – Lake Wobegon is mythical, after all.

2. But neither does it necessarily mean you should be one. We don’t need trusted advisors on every street corner.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and we should leave it at that.

Trust Tip Video: Say “I Don’t Know”

It’s one of the most common problems we all face in business – in sales, in customer relationships, in working with teams.  You’re in the hot seat, on the spot: someone asks you a tough question – and you’re really not sure of the answer.

What do you do?

That’s the subject of my Trust-Tip Video of the week.

My advice probably won’t surprise you – Say You Don’t Know. But you might not expect some of the reasons.

(If you have trouble seeing the video, click here)

If you like the video series, and if you like our occasional eBooks, why not subscribe to make sure you get both? Every 2-4 weeks we send you selected high-quality content.  Another eBook mailing is scheduled for next week.

To subscribe, click here, or go to http://bit.ly/trust-subscribe

It’s all about Tools that Work – For Your Work.

How to Create a Culture of Trust

We’re pleased to announce the release of our latest eBook: How to Create a Culture of Trust.

It’s the sixth in the new Trusted Advisor Fieldbook series by Charles H. Green and Andrea P. Howe.

Each eBook provides a snapshot of content from The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, which is jam-packed with practical, hands-on strategies to dramatically improve your results in sales, relationship management, and organizational performance.

How to Create a Culture of Trust reveals:

  • Two key levers: virtues and values
  • The difference that leading from principles makes
  • The biggest trust-destroyer in an organization

P.S. Did you miss out on Volumes 1 through 5 of The Fieldbook eBook series? Get them while they’re still available:

    1. 15 Ways to Build Trust…Fast!
    2. How to Sell to the C-Suite
    3. Six Risks You Should Take to Build Trust
    4. How YOU Can Raise Trust in Your Organization
    5. The Dos and Don’ts of Trust-Based Networking

Take a look and let us know what you think.

Books We Trust: True North Groups, By Bill George

This is the seventh in a series called Books We Trust.

Bill George is author (with Peter Sims) of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership. Part of the J-B Warren Bennis series, it has been widely read and praised. In his new book, True North Groups, he (with co-author Doug Baker) focuses on how True North precepts can get established for people and organizations.

Bill George is another small-town Midwesterner who made it (very) big. After punching his ticket in the McNamara Defense Department days, he eventually spent a decade each with Litton Industries, Honeywell, and Medtronic (where he was CEO).

These days he teaches leadership at Harvard Business School and serves on the Board of several Very Big companies. Click to his bio; you’ll be impressed.

Bill does not waste time; we got right into it.

Capitalism: Back to the Future

Trusted Advisor Associates: Bill, after your MBA, you spent decades in big-business companies that worked closely with government. How did you feel watching the progression of Milton Friedman, Michael Jensen, Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, and the doctrine of shareholder value—an ideology that pitted business against government?

Bill George: Michael Jensen has recanted; he’s writing about ontological leadership with Werner Erhard. Greenspan admitted the flaw in that ideology.

There’s been a total transformation. We have collectively realized the flaws in those old simplistic economic theories; this notion that people are motivated only by self-interest, this is simply not true. Mike Porter is another one, a brilliant guy who is now writing about shared value, not shareholder value.

There is a transformation in business right now of major companies moving away from that old paradigm.

Take Alan Mullally at Ford; he’s changing things there right down to the individual employee level. He is focusing on the long term, on sustainability.

Corporate CEOs today are the best I’ve seen, the best in my lifetime. Besides Mullally at Ford, there’s Palmisano at IBM. Steve Jobs rightly got a lot of credit. All the CEOs I know are moving away from shareholder value to values and vision. Paul Polman at Unilever says, ‟My job is not to serve the shareholder, but to serve the customer.”

TAA: That’s pretty optimistic. What do you think happened?

Bill: It’s just what’s happening, that’s all. These things only happen when you come to realize we were going the wrong way. Think Enron; that was a hugely emblematic event…there were 100 large companies with very large “accounting” problems.

You get a raft of major companies like BMS with a $1.5B accounting adjustment, and that’s not an accounting problem—that’s a failure of leadership. This went way beyond a few crooks; this was a business disaster.

But we’ve seen that. Outside Wall Street, there are a lot of really big companies that are just done thinking that way. Not going back.

Wall Street and Washington

TAA: What about Wall Street?

Bill: Wall Street never ceased. The problem is maximizing short term shareholder value―that’s the best way to go out of business. So it’s really not surprising Wall Street melted down.

Regarding Wall Street, I’m a wait and see guy. There are all new CEOs on Wall Street now―Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein are the old guys. The new folks are the ones who’ll have to make the call. A guy like Paulson can make $4B selling things short; that’s legal, he does it fair and square, but let’s not kid ourselves that’s value creation—it’s not.

TAA: What about Washington?

Bill: I’d like to see them lead, but we’ve got to take it out of the political arena: we’re just not going to get there via the politicians. They’re more interested in the parochial, ideological interests.

And that’s the greatest sin. We in business lost sight of why we were in business, lost track of the role of leadership in the first place.

Toyota and J&J took their eyes off the ball. Ford’s now beating Toyota, because Toyota took its eye off the long-term, culture/quality ball. And Ford rediscovered it.

I was on the board of Novartis. They always focused on a breakthrough drug to solve unmet patient needs―a drug that is going to advance medicine. Look at Ken Frazier at Merck, Pfizer vs. Merck, he’s pushed to keep up the level of R&D spending. Pfizer’s done the exact opposite. The short-termers keep citing Net Present Value as the driver of short-term focus, but the truth is they don’t know how to do the math right.

[CHG: An aside—read this WSJ article from February 4 of this year detailing Bill’s point: when the two companies announced their opposite strategies, the market drove Merck stock down 2.7%, while Pfizer saw its stock rise by 5.2%. That’s an 8% spread because of announced strategies.

Today, 8 months later, try comparing the two companies’ stock prices; they are back to dead even; the gap is gone. But Merck has the advantage of a tailwind in its R&D momentum; Pfizer gave it up.]

Leadership and True North

TAA: Let’s talk about leadership and bring it back to True North Groups. What should leadership be about?

Bill: Back in the day, HP was just a great company. Dave Packard totally practiced MBWA, management by walking around, a truly humble guy. Four successive CEOs now have gone the wrong way. Leadership matters greatly.

The key issue now is that the leaders’ job is not to exert power, but to empower people, including those who have no direct reports. You have to have an empowered group of employees that are excited about mission and values. If you only bring your head to work, you cut yourself off at the neck; if that’s all you can bring to the game, I’d love to compete with you.

The key issue in leadership is not to develop the next CEO, it’s to develop leaders all over the place. It’s not about developing a few good people at the top, but working on 10,000 or more.

The question is how to develop those leaders: you can’t do it through the old Darwinian GE model. Not everyone should be focused on getting Jeff Immelt’s job. That is just not where the traction is.

That’s where True North groups come in. Turns out that the best way to truly develop individual leadership capabilities is in small groups, made up of peers, of people who tell life stories, where people can find out who they really are. Because if they lead life as a fraud, thinking they’re impressing the world, it won’t work.

Steve Jobs’ most powerful message was to be who you are. Don’t let others’ opinions—Wall Street, recruiters—rob you of the courage to follow your heart. They used to snicker at me at Harvard Business School when I talked like that, but they don’t today.

TAA: How do you find a True North Group, and how do they get it right?

Bill: We found it happens in small groups. You see the success of this small-group phenomenon in affinity groups—AA, the YPO, breast cancer survivor groups, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church—read Malcolm Gladwell’s explanation of it.

We tried to take this to people who don’t have an affinity group like that; people in business—what are they supposed to do? A great way to define a True North group is to ask yourself, “If I found out I was going to die, who would I talk to?” That’s your group.

TAA: What is it that True North Groups do?

Bill: If you buy the premise that we have to help develop people, this is the way to do it. You don’t go to Wimbledon to play tennis—you start years before. You don’t learn leadership by reading, you learn it by doing it—by living it, and talking about it. And then you need a way to process that.

There are several things we write about in the book that are critical to True North Groups’ success; I’ll highlight a few. One is non-judgmental feedback.The courage to tell it like it is—not ‘brutally,’ because that would come with judgment. Just speaking the truth, straight-up.

TAA: This is not leadership development ala Jack Welch’s GE.

Bill: A lot of people still want to use leadership development as a selection process; the big boss comes in and watches a while and says this guy’s good, that guy’s not.

Instead, you’ve got to have confidentiality and peers. This is a little hard for the leadership development people; a lot of them still like bringing people to Crotonville, but that’s too expensive.

You know the one thing we heard from leaders we interviewed? Loneliness. They’re alone. That’s true for middle managers too—the sandwich phenomenon, pushed from both ends. What’s the treatment for loneliness? A group.

People want to know, can I be real in the workplace? Is it OK? A group deals with that.

Making It Happen

TAA: You’ve actually influenced the Harvard Business School to do this, right?

Bill: My course on leadership uses small groups of 6 people. Half your time in this course is spent in authentic leadership development this way. 1,500 HBS students have gone through it—1,100 or so MBAs, and another several hundred from exec ed programs. About half your credit is for hanging out in that small group.

TAA: How well does it go over?

Bill: Neo-classical economists don’t get it, and neither do Wall Streeters—for the most part. Yet. But the rest do. It is quite significant that the Harvard Business School appointed Nitin Nohria as Dean. [Readers might also enjoy an early TrustMatters blogpost on the MBA Oath].

TAA: How does this play out for you?

Bill: Here’s the irony: all my life I’ve seen myself as a leader—because people followed me. Now I realize, that’s not what it’s about at all. It’s about empowering others.

I get to talk to all these great leaders—Mullally, and so on. I tell them all, ‘Just call me, let’s talk.’ Because we all need that. No charge, of course; we just talk.

TAA: This has been great. I will try and organize these notes into a coherent whole, and run them by you so you get the final word.

Bill: Nah, don’t worry about that. Just print it up.

 [CHG: And so that’s what I did.  If there were any mistakes made in summarizing our talk, I guarantee you they’re mine].

Impressions: An American in Denmark

It’s good for us Americans to travel—our views of foreigners come from our own little echo chambers filled with little real data. I’ve traveled to Denmark several times, though I wouldn’t say I know the country well.  Still, I’d like to share a few of my impressions from this past week’s trip.

The American geography sobriety test.

Socialist Economy.

Creativity—The cloth/paper carryall-bag.

Innovation–Cell phone Parking Meters.

Street-ready wheelchairs.

The Resistance Museum.

 
The American geography sobriety test. My U.S. brethren (and I) are often a little vague about points on the world map, much less their relative distances from each other. Try this test:  answers at the end.

  • Distance from Copenhagen to Rome
  • Distance from Copenhagen to Hammerfest, Norway
  • Distance from Copenhagen to Moscow
  • Distance from Copenhagen to Madrid
  • And, just for kicks, the population of Denmark

 
Socialist Economy.  My guess is that the average American thinks of Denmark as a “socialist” country.  Yet one Dane tells me, “I find that amusing; Danes would not consider our government or our economy socialist as such—we just (mostly happily) pay high taxes.”

According to the OECD:

US                        Denmark

GDP per capita                         $46,860               $55,986

Taxes as % GDP                        24.0%                     48.2%

Obesity rate                                30.6%                       9.5%

Divorce rate/ 1000 ppl            4.95                           2.81

Crimes/person                           80.1                         92.8

Murder w. guns/million ppl       30                           3

Life expectancy                           78.3                        78.3

 
CreativityThe cloth/paper carryall-bag. Your average American may believe that “socialist” economies sap the creative energy out of people. A moment’s reflection about Danish furniture (Americans well know the name Dansk) should give pause to that idea, but if not, here’s another.

I snapped this picture of a little bag they gave you at a coffee shop.  It feels half-paper, half-cloth.  It comes in packages of maybe 50, like paper napkins. Like a napkin, it lies flat on the counter.

But unlike a napkin, it’s cleverly slit—like a shark’s gills—so that when you pull up the edges, it becomes a 3-D bag, amazingly strong enough to carry several cups of coffee and various pastries.

 
Cell phone parking meters. Too artsy for you?  How about this…an entrepreneur struck a deal with the national government to combine GPS devices and a national database to bypass parking meters.

You find a parking place, text the service (which then determines the parking zone in which you’ve parked), enter the time you’ll be parking—and go on about your business. If you decide to stay an hour longer, no need to run down and get coins to feed the meter—just dial up and add an hour. The parking cops know you’ve paid—because they’ve got online access too.

No broken meters. No scrounging up coins or a credit card to buy a piece of paper, no going back to your car to put it in the windshield. Try picturing that in the U.S. Or in Manhattan. Heck, even just Syracuse. I don’t think so.

 
Street-ready Wheelchairs. Along with the Saabs and Audis and Citroens, you can see some fairly hefty wheelchairs moving along in the street in the right-turn lane. Not in the sidewalk, but out in the lane, not unlike bicycles (of which there are tons, of course).

I’m not sure what to make of it, just interesting.  Along with no obese people; I’m talking, none. Zero. Whatever they’re eating, we should too. (Me, I love herring!).

Or maybe we should exercise like the Danes. They walk like crazy, everywhere, have great posture, are slender, and very athletic.  Many smoke too, but only in moderation; the smokers also walk like crazy. They treat cigarettes like we treat espresso—a few a day.

 
The Resistance Museum. Maybe it’s my age, but I find history to be very helpful in understanding a country’s psyche. (If you get to Singapore, check out the National Museum of Singapore, you’ll understand Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore much better.)

In Copenhagen, I stumbled across the Resistance Museum. During World War II, Nazi Germany basically held a gun to the leaders Denmark in order to gain access to Norway.  With a population one-tenth the size of Germany and essentially no military, the Danes had little choice.  Their government agreed to be occupied by the Nazis, and yet be officially neutral. There are those who considered it collaboration; after August 1943, all cooperation officially came to an end.

The museum explains well this neutrality, as well as a real and significant Resistance. See for example the stories of The Torch and the Lemon, two courageous Resistance leaders.

When the Nazis threatened to round the Jews up, a great many Danes took serious risks to ferry the entire Jewish population across the sound to Sweden in just 10 days. The support was grassroots—as the word spread, people called up strangers with Jewish-sounding names in the phonebook to warn them.

When you occupy a border with the nation who invaded you and killed some of your citizens, you have some baggage to deal with. Younger Danes are quite forgiving and feel the Germans have punished themselves enough.  Older Danes make a distinction between the Nazis and the Germans, and seem to have come to terms with it in their daily lives.  But one senses they also have not forgotten.

Spending time in cultures other than our own is always enriching.  I find it also makes it easier to trust people.

One of the better things we Americans could do for ourselves and for the world is to loosen up on our restrictions toward tourism and immigration into the US; and also to invest in sending 100,000 high school students per year to a foreign country. That would go a long way in getting us outside our little echo chambers.
Answers to the American geography sobriety test:

  • Copenhagen to Rome: 952 miles
  • Copenhagen to Hammerfest, Norway: 1089 miles
  • Copenhagen to Moscow: 968 miles
  • Copenhagen to Madrid: 1289 miles
  • Population of Denmark: 5,529,270

The Dos and Don’ts of Trust-Based Networking

We’re pleased to announce the release of our latest eBook: The Dos and Don’ts of Trust-Based Networking.

It’s the fifth in the new Trusted Advisor Fieldbook series by Charles H. Green and Andrea P. Howe.

Each eBook provides a snapshot of content from The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, which is jam-packed with practical, hands-on strategies to dramatically improve your results in sales, relationship management, and organizational performance.

The Dos and Don’ts of Trust-Based Networking reveals:

  • How trust-based networking is different from every-day business networking
  • Ten best practices for trust-based networking
  • Specific dos and don’ts for online networking

P.S. Did you miss out on Volumes 1 through 4 of The Fieldbook eBook series? Get them while they’re still available:

  1. 15 Ways to Build Trust…Fast!
  2. How to Sell to the C-Suite
  3. Six Risks You Should Take to Build Trust
  4. How YOU Can Raise Trust in Your Organization

Take a look and let us know what you think.

P.P.S. There are just three weeks until the release of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook. Receive a free Trust Quotient diagnostic ($30 value) when you pre-order The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook before October 31, 2011 midnight EST. Send your receipt to bookoffer@trustedadvisor.com. We’ll send you access to discover your trust strengths and weaknesses.

DRUMROLL PLEASE…Announcing Our Licensee in Scandinavia: Garde Inc.

Business is global. Culture is local. And trust is universally needed to do business in today’s increasingly impersonal world. So, it is with delight that I announce our new affiliate in Scandinavia, Garde Inc.

We met with the amazing folks of Garde Inc., a newly formed consulting firm, at one of our trainings in London earlier this year, and were blown away by the level of intelligence, energy and insight these folks bring to their work. All experienced consultants, they work to bring organizations both the knowledge to change minds and the practices to change behaviors–and all this shows up on their clients’ bottom lines. Garde Inc. brings the trusted advisor perspective into their consulting areas of Product, Projects and Process.

“Garde Inc. is a consulting firm specializing in behavior, execution and results. We help ambitious clients move from plans and talk to behavior and results. We help you get there faster and more efficiently.”

Their inspirations:

In Europe? Doing business in Europe? I urge you to give them a call:

Kristen Bernikows Gade 6

DK-1105 Copenhagen, Denmark

T: +45 2488 8608

info@gardeinc.com

 

Making a Trusted Advisor of the Procurement Function

The procurement function in an organization can play an important role—potentially both strategic and advisory. It can also, however, be dragged down into petty negativism. It’s in everyone’s interest to get it right.

Getting it right is the subject of a new article by the two of us, called The Role of Procurement as Trusted Advisor to Management. Link to a.pdf version here.

Following is a quick overview.

Procurement as Strategic Partner

Ideally, a firm’s procurement function helps broadly. Of course it manages the buying of commodity stuff cheaply.  It should also design good overall purchasing processes.  But ultimately it should also help an organization invest its expenditures wisely.

That last is a mandate most CPOs and CEOs alike would welcome—in principle. But they rarely get there, because procurement gets bogged down in a classic trust conflict: the conflict between transactions and relationships.

Procurement has pushed hard to attract brighter and better staff, but capability is not enough.  A genuine understanding of and concern for clients’ ambitions and goals is needed: procurement needs to be benevolent as well as capable in the way it works with clients.

The Transaction Trap

Most organizations measure procurement by how much they can cut cost.  This simple fact—the focus on cost savings as a metric—has outsized influence.  It means discussions are always about price—but not value.  Expenses—but not expenditures.  Cuts—but not contexts.

The cost savings focus drives procurement to excessively favor market-based, impersonal processes—which too often prevent the value of trusted relationships with suppliers. The transactional focus implied by cost metrics also favors explicit contracting, rather than the constructive use of implicit contracts on occasion.

This focus also leads to destructive gaming: you can’t prove savings if you’ve already cut the source of waste by strategically redefining processes, hence procurement organizations are tempted to “squirrel away” savings to appear the biggest.  The cost focus also means that purchasing’s clients know that ‘savings’ just means their budget is going to get cut.

The whole ‘savings’ focus drives dysfunctional, non-strategic behavior by everyone.  And it’s gotten worse since 2009: CPOs and CEOs alike, in a bad economic environment, have said, “Just go find some savings.”

The Trust Cure

It’s not often that we should start with metrics instead of strategy, but this may be the cart that should drive the horse.  Instead of focusing so extremely on cost savings, we suggest procurement focus on a Spend Control Index.  Details will vary by organization, but the gist of it is a unified scorecard that makes procurement accountable for all external spend—based on revenue, adjusted for items like salaries, interest, and above all, linked directly to strategic decisions.

Such an approach is easily linked to strategy; it enhances strategy implementation; and it is easily auditable. Most importantly, it allows for reframing of discussions between management and procurement; allowing the latter to behave like a trusted advisor.

Read the whole article here, or in .pdf form here.