Next Practices – A Need and a Method to Move Beyond the Status Quo

Early June is typically a time of reflection and analysis of what worked and what did not in terms of your strategy and execution. Many of our clients are now planning their Fall 2016 strategy retreats and/or team development sessions. A word of caution- in today’s markets of light speed change, yesterday’s tactics to running a business or applying outdated management techniques to contemporary problems will quickly make you vulnerable. In this “Uberized” economy, moving beyond the status quo has never been more important. For those reasons, we’ve continued to put a focus on the concept and methods that represent “next practices”.

Next Practice development isn’t necessarily about making something more efficient – it entails a fundamental transformation of the core business culture and mindset to ensure that all the moving parts of a business are aligned and effective.

Some of the key elements necessary to understand and build Next Practices are:

Best practices are past driven – repetitive formulas for tactical business problems. (By the way, they’ll often get you to the same level of mediocrity as your competition.)

Next practices are future-driven strategic solutions that enable you to better anticipate, plan and respond to changing market and internal needs.

Here is the framework, and in our subsequent articles and live C-suite forums we will continue to showcase individuals and companies who are reaping the benefits of this thinking:

The Need: Every organization needs to get past legacy thinking in order to create transformation and change that will enable it to effectively respond to challenges and obstacles to its growth. “This is the way we have always done it” remains the biggest obstacle to real breakthroughs.

Beyond Best Practices: Conventional Best Practices tend to be proven, locked down business techniques that can be re-executed successfully on demand at the middle management level. There are few such “Best Practices” for C-level executives who face a constant flow of new challenges, unforeseen problems and marketplace conditions beyond the reach of conventional thinking.

Business Intelligence: A Next Practices approach offers flexible tools, frameworks and situational analysis methods that enable executives to get a clear view of the current situations they face and frame intelligent responses to it. Seeing the unseen and often “covert” trends is the objective.

Moving Parts: This approach includes policies, practices, behavior models and performance techniques, used in combination with highly collaborative and cross-functional communication between people. Taken as a whole, this approach enables leaders to be exponentially more effective in directing change.

Metrics: Next Practice methods are designed to be measurable so that their effectiveness can be understood and assessed.

Cross-Functional Focus: Next Practice thinking requires a cross-functional focus in which problems are addressed by stakeholders from all areas related to a given topic or problem area. The Next Practice philosophy considers it essential to have people of different perspectives working on a challenge simultaneously, in a holistic way, to effectively and successfully arrive at a solution.

Collaboration is Key: Next Practices assume a high level of collaboration between stakeholders at all levels – from senior executives to management to staff – in working on any business initiative or challenge. Power derives from the diversity of ideas and collaboration around those ideas- and, the ability to converge and act on those ideas in a market timely fashion.

Strategic Planning with your team should not be an annual event. We look not only to build a strategy that is adaptable, but also build the internal capability of the team to recognize emerging trends in customer preferences, market dynamics, technology enablers, and eliminate non-value added activity.

Our business advisory group, Nextworks Strategy(, supports the ENP Forums, which is comprised of hundreds of top executives and thought leaders has for several years been focused on the concept of “next practices”. Join us there to explore this new approach at one of the meeting or other keynote events where we will be speaking- please refer to the links or


Contact the author at or 888.857.9722

HR 2020 Transformation: Interview with #SHRM16 Speaker Scott Hamilton


In January I participated in the first DisruptHR Orange County event. If you aren’t familiar with DisruptHR, it is a Ted-esque style event with speakers in the HR/Recruiting world speaking for five minutes with 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. For even the most seasoned of speakers it’s a bit nerve-racking. After much shuffling of speakers, I was asked to close out the night. Several other speakers asked if it bothered me to go last.

It didn’t.

By the last speaker the kinks have been worked out, I have had 10 other people to watch and learn from and at an event where alcohol flows, the last speaker could mess up immensely and lowered inhibitions likely make the audience a bit more forgiving.

I was happy to go last. What I wouldn’t want to do was go first.

This event is where I first met Scott Hamilton. The guy who did go first.

And then he passed out underwear.

Seriously, if you haven’t attended one of these events, you need to.

But back to Scott. When the SHRM social team asked us bloggers to interview a speaker before the annual conference I reviewed the list and was happy to see Scott listed. Scott is now helping me plan DisruptHR Los Angeles and I thought this interview would be a great opportunity to get to know him and his work a bit better. Scott is leading a Mega Session titled: HR 2020 Transformation: Next Practices in HR Strategy, Leadership, and Business Contribution

Here’s what he had to say.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your business: I am CEO of the Executive Next Practices Institute, a research and forum organization for C-suite leaders that focuses on emerging trends and the development of “next practice” solutions. I am also managing director of Nextworks Strategy- a top advisory firm that helps organizations improve their strategy, leadership performance, customer centricity and alignment. Our programs build the internal capability of companies to execute and thrive.

Your session description talks about “eliminating the legacy and silo-ed organization thinking”. Why do you think that is important for HR practitioners? Organization silos are alive and well. So is a “legacy mindset” that translates to “this is how we have always done it here”. Both contribute to poor communications, mis-alignment and lower performance. We work with organizations to restructure and align them for maximum performance.

Sidebar: while many of us bloggers roll our eyes a bit at buzzwords like silos, Scott’s right. They do exist and hinder communication.

What is a “next practices” outcome? Too often leaders “benchmark” against others. A best practices approach simply leads you to being on the same level of potential mediocrity as your competitor. Next Practices is about finding your optimal way of doing things- new processes, practices and behaviors that will dramatically change your business for the better and create true differentiation. We have hundreds of examples of businesses using these techniques to drive productivity and efficiency results for extraordinary ROI.

Read that second line again: “A best practices approach simply leads you to being on the same level of potential mediocrity as your competitor.” Brilliant

Why do you think HR Practitioners struggle with this? HR is keenly aware of organization dysfunction- they see it and deal with it everyday. The challenge is to get traction across the leadership suite to do something about it. This is why we often start with a strategic offsite to align the entire leadership team to all the issues and identify a way forward.

This is your second year doing this topic and this year you have a Mega session slot. Why do you think this topic is resonating so well with conference attendees? This is actually our third presentation and the demand for this topic has been very high given all the disruption in business and government entities. Businesses are being “uberized” seemingly overnight, driving the need for adaptability, speed and continuous innovation across the entire organizations. The next practices approach is a proactive way of driving change and create buy-in at all levels of the organization.

What else should attendees know about your topic? Attendees should expect to gain both strategic and tactical methods and specific examples to help their organization “move beyond the status quo”. We will cover all aspects of “next” organizations- talent, leadership, financial, community and engagement. They will uncover practical steps they can immediately take to engage their leadership team and contribute real business value via these techniques.

I’m excited about Scott’s session. Scott was gracious enough to extend an invitation to me a few weeks ago to one the ENP Institute’s monthly events. I wrote about my experience on LinkedIn and look forward to attending again in the future.

If you are planning your schedule for SHRM16, think about adding Scott’s session to your schedule. I will be there and would love to meet you.

See you in a few weeks.

Boards, Don’t Obsess Over Shareholder Value

Directors need to focus on building a great business
By Scott Hamilton and Larry Cabaldon

Scott Hamilton is the CEO of the Executive Next Practices Institute (ENP) and Larry Cabaldon is the CEO of the boardroom performance group and the board practice leader for ENPI.

Many directors have been CEOs or significant investors, so they know company value is really what creates shareholder value. They enjoy the accomplishment of building the enterprise, not just complying with the law or getting more fees or stock. Therefore, most would prefer to move from the compliance board model to the value-creating model.

But the transition between these two oversight models can be more complicated than many directors realize, as certain habits of the traditional “compliance board” model can be hard to break.

To evolve successfully, directors must participate in developing the criteria for value creation. They must also examine new ways of generating growth and efficiencies throughout their businesses, and to encourage management to achieve alignment between departments. Half of effective transitioning will come from taking assertive, proactive measures, and the other half will come from avoiding unproductive behavior that is tied to the past. Below are the dos and don’ts that are crucial to making the move from the “compliance board” to the value-generating board.

Don’t Overemphasize Corporate Governance

In the post-Sarbanes-Oxley Act environment, directors have been conditioned by regulators, accountants and lawyers to focus on governance. Board members attend seminars, briefings and risk conferences and subscribe to various publications, all stressing the need for more board governance oversight. Internally, the nominating and governance, risk, audit and compensation committees have become the board watchdogs for good governance. But despite all the “improved governance,” we still experienced a severe financial meltdown.

Directors must ask if they are doing the right things to create value, or just robotically following governance rules and responding to outside pressures.

Don’t Buy Into the Myth of Shareholder Value

In her book The Shareholder Value Myth, Cornell University professor Lynn Stout provides compelling arguments against obsessing over shareholder value. A director’s main duty is to the corporation, not shareholders, she argues. Most compelling is her thesis that, despite all the focus on shareholder value, shareholder value has not been enhanced.

Overall, most directors can do a better job of avoiding the distractions that come from focusing on shareholder value at the expense of other priorities, such as reinvesting in businesses and penetrating new markets.

Directors Must Define Value Creation

Too many companies focus on financial engineering and manipulation, not building great products. In contrast, Steve Jobs knew Apple needed to produce new products that could change the world. He ignored the stock price as his main objective because he knew great products would create company — and, eventually, shareholder — value.

Board members must understand what it takes to build a valuable company. It takes new products, talent, strategy, motivation of employees and a high-performance culture. Directors who are focused on these goals and can properly define them will build business for the future. Boards must ultimately step up and recapture the satisfaction of actually building something great, not just creating market value.

Build a Culture of High Performance

Technology company boards will usually have CEOs from the technology industry, former senior executives and board advisors, who understand the industry and have proven track records of success. They are careful not to overpower the CEO, but know when to offer advice and make changes. Hewlett-Packard’s board struggled with the changes an inaptness of its CEOs over the last few years. However, these same directors understood HP’s culture, where it had been and where it needed to go. This is an example of a value-creating board, not a compliance board.

Indeed, all directors should take a closer look at their board composition, strategic oversight processes, succession planning efforts and CEO evaluations and ensure they are in line with larger value-creation goals.

5 Tips to Building an Executive Brand for Impact and Market Relevance

Are you VITAL to your organization?

In a world where it has become easy to claim every laurel, executives will need to veer away from traditional reputation building methods and start positioning themselves to be “rare and indispensable” in a crowded and noisy marketplace. This is the thought process behind personal branding, a phrase originally coined by management guru Tom Peters. Peters simplified the meaning of the phrase “personal branding” in this way: “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me

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Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

Intuitive? Perhaps for some, but the rules of the game have changed for all types of executives- the well-connected, tech savvy and publicity adverse alike… just within the past 36 months.

How do you manage your personal brand and ensure that it generates sustained momentum to support your career?

1. Personal branding is a long process of self discovery. Building a marketing campaign for oneself cannot happen over a matter of hours. It is actually a long process of re-evaluating your goals in life and career. It can be a painful journey back to the past where you may replay some set-backs, and get honest feedback from former bosses, subordinates and clients. It can be an inspiring time when you think back to your victories. But the most important thing is to rediscover how you converted your losses into victories and led people “up the hill”. That is what will define you not only as a person but also as a bankable, reputable leader.

2. Brand yourself in a word or set of words-be a VITAL link. Think of Nike’s “Just do it,”; 3M’s “Innovation”; and many Coke slogans. These words have been associated with the product and because of this association people tend to gravitate towards them. The same thing is true with your personal brand. You need to come up with associations that not only best describe you, but those that will immediately catch the attention of hiring (read equity) decision makers. The best advice to do this is to stay authentic to what you are as a person and don’t become a “commodity” in the workplace. We often use the acronym VITAL to help in defining an individual’s brand; V=what makes you Valuable, I = measurable Impact, T = transparent in decision making, A = adaptable to circumstances, L= able to leverage leadership across teams and organizations.

3. Have a plan. With your personal brand now defined, you are now ready to leverage all that technology can afford in today’s marketplace. The slogans of Nike, 3M and Coke did not bring them the success they have now if not for the billboards, print and media exposures they invested on to let people know their bylines. Executives need to have a well-crafted go to market plan that balances traditional word of mouth methods with the best of social media and other communication strategies. We often use “100 day plans of action” to both manage an executive’s market strategy with the ability to adapt and pivot when needed.

4. Practice what

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you preach. If you say that you are the “most energetic CFO” then you have to project energy in everything that you do. Be sure to live by your personal brand. If you say you are innovative, innovate; if you say you are strategic, let your records show what strategies you have made to contribute to the success

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of your company.

5. Record for every milestone. Keep a journal of what you have accomplished. In fact, while you’re in the process of establishing your personal brand it would be wise to compartmentalize all your accomplishments. Once done, come up with a way to showcase these accomplishments in your resume in such a way that will tell stakeholders (recruiters, investors) your story and not just a run-down (and most of the time a redundant narration) of what you have done in every company that you worked with.


To get more tips on how you can develop your executive brand and improve your visibility as a leader/influencer in your field, join us at the Taco Bell Headquarters in Irvine, California on April 4, 2014 and listen to very distinguished business speakers such as Phil Molyneux, Chairman of SONY Electronics, Scott Tompkins, Counsel & Director of Concentrus Inc.,

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John Polson, Managing Director of Fisher & Phillips LLP, Donna Ellis- Ziemer, Human Resource Director of Pendragon North America Automotive, Inc., Debra Squyres, Director of Human Capital of Trinet and John Davern, Jr., President & CEO of Virtual Assistant Talent, LLC.

To learn more about this session or register, please visit the ENP Institute website at