Win a 1-1 Executive Coaching Program with Patty


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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book. This week: The value of unstructured conversation.

But first…

It’s only two weeks until MOVE is released in Hardcover!

So I’m combining today’s Monday MOVE idea with a reminder of the contest to win a 6 hour 1-1 executive coaching program with me.

Pre-order MOVE before Feb 28

All you need to do is pre-order the Hardcopy or buy the kindle version before Feb 28, and send your receipt to movepreorder@gmail.com.

There will be 2 winners announced on Feb 28. You’ll have up to 1 year to use the 6 hours of coaching. I’m really excited to meet the winners!

Unstructured conversation

Many leaders avoid unstructured conversation because it might get messy. They prefer to say, “Here’s the strategy… Please submit your plans…”.

This feels safer than saying in an unstructured way, “Here is the strategy, what you do think? Really?” because the structured way cuts off the possibility that someone might say, “I disagree, or I have a problem with that”.

But here’s the problem…

If it’s the case that people are not supporting your strategy, wouldn’t you want to know?

Time, conversation and belief

You need to invest some time to allow your team to build their own belief in whatever you want them to do.

Belief and alignment cannot be achieved in an instant without talking about it.

Each person needs time to process the ideas and form their own point of view. They need the unstructured conversation in order establish their own way of believing in the strategy. They need to get their own opinions, thoughts, beliefs in line before they will be ready to move.

What you might not be able to see, is when you announce your new strategy you have already created a train-wreck! People need time to get their bearings again.

The unstructured conversation is what allows everyone to find their way back to the path — in their own way. You can’t force it. And if you skip this step, people won’t be able to execute on the new thing because their belief system is stuck somewhere else.

By avoiding potentially messy conversation up front what you have actually done is traded a false sense of order and harmony in the short term, for a slow moving catastrophe where people are not effectively set up to succeed in the long term.

Pre-Order MOVE and win a 1-1 Coaching Program with Me

MOVE will be available February 28, but if you pre-order your copy now you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a 6 hour executive coaching program with me. There will be TWO winners!

Click to pre-order and enter.

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I’m really excited to share the important ideas, and all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team (at any organizational level) to execute your strategy more decisively.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Talk vs. Action: Collectively Admiring the Problem


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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book. This week: Talk vs. Action: Collectively Admiring the Problem.

Big Goals

Think about the really important goals your team talks about all the time. When you talk about them everyone agrees they are critical. We must improve quality. We must innovate. We must respond to a competitive threat. We must evolve our business model to provide better service.

Talk vs. Action

To move your team from talking about important stuff in a vague way, to actually making progress on these things in a real way, the first step is to realize that you are stuck because you are still only Talking.

It’s vitally important as a leader to recognize when your team is falling into the pattern of accepting smart sounding ideas and inputs instead of measurable forward progress.

The most effective way I have found to break through this is to recognize when you get stuck only talking about the Situation.

Situation Discussions

Sure it’s important to use some time to note and understand the situation, but you can just sense it when everyone has internalized the situation and then … you keep talking about it! Talking and talking and talking about it.

You can feel it in your stomach when the meeting is not going anywhere and you’re still talking. The talk gets smarter and smarter sounding and the forward motion everyone is craving never happens.

Situation discussions are basically: Collectively admiring the problem.

You need to change the nature of the conversation to become one that drives action, instead of just more talking.

I outline the specific steps to do this in MOVE. I’m really excited to share it with you!

Pre-Order MOVE and win a 6 Hour 1-1 Coaching Program with Me

MOVE will be available February 28, but if you pre-order your copy now you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a 6 hour executive coaching program with me. There will be TWO winners!

Click to pre-order and enter.

Move thumb

I’m really excited to share the important ideas, and all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team (at any organizational level) to execute your strategy more decisively.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

The hidden cost of a business review


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Too much time spent on internal reviewing!

In the last two weeks alone, I have had 3 different organizations at 3 different companies tell me that they are preparing for an executive business review and therefore can’t do anything else for the next 2 – 3 weeks.

Regularly, when I talk with mid-level managers about time management challenges, one of their biggest challenges is the fact that they are required to spend so much time preparing for business reviews for executives, that they can’t get their actual work done.

The Expensive Business Review

When you ask an organization to do a business review, you might put 2 hours or half a day on your calendar a few weeks out. That’s what it’s worth to you, on your calendar.

But you need to be aware that this one request can completely paralyze your whole organization. The internal review (to impress you), becomes the urgent business priority, and virtually all work on the business itself stops for weeks to prepare.

Of course, business reviews have their place.

As an executive, especially if you are on the board, you need to satisfy yourself that the business is running properly, and that the work you have committed is getting done.

Getting (only) what you need from a business review

But you need to find a way to ask the questions, get the answers, and feel like you are in the loop of how the business is doing, without creating risk by how you ask.

It’s important to realize that way you review the business may be one of the biggest risks to actually succeeding in your business.

Don’t just ask for “A Review

When you ask for a business review, it’s like throwing a grenade into your organization. There will be many meetings where people get together to debate, “What do you think our boss wants to hear? What are the key messages? How much do we share? What do we feature?”

Once they decide, your team will spend however much time you give them between the request and the review itself, preparing — and doing little else.

This open ended request of a “business review” will give your team a lot of stress, and will not guarantee that you get the information you truly need. And you’ll likely get a lot more non-useful information than you truly need.

Steps to a good review process

Here are some steps to having a productive business review that doesn’t cripple your team to prepare for.

1. Sit down with your business team to discuss what you truly need to learn from the review. If possible, provide a template.

2. Budget the amount of time that preparing the review is worth. Let then know that you only want X number of people to spend Y amount of time preparing. Make it clear that the work is the priority, not the review.

3. Make the amount of time spent on preparing the review part of the review. Shine a spotlight on this and decide with your team what is reasonable. Put in the template a place to record how many people worked for how many hours.

4. Articulate the key control points in the business, and what the desired outcomes and measures are for those, before the review prep starts. Don’t send your team off to debate what should be included. Tell the up front.

5. Identify key risk areas you want to see the plans for. Make a list of the risks, ask for the next top two if they are not on your list and ask to see the plan to mitigate them.

6. Create a 1 page dashboard that the team needs to report on. In addition to a template that guides the preparation process, a one page dashboard can be valuable. You could say for example that any element of the business that has been green for the past two reviews and is green again does not need to be included other than in the dashboard.

Don’t invent too much new stuff

The key thought here, is that the materials you use to review the business should be ones that the business is using to run the business, not some special 100 slide presentation that was only prepared for your review, that has no value otherwise.

My guideline when I was running a $1B business software business, was that I never wanted a team to spend more than 1 week elapsed time, and no one person should spend more than 2 hours preparing for an internal review. I want to see what you are actually doing, using the same artifacts you are using to run your part of the business. Don’t create new stuff. Let’s talk about what’s really happening, not some artificial presentation designed to impress me with it’s polish.

Get over your addiction to detail

The other thing that I see becoming a huge time sink in organizations is when the executives are so addicted to detail that they insist that even the lowest level of detail be dragged up and vetted through every level of management and reviewed and inspected over and over again.

Moving too much detail up kills organizational effectiveness, is hugely expensive, and introduces more risk than it averts. Managers should be creating insights not just moving all their detail up.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on the Azzarello Group Facebook page.

Who else would like to see this?

If you found this article useful, please help me share it with others and encourage them to subscribe to this Blog for free.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Trust. There is no Neutral


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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book. This week: Trust — There is no neutral.

Most people are pro-trust.

You don’t see people walking around saying that they don’t think trust is important, or that they think trust is a bad thing.

But what you do see is that many leaders take trust for granted. They don’t think about trust in a way that they believe they must do things on purpose to build or maintain trust.

They just don’t see trust as an action item.

The thing about trust is that there is no neutral.
You are either building trust or you are destroying it.

If you do nothing, trust will bleed out of the system because people will not see you showing up, personally doing and investing in the things that build trust.

Even if you are not doing anything bad, you are still letting trust degrade by your inaction.

Without a specific focus and consistent actions to build trust, trust will bleed out of the system, and your transformation is likey to get stuck somewhere during the long Middle, where even the most important strategies lose momentum.

In MOVE I share many important ways to be building trust throughout your whole transformation so that people feel confident and motivated to stick with it.

Read MOVE

I’m really excited to share the important ideas, and all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help managers at all levels get your team to execute your strategy more decisively.

MOVE will be available February 28, but you can download a free preview now or pre-order your copy now.
Click to download
Click to Pre-order
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What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

Who else would like to see this?

If you found this article useful, please help me share it with others and encourage them to subscribe to this Blog for free.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

The Value of Unstructured Conversation: #MondayMOVE


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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book.

This week: The Value of Unstructured Conversation: Don’t trade a comfortable moment for a slow moving train wreck

Structured vs. Unstructured Conversation

I have found in business a great unwillingness among leaders to simply talk to people in an unstructured way. Leaders seem to want to say, “Here’s the situation, I need you to do this.” Their expectation is that the person will say, “OK, will do”, and come back with a programmatic response about getting it done.

While that highly structured way of communicating sounds very efficient and kind of OK, it avoids any real conversation about what you are trying to accomplish. And many leaders seem to prefer it that way.

The reason unstructured conversation is uncomfortable is because instead of the safe, sterile, structured, “I want a plan”…“Here is a my plan” type of communication, you open yourself to a conversation that might get messy.

But the risk of avoiding unstructured conversation is that you will never know what people really think, and they will never truly engage without the opportunity to speak their mind.

“What do you really think?”

If you ask someone in an unstructured way to tell you what they really think or feel about your strategy, they might tell you what they really think or feel! And it might not be in perfect alignment with what you are wanting. It might feel like you are wasting time, or even going backwards for a while.

You’d rather say, “just do it!” But please realize that you can’t go forward decisively without this messy step.

Genuine Alignment

This type of unstructured conversation is the magic that unlocks a team’s ability to truly align and move forward. Authentic conversation gives everyone a chance to tune their own belief system to be ready to do what the business needs. You can’t put someone on the path of your strategy, they have to find their own way there.

Think really seriously about this.

If you avoid the unstructured conversation because you don’t want to hear something out of alignment, your only other choice is to go forward with the serious risk of actually being out of alignment and not knowing about it!

Read MOVE

I’m really excited to share all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team to execute your strategy or implement your key initiatives more decisively — Including ideas to build sponsorship along with building your own confidence and courage.

MOVE will be available in February, but you can download a free preview now.
Click to download
Move thumb

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

Who else would like to see this?

If you found this article useful, please help me share it with others and encourage them to subscribe to this Blog for free.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook