Solution-Recognition for Enlightened Leaders

Abre los ojos, los oidos, la mente, y el corazon.

Abre los ojos, los oidos, la mente, y el corazon.

Vitalia Consulting (VC) is not a conventional management consulting firm, and we don’t intend to become one. Our client-consultant role is to inspire forward-thinking solutions and actions. “Solution-Recognition” is an important tool in the process of searching for (and finding) the best innovative ideas.

“We need more ideas” is a phrase we hear almost every day.  Innovation isn’t constrained by the absence of ideas, but the inability to notice the good-to-great ideas right in front of you. It’s not an idea problem; it’s a Solution-Recognition dilemma.

Ideas are free. So, why not take advantage of such a great value? Whatever happened to “Brain-Storming” where no idea was pre-judged as a bad idea, no matter how absurd the idea initially appeared to be? While Brain-storming has morphed into Ideation, White-boarding, Iterative Process, Blue Sky Thinking, etc., it’s rarely used the way it was originally intended. “Thinking Outside the Box” has been so overused and abused, it’s become a gag in bad commercials.

Once upon a time (1984-1987) while working with Vici Associates International (based in Milan, Italy) we used the creative-strategic process “ProThink” to stimulate innovative and pragmatic solutions for our client-companies. Guess What? The concept still works! Unfortunately, most companies (then and now) fail to consistently capitalize on Solution-Recognition, and make it an integral part of organizational culture. In my experience, it requires not only a mind-shift but also (and more importantly) a behavioral, cultural transformation.

In the digital speed of social media: Golden Opportunities are lost amidst the chatter. Great moments of brilliance never return to our work/lives.

People tend to think of creativity as flashes of light from the heavens, anointing the next demi-god of genius. In business world reality, new insights and ideas come from hard work. While analytic data can identify real opportunities, these insights must then be transformed into practical, viable ideas. Cogito Ergo Zoom (I Think. Therefore, I go fast.) is the wrong-headed mentality for Solution-Recognition to work.

Solution-Recognition requires:

  • An Open Mind
  • Genuine Listening Skills
  • Passionate Intelligence (Intelligence that can actually be Applied)
  • The Ability to Dream with “Eyes Wide Open”
  • Being Empathic
  • Emotional Intelligence (High EQ)

Research has found that those managers/leaders exposed to a small amount of uncertainty said they value creativity, but actually tended to favor practical word pairings over creative word pairings. If such a negative bias against creativity exists in times of uncertainty, it might explain why so many notable innovations (in business history) were initially rejected. Is this happening in your business?

The implications are particularly relevant now, as few leaders/managers would claim that they’re not working in an uncertain industry. The same uncertainty that propels the need for companies to innovate may also be compelling leaders/managers to reject discoveries that could help them gain a competitive edge.

The innovative ideas that would keep your company alive (and sustain growth) are being killed in the embryonic stage of development, or even at conception.

One possible solution to this “idea killing” is to change the structural system ideas must move through for acceptance and execution. Instead of using the traditional hierarchy to find and approve ideas, this process could be spread across the whole organization. Given a higher priority than immediate revenue, the idea market can create an organizational culture where new ideas are recognized and approved throughout the entire company, a democratization of recognition. What do You Think?

Solution-Recognition becomes an organizational “way of life” based on the assumption that everyone is capable of producing great ideas.

Example: We have a new client (based here in California) who recruited a highly-skilled, experienced Sales Team without building the right organizational infrastructure to support that Sales Team, without professionally mature Sales Management to properly lead and coach that Sales Team, without developing the software tools for that Sales Team to close more deals and succeed, resulting in an under-performing, disillusioned, demotivated Sales Team in complete disarray.

In essence, without Solution-Recognition, “putting the cart before the horse.” Your Management/Leadership habits become either an albatross or a catalyst for growth. The problem lies in Management/Leadership failure to (adapt and change) genuinely listen to the concerns, problems, situations the Sales Team is facing in the field. Genuinely listening to the Sales Team would engender coaching opportunities, and collaborative solutions for the true underlying problems.



Enlightened Management/Leadership embraces Solution-Recognition. Remember, You are defined by what You do.



Example: Enlightened Leaders get out of the office more often. These “empathic outings” are purposeful field trips, a way to effectively connect with employees, customers, vendors, alliance partners, and others key to the success of your business. This also makes an enormous difference in gaining commitment to shifts in business and organizational behavior, and solving related issues. The purpose of these meetings is not just for gathering information, but more crucially to discover, uncover crucial patterns of what’s working and not working in your business, misalignments in your business and organizational vision/strategies.

Example: We use Solution-Recognition in our most productive client-projects:

  1. Business Turnaround Projects
  2. Business Growth Projects
  3. New Business Ventures ~ Entrepreneurial Start-Up Projects

The Message: Reject Solution-Recognition at your peril, and suffer the grapes of wrath. Vitalia Consulting (VC) is not a conventional management consulting firm, and we don’t intend to become one. Our client-consultant role is to inspire forward-thinking solutions and actions. Solution-Recognition is an essential tool for every successful business.

Partner with Us. Let’s start with a conversation. 

  • Marc Ortiz de Candia
  • Executive Partner ~ Provocateur
  • Vitalia Consulting | The Enlightened Leadership Leader

What Do You Say and Do?

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962 in Houston, Texas USA

When I was a small boy (believe me, when I tell you that I was a very small boy) I saw President John F. Kennedy’s “Moon Speech” on TV. It was an awe-inspiring moment for me, for most Americans. Few people remember how unpopular and unsupported “space travel” was at that time. Most people didn’t believe it was even possible. It was something you could only imagine, or experience in science-fiction books and movies. Most politicians thought it was too ambitious, and unrealistic. JFK had an ace up his sleeve: A tenacious vision backed with passionate intelligence and conviction. The “Moon Speech” shifted American perception of space travel, and in turn, our sense of other endless possibilities.

As a working-class boy, I wasn’t permitted to be a free-thinker. I was imprisoned by the limitations dictated by class and ethno-centric discrimination: Hell on earth! I was constantly bombarded by messages from those who brandished absolute power, telling me/showing us, that nothing I dreamt would ever come true for me, or for any one of us.

JFK moved me to see, for the first time in my embryonic life, that anything is possible if you believe in the vision, if you are genuinely committed to making the vision come alive. You must commit without hesitation or doubt or excuse to retreat, to fallback. No matter what others say and do to destroy your dreams, JFK showed how vital it is to move forward and execute your vision with confidence. Defiance in the face of overwhelming odds.

We sometimes tend to romanticize great leaders like JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi. We focus on their vision and charisma, forgetting that these enlightened leaders are best remembered for getting things done. Getting things done is the real legacy of these enlightened leaders. We’ve all experienced managers, executives, and politicians with vision and charisma (who may even look the part) but do absolutely nothing. Vision and charisma are not enough, enlightened leaders possess a High EQ (emotional quotient) for getting things done with emotional intelligence.

Being an enlightened leader is not about espousing new rhetoric or reciting recycled jargon. Enlightened Leaders execute their strategic vision. Words and actions are consistently in alignment.

Contrary to the same old tune we’ve all heard before: Silence is not golden.

In the multicultural management consulting and learning services firm that I founded and led, De Candia International Corporation (1987-2007) we uncovered the “conspiracy of silence” in Corporate America whereby no one says anything to challenge or confront systemic deception and collusion, to keep the status quo intact. A conspiracy of silence engenders collusion, and collusion is the arch-enemy of change.

The message: Lead sans silence. Speaking-up makes a difference. Execute your vision with conviction. Lead with determination while remaining open to pluralistic perspectives.  

Understand the value of speaking-up, taking a stand, with conviction. While no one else may believe in your dreams, it doesn’t matter what other people think, even when you feel the whole world is against you. If you feel that you can’t speak-up: ask yourself, “What messages am I receiving from within my organizational culture, telling me it’s not safe to speak-up.” The answer always lies within how the organizational culture is set-up. Change the set-up of the culture and you’ll see the behavioral change. Try this in small ways: participating in a meeting, working with a team on a project. You know that you believe in your vision, and you are willing to take the calculated risks to see that it happens, by whatever means necessary (without becoming the new Prince Machiavelli).

What matters most is what happens in the long run. JFK didn’t live to see his moon dream realized. Others, who were inspired by his vision, fulfilled his dream in 1969. No one accomplishes anything alone. Understand this: “Resilient conviction” is part of every enlightened leader’s behavioral profile.

Believe me when I tell you, I was rejected by everyone under the moon and sun, ridiculed as a politically incorrect ranting and raving lunatic (even by many of the people closest to me – my colleagues in other firms and practices). I was excluded, an out-cast by some organizations, who was said that I was conceptually and literally wrong about everything I conceived to be true. Yet my firm thrived for more than 20 years with impressive Fortune, Global, and Inc. 500 clients. Other management consulting firms interpreted my professional life as a contradiction (or just dismissed me for being a crazed, conflicted, Spanish-French Pisces).

Despite what fascist, authoritarian textbooks may have taught you, listen to your inner voice, see with your mind’s eye. Think about it: Are you flying your true colors? Are you saying what you believe? Or, are you just repeating what you been told is the proper company line. Great leaders are revolutionary not evolutionary, executing their visions with precision. Enlightened Leaders use their voice as a catalyst for action and change.

Come what may, when is the wrong decision, the right decision? When no one around you believes in doing the right thing, but you. Learn how to speak-up effectively. Challenge the powers that be. Storm the Bastille!

According to recent research from VitalSmarts: Silence Fails. Leaders can substantially improve their organizations ability to execute on high stakes projects and initiatives. Yes, you can break the code of silence on five astoundingly common yet mostly unspoken, undisclosed, and ignored problems that contribute significantly to almost all project and initiative failures.

Based on the VitalSmarts research, when an enlightened leader skillfully creates even a moderately safe environment, the likelihood of a project or initiative failing is reduced by 50%. When enlightened leaders effectively step-up, hitting schedule is 40% more likely, quality improves 60%, and the potential for project or initiative ending with strong morale and intact stakeholder relationships is 70% greater.

Based on the VitalSmarts study, the five crucial conversations most prevalent and most costly to lasting success are:

  1. Fact-free Planning: A project or initiative is set-up to fail when deadlines or resource limits are set with no consideration for reality.
  2. AWOL Senior Executives: Senior Executives (sponsors) provide no leadership, political clout, time, or energy to see a project through.
  3. Skirting: People work around the priority setting process. (You know, there’s one in every crowd, on every team, and more than one in every organization and family.)
  4. Project Chicken: Team leaders and members don’t admit when there are problems with the project, but instead wait for someone else to speak-up.
  5. Team failures: Team members are unwilling or unable to support the project.

Each brings with it a myriad of misses, cost over-runs which plague projects, initiatives, teams, organizations (and yes, dysfunctional co-dependent family relationships). The VitalSmarts key findings show that these problems are most likely caused by a high degree of interdependence among levels and functions. The organizational culture tends to be closed rather than open. Challenging norms, especially within a hierarchy, is the kiss of death. When these problems are not openly and skillfully discussed, projects and relationships fail miserably, significantly impacting what leaders, teams, and organizations can achieve.

Enlightened Leaders influence lasting success and achievements, the way we see ourselves and each other, causing us to re-think what we thought we knew, shifting our perceptions of things, the way we feel and act. Enlightened leaders shoot for the moon, and beyond.

So, what do you say and do? Let’s continue the conversation.

Marc Ortiz de Candia, Executive Partner, Vitalia Consulting

Tangerine Tango: Let’s Dance!

Learn the steps of the dance, the art of conversation and build powerful, lasting business relationships that work for you.

Every lasting relationship begins with a conversation, even business relationships, even partnering for mutual benefit. Yet, sometimes we forget the easy way to connect with the new people we meet, on something we have in common, other than business, a simple generous gift of conversation.

The nice thing is that conversation can be about anything, almost anywhere. Natural humor stimulated by life and living in this world, an affinity we share, it may be something complimentary or complementary.

Build powerful, lasting business relationships, especially Advocate Relationships, without breathlessly pontificating about what you do and how you do it, without talking about business, without selling anything at all. No matter what business you are in, the relationship business is key to your business growth.

To illustrate: Did you know that the newest Pantone Color released in 2012 is called “Tangerine Tango.” For our purposes, Tangerine Tango is simply “starting that initial conversation.” The fun part is that you can initiate conversations anywhere, anytime (not exclusively at business events). The potential for human interaction is all around us. You know you’ve got to face the music sometime, somewhere.

Best described as “warm, uplifting, and energizing” Tangerine Tango is the perfect color for increasing business relationships.

Think, act, be Tangerine Tango! Learn the basic steps, the art of engaging in simple conversation is just like a dance. Learn the dance. Practice each step with your newest partner. You will remember where to step with every beat of the music. One caveat, unfortunately if you are not genuinely committed to Tangerine Tango (reflecting the behavioral ways you cultivate relationships) it will be transparent to everyone around you.

You can use Tangerine Tango in networking, in expanding your business relationships, your sphere of influence, again without selling anything. (We can call it, “The No Pitch.”) Learn the dance. Establish rapport, trust, and value creation with people.

Give the gift of value in your conversations to create “Advocate Relationships.” Advocates are people who will make a case to recommend you to others, without you ever asking. Advocate relationships are the most important relationships. These are people who will give you unsolicted referrals because they like and trust you.

Try Tangerine Tango just once. Try it, and decide later. Is it right for you? It’s a simple choice. Work it. You’ll feel Tangerine Tango working for you without you even having to be here, there, and everywhere. Build powerful, lasting relationships that work for you, and you’ll want to do the dance over and over again. There are two other basic steps essential to expanding your business, branding and building your image. We will explore these dance movements another time.

Can you really think outside-the-box? Here it is: Tangerine Tango!

Every lasting relationship begins with a conversation. After all, when’s the last time you really danced in your business life? Remember what they say, “It takes two to Tangerine Tango.” Let’s Dance!

The beginning is always today. Let’s continue the conversation.

Marc Ortiz de Candia, Executive Partner, Vitalia Consulting