Super Performer

Edward Boudrot

VP Product Strategy at Optum



"I run a high-end consulting team and what I teach them, and others in the organization, is that performance is the key to everything, whether you are in a startup or an enterprise. The problem is that no one ever gave us the tools or taught us the techniques to elevate our game and ability to perform at the highest level. So what I have done is study these different topic areas and developed a framework of the critical drivers of success that if implemented will create the highest performing individuals and teams."

Actions taken

  • Shift Mindset: Shifting the way you think will open up possibilities for yourself, your team, and the company. How you shift your mind allows everything to become revealed and you look at situations in a much different way. It enables super performance to happen and here are a few tools that can help.
  • Moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset: During a conversation it is common practice for individuals to say "No, but..." revealing that what the other person said is not the right answer nor focused in the right direction. A simple shift would be to instead say "Yes, and..." This changes everything because people will then emphasize what has been said and move the conversation forward, rather than backward.
  • Taking extreme ownership: There is a great book I recommend on this topic by Jocko Willink called Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win. Extreme ownership is all about owning a situation, even if it is a situation in which you don't understand. For example, say you don't fully comprehend the strategy of your company. It's actually your job to understand this strategy and to take extreme ownership of it, find out what it is, and then understand it more deeply so that you can teach others around you. As a result, you don't put blame on others and instead take action. Actually, in this case, there is bi-directional ownership. Another theory behind this topic is covering moves. If you see a teammate struggling you should cover them and then move in a new direction. By doing so, they know you have their back. It's simple principles like these that have a dramatic effect.
  • Practicing radical candor: This is a great way of thinking. You have deep empathy for someone while also being very direct. Doing so changes the way we communicate as humans because as an individual or as a manager if I care deeply about a colleague then I want to give them direct feedback for their own improvement. And the same goes in the reverse direction. This enables a clear and humanitarian level of communication.
  • Differentiated strategy: Creating an effective strategy that the team is aligned with will inevitably create momentum among the team to deliver. Here are some of the different strategies that I consistently use.
  • Edge strategy: This strategy challenges the boundaries of your existing products and services. It helps leaders recognize and capitalize on opportunities. Think of Best Buy. Someone comes into the store and buys a TV but they can't hang it. Best Buy came up with a service called Geek Squad that installs and repairs products. They shifted their idea around strategy.
  • Ten types of innovation: This is a foundational element to thinking differently that they don't teach you in business school. And you can run any company through it. Uber would be a great example. They took three pillars of the ten types of innovation to create a dramatically different business model that incorporated an innovative platform and a unique user experience. But it's not just Uber. You can run any idea through this strategy, any innovative company, and it changes your idea of what a strategy has to look like and what it actually is.
  • Long-range planning: This gets you to think differently about where you are, the direction you're taking, and how you need to invest. Horizon planning, specifically, is looking at a particular time in the future when preparing a strategic plan. The first horizon is your company as it exists today. The second horizon is the company in transition. And the third is the emergence of a new business.
  • Accelerated execution: Understanding where you are and what it will take to get to the next level will lead to an effective plan through leverage and accelerated execution.
  • First Mile: This is about getting great ideas into the market. The first step is dreaming of the idea. Next, drawing it out on paper. After is the prototyping stage. Then piloting it in the market to get some momentum. Following the First Mile approach allows you to gauge where you are with your idea, with your product, with your company. As a result, you will then know what elements you need to tune or focus on in order to get to the next level.
  • 12-week year: General one-year planning is the wrong way to look at execution because what ends up happening is by the time the end of the year comes around you are usually way behind and by then it's too late. So why not look at the year in 12 week sections, running 12-week years four times a year. This breaks up the usual mindset around time.

Lessons learned

"We internally published a piece on these concepts called Shift Manifesto. The elements, holistically, have been intensely practiced by my own team for the last year and since being applied we've seen dramatic results. The results include not only how we conduct ourselves as a team but we have begun applying this to other teams within the company as well. By focusing on these areas I have been able to create the highest performing individuals and teams in a fortune 6 company."

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Edward Boudrot

VP Product Strategy at Optum

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsLeadership TrainingFeedback TechniquesCareer Growth

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