Improving Your Management Thinking will Enhance Your Compensation Planning

Compensation design needs context. It grows out of a larger process of thinking about the business-- how it will innovate, who its primary competition is, how it will manage change, what kind of culture it needs to nurture, where it's customers want to "go" next, and so on. Without that broader framework in mind, its hard to see compensation--especially value sharing arrangements--as anything more than an expense to be managed and contained. Compensation is an investment not an expense and its allocation needs to be driven by the outcomes company leadership seeks to fulfill.

If that's the case, every business leader should ask himself what and whom is influencing his thinking. Is your thought process mostly reactionary? If so, what practices do you engage in to prevent it from remaining such? What are you reading? Who is offering you direction? What is the "well" you're drawing from to remain fresh and at the forefront of current trends and practices?

With those questions in mind, I'd like to offer four sources of thought leadership that I recommend to clients. You will often see me quote from these sources in my columns. Certainly, there are more than these that provide great information. However, these sources will expose you to many other "wells" of innovative thinking that will help you achieve success in leading your company.

The Harvard Business Journal

HBR provides current, relevant, in-depth insight into practices, case studies, research and the latest business management thinking globally. It will likewise lead you to individuals, books, technology, groups, associations and thought leadership sources that are having impact on the most successful businesses around the world. If you only receive the print edition of HBR, I would recommend you also become a member of its online edition. There you will find a number of other great resources such as blogs and videos that will expand your experience. As a starting point, check out HBR's list of the 50 most influential business management gurus. The list includes a host of reading recommendations by these thought leaders as well.

Fast Company

I like this publication because it emphasizes thought leadership from business, technology, entertainment and the arts. It's focus on innovation is particularly helpful and allows you to see what's happening "right now," particularly in entrepreneurial oriented environments. Check out the publication's recent article on wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg.

Strategy + Business

This publication is put out both in print and online ( by Booz & Company, a leading global management consulting firm. This information this resource provides essentially for free is mind boggling. It's resources are deep and organized into categories that make it easy to find information that is relevant and current. Although it's target audience is larger, multi-national companies, the thought leadership it provides has application to businesses of just about any size and industry. For example, check out the article on How Aha! Really Happens.

Chief Executive Magazine

If you lead a company, you are likely already aware of this publication and probably subscribe. However, if you aren't likewise participating in the forums and conferences this organization sponsors, you are missing an opportunity to connect with chief executives from around the country that are trying to successfully navigate the very challenges and opportunities you also face. The publication can be accessed online ( or in print. Check out its recent article on The Limits of Monetary Incentives.

As indicated, certainly more resources could be added to that list. But these are some that I have found to be particularly useful in addressing issues that are relevant to what business leaders are facing today. Regardless of the source used, what's critical is that those who make decisions about pay ensure they are constantly exposing themselves to the best thinking; ideas that will help them achieve the "next" level in their company's progress. Doing so will lead to the development of rewards strategies that drive rather than hinder that success.


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