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“We look for leaders who are looking to forge a new path and not just follow where everyone else has been before.”

Chris Paliani is a founding partner of Kinext, where he helps visionaries soar to new heights within their businesses. Chris has always been a problem solver, and had a true passion for solving even the most complicated and difficult problems. He comes from an engineering background and received a Ph.D. in engineering from Penn State University. From there he went on to found 7 different businesses. Through this, he learned that he had a knack for finding solutions to a client’s most difficult problems and helping them approach their future problems along the way. Thus, Kinext was born!

Kinext helps organizations find rapid, game-changing solutions to complex business issues. The Kinext approach enables companies to solve problems that are highly complex, span multiple functional areas, and are a high priority for the business. Solving these types of problems does not have to be hard, but it does require a specialist to help the organization find its unique path to the outcome. While many organizations desire the same or similar outcomes, the path to that outcome is different for each organization. This is because each organization has its own unique set of individuals, issues, opportunities, resources, and current culture.

MO: What made your team decide to start Kinext?

Chris:We realized that Bold Visionary Leaders like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson are able to create amazing results for reasons that defy traditional leadership methods or what you learn in business school. Visionaries have something special that is hard to capture, let alone teach. I realized that helping people think differently and see themselves differently is really the missing link between being the person who creates the menu or being the person who ends up on the menu — between being the company everyone is constantly trying to catch up with or a company somewhere in the pack.

Visionaries are not only able to do things that almost everyone else considers improbable and often impossible, they are actually drawn to the impossible and challenging. Visionaries are able to see things well in advance of others. The challenge is often helping the team around the “visionary” see what he or she sees and making this vision clear throughout the organization.  When everyone is engaged and aligned the results are not incremental improvements, they are exponential.  

Our goal is to act as a catalyst, driving the visionary’s DNA throughout the organization by helping team members more fully and quickly grasp their organization’s vision.

We are simultaneously able to significantly improve outcomes for the company, increase employee engagement/initiative, and create a culture that drives people to be their best. It hits absolutely all of my drivers and is something that is immensely valuable to companies — and so Kinext was born.

MO: What can Kinext do for visionaries and their organizations?

Chris: Visionaries rarely completely understand why they have been able to consistently achieve vastly superior results when compared to their peers. This is the first area in which we add value. We help the visionary better understand what makes them different and why they have been so effective. We look at visionaries like superheroes. Our job is to help them understand their gifts and envision what they are truly capable of.

The next step is helping them pull their DNA throughout the organization — helping everyone else see the vision more clearly and quickly. By engaging the team members themselves in this process, it changes the dynamic and the roles: the visionary can move from pulling and managing (often micromanaging) to guiding and leading. It energizes and empowers the rest of the organization to take the initiative to achieve the most desirable outcome, and it drives rapid progress toward the “best fit” solution (instead of just “a solution” that may or may not be effective in the long run). The net result is an organization full of driven and aligned leaders — each grabbing the rein where they can make the most impact regardless of where they fall in the corporate hierarchy.

MO: How would our readers know if your services could be a good solution to their problems?

Chris: Candidly, we don’t take on work that doesn’t excite us or work with leaders who, while capable, aren’t the right fit for us. We readily admit that we aren’t for everyone. We want to find those True Visionaries and help them achieve the impossible. There are two basic criteria that determine whether we are a fit.

1. We are the best fit for Bold Visionary Leaders. We look for leaders who are looking to forge a new path and not just follow where everyone else has been before. They are more driven to do something incredible than they are fearful of doing something wrong. They aren’t the people who choose the “safe” project or a modest goal, and they are looking for chances to have a significant and exponential impact on the organization.

2. The problem/opportunity is complex, and it is a game-changer for a business. Our best fit is the highly complex problems — often identified by looking for the problems that a business has only been able to find a “good enough for now” solution for. Or it could be a problem that the business has been putting off.  Our approach requires a significant time commitment from multiple people within an organization — it needs to be an issue that is worth that commitment.

MO: Before starting your own business what did you do? How did these experiences prepare you for what you and your team are doing today?

Chris: I’ve always been fascinated by helping people solve complex problems, and I’m most drawn to doing the things others say can’t be done.  In the past I would even do things that I didn’t really care about just to prove to someone that it wasn’t impossible.

My background is in engineering, which at its best is about finding practical solutions to real world problems. When working with companies, I would see situations where the engineers would come up with a great solution to a problem (at least that’s what everyone in the organization would say), but it was either never implemented or it was implemented only to erode over time to become unsustainable. People often seemed content that they simply had a solution even if it was not successfully implemented or sustained.

I found this aggravating. I wasn’t interested in coming up with great solutions that never happened — it was completely unfulfilling. I’m driven to create a significant, positive change that lasts, not just an impressive solution that never happens or degrades over time. Once I saw this in the organizations I was working with, I started seeing this problem wasn’t just limited to engineering — it happens everywhere.

So, I wanted to know why things didn’t happen, and more importantly, how to make it happen. It wasn’t sufficient to come up with a great solution — you needed to ensure it was a solution that worked best for the people and that they became driven to actually implement it.

After I finished my Ph.D. in engineering, I spent the following 15 years focused on applied behavioral psychology (what drives people to do what they do) and group dynamics (how people are influenced by others and how to produce the most desirable outcomes). I found that a lot of methods are about manipulating people to get them to do something, which is not only ethically problematic but also not truly effective or sustainable. The most powerful approach is often finding the unique drivers and brakes of each individual, then figuring out how to help them get what they most want. Once you find that and how it can align with your objective, there’s no need for constant management — they are going there on their own, using their own power. You just need to be around for guidance. It completely changes the dynamic. You no longer need to “pull” people.

I realized that what I have always loved and been exceptionally good at is aligning disparate interests around solving an extremely complicated (often seemingly impossible) problem. My approach was non-traditional and amazingly effective. The reason I started Kinext was because I realized I could help people uncover the “best fit” solutions for their most difficult problems, and during that process I could help them approach future problems differently, which would lead to vastly more desirable outcomes.

I also realized that it fit well with the patterns in my life. I started seven businesses and helped 13 other businesses find paths to dramatic growth. I realized the common thread with all of these was finding ways to jump past the typical steps or find an entirely new set of steps that led to more desirable outcomes in less time. I always looked to challenge the traditional “rules” and “best practices” because I was not interested in following the pack or being the best in the pack. I wanted to find a way to write a new set of rules and change the game instead of just playing the existing game. Then I realized that I could just do that piece and drop the other pieces. I found that this skill in itself is immensely valuable to companies, and it allows me to do the thing I love most.

MO: What are you most proud of in your career this far?

Chris: I am most proud of helping visionaries create heroes, shifting their team’s mindset from simply coming to work because “it’s their job” to tapping into their unique abilities and accomplishing things that they can brag about when the workday is done. This has the most impact on me because helping everyone in the organization become a hero not only allows the organization to achieve more desirable outcomes in shorter periods of time, but also because the benefits don’t stop when the whistle blows — they impact every person throughout their work and personal life.

While we think we can separate our personal and work “personas,” we are still only one person and thus this change in how we see ourselves and what we think is possible impacts us in every aspect of our lives. It positively affects relationships with friends, loved ones, and everyone else outside of work. We consciously (and more often subconsciously) help others to become (and feel like) heroes too. It’s a way to make a “ding in the universe.”

MO: What are you most excited about for the future of Kinext?

Chris: I am most excited about changing how people value their organizations and leaders and shifting the focus from quarterly earnings and resource-based planning to outcome-based planning and doing daringly great things. I’m excited that we will move employees from having a job making widgets to being heroes who are making a big impact in their own universe.

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