Posts Tagged leadership

Stop the merry-go-round, achieve results #resolveissues

How many meetings do you attend where you wished you were somewhere else?  You know the ones, a talkfest, nothing resolved, roadblocks and reasons why you can’t rather than how you can!

Yep, frustrating in the extreme.  Well here are some simple steps and tricks to make meetings more productive.

  1. Firstly avoid the tendency for discussions to wander off at tangents.  Keep asking “what is the issue we are here to address” and push to keep discussion around that issue.
  2. Seek out what the outcome would look like if everything was perfect.   Avoid the tendency for groups to jump to the solution right up front, usually it will be the wrong one!
  3. Work on all the options to solve the issue, there will be one that works the best, is easiest to get done and will have lasting effects.
  4. Choose the best option and get on with implementing it.

One of the great things about this approach is that everyone at the meeting gets ownership of the decision and hence ownership of the result.  So there is no excuse for anyone to disengage or refuse to participate in being part of the activities which will be undertaken after the meeting to resolve the issue.

If you allow a dominate player to force their idea on the group (usually they will try this early in proceedings) and don’t go through this collaborative approach then you will generally find the roadblocks will start to emerge early in the meeting and at some point either the group defers to the loudest voice or decides to defer a decision and meet again at some future time.  And the cycle repeats at the next meeting, you recognise this don’t you.

It is important to break this cycle, eliminate the impasse and gain consensus.  A productive use of yours and everyone else’s time and ultimately more effective and efficient business operations.

Doesn’t that sound like the type of meeting you would want to attend?



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Making strategy stick

I think it was Winston Churchill who stated something to the effect, strategic plans are wonderful things but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a look at the results.

What he was in some ways getting at is that one of the big problems all organisations face is getting strategy executed.  And if you don’t execute it is pretty hard to get results.

Jeroen De Flander, the author of Strategy Execution Heroes noted in his book that:

  • 15% of people believe the strategies are the wrong ones.
  • 30% don’t receive info on how to execute the strategy.
  • 40% believe strategic initiatives are not staffed with the right people.
  • 27% believe strategic initiatives are being managed correctly.
  • 18% are unable to explain how to translate strategy or set individual objectives.

Pretty poor numbers by any measure!

Now couple that to change leadership group Prosci’s research on the impediments to change and you can soon see why so many plans fail to get executed.

They found over many years of research that the biggest obstacles to change are:

  1. Ineffective change management sponsorship from senior leaders
  2. Insufficient change management resourcing
  3. Resistance to change from employees
  4. Middle-management resistance
  5. Poor communication

Major shifts in strategic initiatives require strong change leadership to get them through.  I have been advocating that the whole process can be made easier by involving those who will have to implement the strategies in the development of them.  Of course in large organisations or those widely dispersed over the globe this is not allways practical.  Sensitive change leadership will be a key skill that managers will need to get the strategies into place.

In my experience resistance at middle management has a major bearing on the success or otherwise of the organisation.   Engaging change champions across all levels and locations of the organisation and giving them direct access to senior management goes a long way to lessening this hurdle.   Harness the energy of those seeking change and make it easy for those sitting on the fence to come over to the new thinking.

So just because your team comes up with a great strategy, one that is going to help your business grow and prosper doesn’t mean that the entire team is going to welcome the new direction with open arms.  Have a look at the issues above, work out which apply in your organisation and start implementing activities which will give the new strategic direction the best possible opportunity of seeing the light of day.

The old cliche – failing to plan is planning to fail is only part of the story, failing to plan and manage the implementation is just as big an issue as having no plan at all.




Going forward but looking backwards – a recipe for disaster #strategy

When I was in charge of organisation development in a major company I had to undertake exit interviews when staff left our employment.

I can still remember one young employee, one very good at his job, telling me he couldn’t work for his boss anymore. He explained it was like sitting in the back seat of a car with his boss driving but looking out the back window of the car rather than the windscreen.

A little more research told me he wasn’t making it up. I moved his boss into a new role and put someone in charge of those staff who could lead.

So what is the story here?

Well, in this fast paced changing world you can’t be someone who is looking out the rear window. Sure it has some lessons you can learn but don’t spend too much time there, just use the rearview to seek predictable patterns, particularly from more mature markets! You need to be future ready not past wise.

Being future ready means searching out innovation and innovative ideas, collaborating with colleagues and peers and testing theories and models, particularly with your customers.

Testing means destroying mind sets and challenging sacred cows. Testing means looking at new business models, new markets, new entrants, new pricing structures, resource failures or constraints, partner failures …………… Lots of looking up the road asking what if?

As the great blues guitarist BB King sang, “You better not look down if you want to keep on flying, put the hammer down, don’t look back”

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