Roy's Blog: April 2011

April 28, 2011

Action or delivery: what drives you?

THE biggest progress eater.

The Activity Trap.

Churning time. Busyness. Momentum creator. A do loop. The treadmill.

To some, a soother that makes them feel good.

Activity for activity sake steals your advancement towards your strategic goals. Don’t go there.

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Be a deliverer. Be mindless about end results. About creating and delivering stuff.

Sure, activity is necessary. But do it with delivering something in mind. If your busyness doesn’t contribute to delivery, cut it.

It is CRAP that will paralyze you.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

  • Posted 4.28.11 at 10:00 am by Roy Osing
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April 25, 2011

Your career plan: passionate messenger action items - part three

Just a quick recap of the first four steps:
1. Make change your personal priority.
2. Speak with emotional energy about your strategy both inside and outside your organization.
3. Tell stories that bring the elements of your strategy to life.
4. Develop your own line of sight to the organization’s strategy.

Here are the final four…

5. Help others determine their own line of sight to the new strategy. Once you have determined what the new strategy means specifically to YOU, help others in the organization through the same process. Everyone needs to understand the new things they will have to do and the CRAP they will have to dispose of. Unless this translation for all employees is done, the organization will be frozen in momentum management and no progress in the new direction will be achieved. Get involved in organizing workshops with various departments in the company and explore a new blueprint for each that represents the new course for them to follow.

The role of translating the new strategy for various employee groups is one that rarely gets performed. It’s a difficult task as it required an intimate level of understanding of the strategy. You can’t drill a strategy down into individual action if you don’t truly understand it at a detailed level. This is a failure of leadership. Organizational leaders must dedicate much more of their time seeing that people treat this as a priority and hold them accountable. They should wander through the workplace asking people to clarify the top three things are they going to do to help deliver the new strategy and what dozen-or-so things they are going to give up.

Get the expectations hard wired into the performance planning process of the organization. It is the difference between an effective one where everyone is working in parallel to support a common purpose, and a dysfunctional one where people are working at odds with one another to deliver some things that are on strategy and other things that are not. Synchronized outcomes release the power of execution - and competitive advantage; inconsistent outcomes zap the energy of the organization, encumber execution and impair competitive success.

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6. Look up to the strategy to guide your daily calendar. The ultimate manifestation of direct line of sight is a calendar comprised only of activities relating to the outcomes you have deemed necessary for you to deliver the new strategy. If you can’t strategically relate a particular activity you plan to do on a given day, question why it is occupying your time.

Zero base your calendar and build it through the weeks and months ahead in the image of your strategy. If you are in a leadership position, ask to see the calendars of those reporting to you. Is each of them doing the things required of the new direction or are they continuing on as custodians of the past?

7. Communicate face to face with others in your organization as the most effective way of injecting the emotional component necessary to get people to believe and act. E-mail blasts to a broad distribution list, employee newsletters and other mass means of communication don’t work as effectively. These mass communications vehicles preclude the ability for people to engage in a conversation to enhance their understanding of where the organization is going.

You need to press the flesh and make it matter by showing up in person, explaining the strategy and answering the tough questions. A virtual leader is not a substitute for a bricks and mortar one when it comes to discussing the future direction that an organization has decided to take.

In an earlier Article I mentioned the Infonet sessions I held as forums to communicate the company’s strategy to all employees. They required high levels of energy and were extremely time consuming, but what else could be more important? People in the organization need to understand where it is going and they have a right to challenge it if they are not convinced it is appropriate. You can’t capture their hearts and minds if you’re a ‘no show’.

8. When confronted by a business problem or issue, always assess it and talk about it with others from the perspective of your strategy. Create the strategic context for the discussion and then assess your options. What does your strategy suggest is the appropriate action to take?

Look up to your strategy and solve business problems in the context of it. It is an excellent way to increase understanding and awareness of your strategy and solidify YOU as a leader and the Strategy Hawk. I often find that people suddenly forget that they have set a new course in motion for the organization and they look for solutions to problems in the old strategic context.

The opposite is also true; people often don’t relate the visible changes being made in their organization to the new strategic direction that has been put in motion. They don’t get that the cause of the changes they are witnessing is the new strategy. Assume the role of connecting the dots for people in your organization. Reinforce that the changes that everyone is seeing are the result of your new strategy.

There you have it. The 8-step process to implement a strategy that will create your brand as a change leader and boost your career.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Other passionate messenger articles…
Your career plan: be the passionate messenger of change
Action items part one
Action items part two

  • Posted 4.25.11 at 10:59 am by Roy Osing
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April 21, 2011

Your strategic plan should be 24 months not 2 years

I have been known to trash the idea of a 5 year plan.

The outlying years 3, 4 and 5 can’t be predicted with any degree of accuracy AND they never show up (anyone ever see year 5 materialize. Didn’t think so).

More importantly, fussing about these later years keeps you from executing TODAY.

So what’s the appropriate planning period? In principle it should represent a slice of time that you believe will have a high degree of continuity. A period of time where the degree of uncertainty Is relatively low.

It’s a crap shoot no matter how you look at it but I suggest you focus on a 24 month plan.

Not a 2 Year Plan. Thinking in months keeps execution in your sights and forces you to deliver value to your fans.

It also keeps you from being too locked in to a specific course of action regardless of the results you achieve and how much you learn through implementing your strategy.

My formula: create a 24 month strategy. Focus on execution. Learn from how well you execute. Be alert to the unforeseen. Adjust on the run.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

  • Posted 4.21.11 at 10:00 am by Roy Osing
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April 18, 2011

Your career plan: passionate message action items - part two

Part one covered the first three steps of the passionate messenger process:

1. Make change your personal priority.
2. Speak with emotional energy about your strategy both inside and outside your organization.
3. Tell stories that bring the elements of your strategy to life.

Here is step four…

4. Develop your own line of sight to the organization’s strategy. Establish a direct line between what your organization’s strategy says and what specific objectives and action plans you take on in your current position. This is a challenge in most organizations.

The strategic game plan contains lofty goals set at a high level and need to be drilled down to the individual employee in order to execute the plan effectively. Clear and direct line of sight defines brilliant execution.

Direct line of sight means that you have defined the relevant critical few things that you must do in order to maximize your impact on the new strategy. It means that you have accurately translated the higher level ten thousand foot goals down to ground zero where you operate.

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Here’s an example. Let’s say that one of your marketing strategies is to target the retail customer segment in the greater Toronto area and grow your share of this group’s business by 10% over the next twelve months. You are the leader of the Call Center operations and want to translate this into what it specifically means to your goals and objectives.

Direct line of sight for your role means:

* Revised operating procedures that provide a focus on the retail customer group in all contacts. Other customers segments will get a lower priority.
* New training and development programs for the retail sector take priority over other training initiatives.
* More call center representative time is dedicated to retail customers than other customers.
* More attention given to the retail account in terms of learning their secrets.
* Building enhanced relationships between marketing and the call center teams. Joint activity planning sessions are held; shared revenue targets are set.
* Monthly joint meetings are held with marketing to review performance results for the retail customer segment. Action plans to address any shortfall between plan and actual results take number one priority.

The opposite of direct line of sight is described by words like indirect, circumlocutory, oblique, diffused, confused, meandering, feeble, and foggy; pick one that suits you. It really doesn’t matter what you call it.  It suggests that you haven’t determined the specific actions you must take to successfully impact plan execution. As a result, your energy is dissipated among many things - often associated with the old strategy - and you lack the precision and focus to make a measureable difference in terms of implementing the new strategy.

If you can’t define a direct line between what your role in the organization is and the overall business strategy your role will be vaguely defined and your contribution to the changes required will be watered down; it will get lost in the clutter and its energy will dissipate and get consumed by the momentum of other activities.

On the other hand if you can define and action those specific projects that have a direct impact on the corporate result your productivity shoots up and your actions truly make a difference.  And YOU will attract the attention of the foxes as your clarity of thought and task focus will demonstrate that you are committed to living the new strategy through your daily actions.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Other passionate messenger articles…
Your career plan: be the passionate messenger of change
Action items part one
Action items part three

  • Posted 4.18.11 at 10:59 am by Roy Osing
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