Roy's Blog: February 2018

February 19, 2018

How do great leaders get people marching together?

One of the biggest issues in any organization is the lack of congruency between what the strategy says and what people do on a day-to-day basis.

The strategy says one thing and not only do people do another, they do different things out of sync with the strategy.

Massive inconsistency and dysfunction results.

This is a failure of leadership.

Leadership tends to place more focus on direction-setting rather than on determining how the strategy will be executed. Precision is applied to “getting the strategy right” and not how it will be implemented in the trenches where the real work gets done.

The gap between strategic intent and actual results is due to this skewed attention. If only 20% of leadership’s attention is placed on the details of how the strategy will be implemented, the strategy will likely be hit and miss as employees find it necessary to execute the plan the way THEY believe it should.

March in step

Effective strategy execution occurs when there is clarity between the functional roles that employees play in the organization and its strategy. If direct “line of sight” is defined for every role, flawless execution results whereas indirect line of sight, results in people having a clouded understanding of what action the strategy demands.

Most leaders absolve themselves of ensuring activity and strategy are aligned. It generally gets relegated to functional heads to sort out by declaring their priorities that THEY contend are homeomorphic with strategic imperatives.

The problem with this process is that subjectivity is introduced at a very high level in the organization and is magnified again and again as teams are asked to do the same thing through middle and junior management levels.

And the tipping point, of course, is that leadership doesn’t approve detailed functional plans which would at least show whether they were bordering on out-of-alignment or not.

Any inconsistencies between activity and strategy at the highest level in an organization are multiplied by an order of magnitude factor before it reaches the frontline people.

Under these conditions it’s not difficult to see why strategy and organizational activity diverge and not converge.

Diverge

What can leadership do about this problem?

First, ease the precision around the strategy creation and tighten it up around execution. Get comfortable with getting the plan “just about right” and applying rigour to implementation and adjusting the plan on the run.

Next, take ownership of aligning organizational activity to strategy.

Institutionalize “Alignment Plans” with functional heads; ask for sufficient granularity to the determination of whether or not a team has direct line of sight to the strategy or not. Make them work at it until they get it right and your leadership team approves.

Alignment Plans submitted to the leader should…

Define the key elements of the strategy that everyone in the organization must align with.

There are many dimensions to any strategy but it is critical to prioritize and focus on the critical ones. Greater alignment success will occur by focusing on a handful of the critical strategic imperatives rather than trying to “herd the cats” around a dozen.
                         
Define “what needs to change” in every functional team with an action plan to achieve it.

If the organization is pursuing a new or revised strategic direction, there will most certainly be projects, company values, people skills and technology that will have to be re-vectored to enable the execution of the new plan. Details of everything that needs to change must be defined in detail.

Cancel

Identify activities, projects and behaviours that have to be dropped in order to take on new activities required for alignment.

Leadership is just as much about what has to be stopped as it is about what has to be started. If out-of-alignment activity is not stopped, additional unnecessary resources will be most certainly requested. All non-strategic activity must be isolated and resources removed and redeployed to new challenges that must be undertaken.

Aligning employees to march together to achieve the organization’s strategic plan is critical to ensure strategic objectives are achieved and higher levels of performance delivered.

Leadership’s active engagement in the process is THE vital ingredient to make it happen.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 2.19.18 at 04:19 am by Roy Osing
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February 12, 2018

What to do when you are the new leader

As the new leader, the first 90 days is your “get ready” period when employee fears are assuaged, your values are declared and the picture of the journey you intend to take the organization on is painted for everyone.

It’s a vital time for you to get traction.

Here are some waypoints to guide you.

Be seen.

Your office time should be no more than 25-30% of the time you have available. Employee expectations of you are high; they will have trepidations of how well you will fulfill your role.
You have to be on stage; you need to make an appearance. You don’t have to be perfect and have it all figured out. Just show up; be forthright and honest.

Be seen

Spend a disproportionate amount of time with the frontline.

They are the experts on customer service issues, product defects, broken brand promises and systems problems that prevent customers from being delighted with the organization.
Their feedback should guide you in the priorities you set.

Hold as many employee communications sessions as you are able.

Make it a HUGE priority. Have a conversation about your leadership plan for the organization.
Get feedback; listen and take notes.
“Fingerprint” the values you hold sacred; leave no doubt in anyone’s mind who you are and what you stand for.

Go it alone.

This is 90 days in the trenches to reach your own conclusions, not conducting state visits. Leave your entourage with their biases at home. You can’t afford to have them around you.
Empower people to tell you the way it is without existing management being an influencing factor.

Audit

Conduct your own informal audit on how your strategy is being executed.

Review the current strategic plan of the organization and conduct your own informal audit on how effectively it is being executed in the field.
Where are the weaknesses? Where is performance lacking? Your leadership will be judged on how well you advance the strategic intent of the organization, so get data that will point you in the right direction.

Analyze how top line revenue is trending.

Revenue is a market indicator of how customers value your products and services. Revenue trends tell whether you are growing or declining in customer relevance.
Take the analysis to a detailed level in order to have a firm understanding of opportunities and vulnerabilities.

At the end of the 90-day period, announce your intention to formally review the current strategic game plan of the organization.

Base your decision on the feedback you have received from employees and other performance diagnostics you uncovered. Make the review theme a response to what you’ve learned during the 90 days and employee feedback; the challenges THEY have expressed.

As the new leader you will never get your first 90 days back.

Make them count.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 2.12.18 at 02:56 am by Roy Osing
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February 10, 2018

How to create a website that stands out — guest post

There are more than 1 billion websites on the internet, according to Business 2 Community. That’s right. One. Billion. Because of all the noise out there, the chances of someone randomly finding your organization’s site is very, very low, which means you need to stand out. Here’s how:

Develop Your Branding

You know what the “C” in Coca-Cola or the “G” in Google look like without seeing the rest of the world. You also know the red and white bullseye of Target and the four-colored window of Microsoft. These companies have nailed their branding guidelines to the point that there is no mistaking who they are.

This is what you should aim for with your company’s branding as well. When you’re developing your website, make sure to stick to your specific business colors, logo, wording, imagery, voice, and tone. Your customers should immediately recognize your website as an extension of your business — no ifs, ands, or buts.

Break out

Break out of the Standard Layout

The two- and three-column webpage design is so been there, done that. If you want your website to stand out, you need to break out of this standard layout. Create a look that is unique to your business and suits the content you want to display. For example, if you’re mostly text based, try breaking it up in new ways with textboxes, bullets, numbers, or infographics. If you’re more image based, move your photos, videos, and animation around to create different types of collages, orders, columns, and rows.

You don’t have to teach yourself code to do this, though, so don’t stress. You can still take advantage of easy-to-use tools, like those listed on Best10WebsiteBuilders, to drag and drop, input text, and create the site you’re imagining.

Make Your Own Images

You will not and cannot stand out from the crowd with stock photos. Period. Hire a photographer for the day to take photos of your business, including candids of your employees, and post them to your site.

Make your own videos to post on your website and social media to help your customers get to know you better. You should show off your personality, beliefs, and values through your imagery — and stock photos just can’t do that.

Unique content

Create Unique Content

Just like your images, your content needs to speak to who you are as an organization. Don’t be afraid to find your own style, voice, tone, and wording in your content. Be creative when it comes to the type of content you publish (it doesn’t just have to be blog articles). Every word should help tell your story, so don’t waste it with blase content.

Your website should be just as unique as your company. Show your customers (and potential customers) who you are and what you stand for. Dare to stand out and be different because that’s what it’s all about.

Cherie Wicks is a content provider for Best10WebsiteBuilders

  • Posted 2.10.18 at 02:13 am by Roy Osing
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February 5, 2018

1 proven way your new idea has a chance of success

Chances are, your new business venture will fail; your brilliant new idea will never see the light of day.

That’s a fact. Over half of all startups don’t make it beyond 5 years if they get off the ground at all.

Think about it. Stew over it. Worry about it and lose sleep over it because this statistic alone should be the motivating fact that drives entrepreneurs to beat the odds of success.

Worry

My experience is that most eager young professionals approach the challenge of launching their business the same way; it’s almost like they follow the rulebook as promulgated by the startup “experts” who advocate that they have the magic formula — at a 50% failure rate its hard to conclude that they should be listened to at all!

In addition, many of them have no more than academic training which gives them a theoretical platform but no real practical credentials to prove what they say actually works.

My advice to startup leaders is to find, follow and heed people with practical experience and a proven track record of success rather than a long string of academic accomplishments.

That said, how does the CEO entrepreneur get their idea moving forward and have a fighting chance of survival?

There are a number of activities they spend their time on.

— finding investors willing to support their idea

— drumming up interest in the community for their solution to a real problem

— developing a strategic game plan for their new venture

— recruiting people with a passion for their idea and the competencies needed to get to market

— creating a value proposition for their idea and product that is unique and different from other solutions in the market and that answers the question “Why should my prospective customers buy my solution as opposed to those being offered by other competitors?”

Special

Each of these startup activities is important but the last one represents THE tipping point in the evolution of any bright idea from a concept to a working revenue generating product.

And it should be the one that consumes 100% of the startup initial action plan.

The development of an incomparable value claim amongst competitors is the prerequisite to every other action the entrepreneur takes. For example, investor interest will only be piqued if the new idea is compelling (satisfies a real demonstrated customer need) and materially different than what the competition is doing. If the product value is similar to other offerings why should they be compelled to make an investment?
And a business plan is meaningful only if the new product has been defined complete with demand assumptions given its competitive position in the market.

Success in today’s markets is based on meaningful and real differentiators. Look-a-like solutions either get no traction at all, or they are relegated to commodity status and soon disappear as startup carnage.

Ironically, I find this requisite for success is rarely given the focus and attention it deserves by startup CEO’s. They have a tendency to “spray” their attention across matters such as raising capital, public awareness, technology development and lead generation without having clearly thought through what makes their solution standout from other competitive offers.

How a new idea is unlike any other in the market is THE critical issue to spend time on. Upfront. BEFORE engaging with investors and potential customers spell out exactly why someone should want the new product and not one of the many other alternatives cluttering the marketplace.

If it is unclear how the new idea stands out, interest will be insipid and startup efforts will be ineffective and costly.

New idea failure

NOTHING is more important than investing whatever time and energy it takes on creating the ONLY statement for a new idea.

If it is done well success may be the reward; if not, the enterprise will struggle to get traction and will likely join many fellow startups as a statistic for a failed new business venture.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 2.5.18 at 04:33 am by Roy Osing
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