Posts made in 2011

Are you troubled by visions?

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011

Visioning: Timing, Involvement and Format are Critical Several of our clients have confided recently that they are troubled by “visions”. But before you reach for that long-sleeved canvas jacket, note that they’re talking about vision statements! Common concerns we’ve heard include whether having a vision statement is important or, for those who already have one, whether it’s actually helping. Almost any organization would benefit with the introduction of a clear, compelling vision that convincingly summarizes leaders’ aspirations and infuses employees with a renewed sense of purpose....

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In the absence of strategic thinking, strategic planning will probably maintain the status quo

Posted by on Sep 29, 2011

How to Stimulate Strategic Thinking In last week’s blog we wrote about the importance of advance preparation for strategy sessions. A comment from one of our clients got us thinking more systematically about what kind of advance preparation is most helpful, and we decided to share our thoughts in this week’s article. What is best for advance preparation depends on where the leadership team is in its progress towards becoming a strategy-driven team. Most clients come to us in when they are in one of four categories. Each benefits from a different approach to advance preparation.  This...

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Grow your payoff by investing more in the highest leverage leadership activity.

Posted by on Sep 19, 2011

What is the highest leverage leadership activity? Since we began consulting on strategic planning in 1989, we’ve been strong advocates of advance preparation for planning sessions.  When client teams short-change advance preparation, it takes longer to create plans.  Perhaps worse, the resulting plans tend to focus on short term and operational issues.  In short, lack of preparation means your plans aren’t likely to have the desired positive impact on your organization’s future. We can’t think of a better way to increase your organization’s effectiveness than by making great...

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Strategic ch-ch-ch-ch-changes – turn and face the strain?

Posted by on Sep 12, 2011

Keys to successful strategic change management A client recently remarked that strategy seems to be more about what glam rocker David Bowie once called ch-ch-ch-ch-changes than any other factor. We couldn’t help but agree. Change is what drives the need for strategy, and change management is an important tool for implementing new strategies. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of strategic change management. Done well, it means faster implementation, faster growth and higher profitability. We can’t think of a more important reason to manage change effectively. What’s driving your...

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If you can’t answer this question, you may be a sitting duck!

Posted by on Jul 25, 2011

What is your business model? Lately we’ve taken to asking every prospective new client the same question in our exploratory discussion: “What is your business model?” A bit of history will help to explain why we think this question is important. When I began consulting on strategic management, I thought it strange that in the five days it typically took to create a strategic plan, very little time was spent actually discussing strategy. We devoted many hours to SWOT lists, mission statements, climate goals, objectives and action plans. Strategy was implicit in many of these discussions, but...

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Is Creative Thinking An Oxymoron in Your Strategic Planning?

Posted by on Jul 18, 2011

Why strategic thinking stops during strategic planning In his book, “The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning”, Henry Mintzberg noted that strategic thinking occurs more or less continuously in most organizations. Paradoxically, it seems to stop only during strategic planning sessions! After leading strategic planning sessions for 22 years, I agree. During strategic planning sessions ideas are presented, socialized, debated and polished . . . but seldom actually created. The vast majority of the new ideas presented in planning sessions were conceived before the planning session – often long...

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The Weak Linkage Between Employee Engagement and Productivity

Posted by on Jul 11, 2011

Look Before You Leap Managers often leap from the notion that “employee engagement is low” to “engaging employees will increase productivity and our strategic success”. While there may be a strong link between these ideas in some cases, it is far from universally true. Some will undoubtedly wonder how we strayed from strategic management to productivity. After all, isn’t productivity primarily about operations management? The answer is an emphatic no! Productivity is defined as “the value of outputs divided by the inputs required to produce them”. By that definition, an effective...

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Are published “values statements” a waste of time, or worse?

Posted by on Jul 4, 2011

What’s wrong with values statements? A formal statement of organizational values, it’s said, defines acceptable standards of behaviour for members of the organization. Without values, the narrative goes, people will act as it suits them rather than following organizational norms. Given the large numbers of organizations that publish values statements in their strategic plans and similar official documents, leaders apparently take values quite seriously. But the apparent lack of intention with which most organizations launch and publicize their stated values suggests that leaders...

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20 Tips for Successful Strategy Implementation: Part IV – Evaluation and Adjustment

Posted by on Jun 27, 2011

Phase IV Evaluation and Adjustment Ongoing strategic success requires vigilant management—continually tweaking the strategy, implementing changes quickly and effectively, and keeping the strategy fresh and alive. A fast, flawless implementation may yield better results than a “brilliant” strategy poorly implemented. Following are five tips to help you manage the execution and evolution of your strategy effectively. 16. Focus on progress against milestones . . . and on results As implementation proceeds, it becomes both possible and vital to see whether planned actions are producing results....

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20 Tips for Successful Strategy Implementation: Part III – Tracking and Managing Progress

Posted by on Jun 20, 2011

Phase III – Tracking and Managing Progress This is the third in a series of four posts describing 20 effective practices to help you accelerate the implementation of your strategy. In the first few months of implementation changing environmental conditions, planning oversights and implementation mistakes may begin to compromise your success. Staying on track in the early going requires more focus on action and troubleshooting than on results These five tips will help you get the most from your strategy during this phase. 11. Focus initially on progress against action milestones Results...

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20 Tips for Successful Strategy Implementation: Part II – Aligning Your Organization

Posted by on Jun 13, 2011

Phase II Aligning your organization This is the second in a series of four posts describing 20 effective practices to help you accelerate the implementation of your strategy. A new strategy is certain to disrupt the complex system of people, processes, policies, plans, systems, and structures that makes your organization work. The next 5 tips will help you align these elements to accelerate and enhance the success of your strategy. 6. Provide resources for change Almost every new strategy creates a “change bulge” which, like a pig in a python, must be broken down and digested before it can...

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20 Tips for Successful Strategy Implementation – Communicating Your Strategy

Posted by on Jun 6, 2011

Vision without action is merely a dream, just as a strategy without change is nothing but noble words.  So how do leaders turn the noble words of their strategies into successful change?  Our next four blog posts will describe 20 effective practices gleaned from our work with more than 100 client organizations to help you accelerate the implementation of your strategy.   This week – Communicating the Strategy. Phase I: Communicating the Strategy Unfortunately, the way most strategies are communicated generates more boredom than interest.  Here are 5 tips to help you stimulate interest...

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Are you wasting time and money tracking the wrong performance in the wrong ways?

Posted by on May 29, 2011

Measurement matters. It can help managers to allocate resources, identify emerging problems, make decisions, and focus effort on the right problems and opportunities. But accurate and reliable measures of performance are few and far between. It seems we always have metrics – just not the right ones. Albert Einstein summed it up neatly when he said: “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted”. Measurement usually focuses on traditional “countable” value – revenue, profit, ROI, etc. These are both vitally...

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When is a brand promise broken? Who decides? Will Whole Foods soon find out? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK.

Posted by on May 9, 2011

Is a brand promise broken when customers feel it is, even if the facts don’t support their feelings? A recent case involving Whole Foods Markets may soon test this question. A few weeks ago a Florida judge decided to allow a lawsuit to proceed against Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFMI). The suit alleges that the company violated Florida’s deceptive trade practices law by knowingly selling frozen vegetables grown by prisoners on a Chinese farm irrigated from a polluted river, and owned by the Chinese government. The produce was allegedly certified as organic by another government-owned company,...

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Increase strategic payoff and reduce risk by increasing your strategic agility

Posted by on May 3, 2011

In last week’s article on strategic planning for crises, we raised two questions: 1. How can you improve the quality of your strategic decisions about uncertain future events and conditions? 2. How can you minimize the inherent risks without giving up good opportunities? This week, we’ll provide our answers. Most articles about planning under uncertainty move quickly to the probability of risks and their anticipated impact. Having run many Monte Carlo simulations, we know how subjective the inputs to these calculations can be. We prefer a different approach. We think planning under...

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Potential for a banking crisis in China – planning for risk

Posted by on Apr 26, 2011

Predictions are for suckers . . . Let’s start with a confession and a caution.  This article includes a discussion about the risk of a banking crisis in China. But we aren’t predicting China will experience a banking crisis in the next few years. Nor are we predicting it won’t. We’re not in the business of making predictions. That was the confession.  And now for the caution. We don’t think strategic planning teams should be in the prediction business, either. The conditions that could lead to catastrophe often don’t, and predictions about economics and society are notoriously...

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Rewriting your strategic plan every few years may be costing you a lot more than you think!

Posted by on Apr 18, 2011

How often are you rewriting your strategic plan, and why? In my first decade of guiding the creation of strategic plans, I was often called to help clients re-do their plans every 3 or 4 years. At the time, neither I nor my clients were aware of any reason why organizing strategic plans in one way would be any better than another. In the absence of a reason to do otherwise, these plans were organized around strategic themes chosen by the client teams. By the time we renewed these strategies a few years later, the themes around which the original strategy was organized had often lost their...

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How are losing your mother, BC Hydro, and the power of noble ideas connected with strategy?

Posted by on Apr 6, 2011

I delivered the eulogy at my mother’s funeral last weekend. My remarks focused on what can be learned from someone whose life was guided by humanistic principles and enriched by finding the good in others. If I could connect people’s everyday experiences with aspirational goals and noble actions, I thought, couldn’t I nudge the bar just a little higher for the 100+ who attended? Thinking about it reminded me of the vital role aspirational goals and noble actions played in the evolution of BC Hydro, where I was asked to propose for a consulting assignment in 1988. New Chair and CEO Larry Bell...

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Will new Premiere Christy Clark Reorganize the Civil Service?

Posted by on Mar 13, 2011

Will new Premier Christy Clark reorganize the civil service to fix organizational glitches? Here’s a word to the wise. Organizational structure matters. It is the tool through which strategy is executed. It  defines how responsibility and resources are allocated, collaboration occurs, and accountability is assessed. Getting it right makes all these functions work better. Changes in structure are costly. Each significant change incurs costs for moving offices, changing stationery, altering policy documents, re-orienting staff, creating new reporting relationships, and making revised plans. In...

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Still using SWOT lists? Maybe your planning process is a weakness.

Posted by on Feb 22, 2011

Are you still kicking off strategic planning with a SWOT analysis? If you are, maybe you should list “outdated and potentially dangerous strategic planning process” as your first weakness! Here’s why. The Weaknesses on your SWOT list may be worse than just a waste of time – they may actually increase your risk of failure!  The only weaknesses that matter are deficiencies in the critical success factors required for your new strategy. But you won’t know what they are until you’ve drafted the new strategy and identified the critical success factors required for that specific strategy. Even...

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