business

Problem solving isn’t highly overrated . . .

Posted by on May 8, 2012

. . . when you’re solving the right problems. Last week I read an article by Lorne Armstrong titled “Problem Solving is Highly Over-rated”. It tweaked my interest since much of my work involves helping leaders to clearly define, and to avoid or overcome, important strategic problems. When a blog article makes a few good, practical points that readers can use immediately, the writer has hit the mark. Armstrong succeeds. He points to common deficiencies that undermine the value of problem-solving, beginning with weak problem definition. For example, he notes that many people cite the absence...

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Two practical ways to implement your strategic priorities FAST

Posted by on Feb 29, 2012

In all my years as a management consultant, one of the funniest expressions I’ve heard is “it may work in practice, but it will never fly in theory”. Our last two articles on strategic prioritization were more theoretical and conceptual, but this week, let’s get practical. Senior managers may put a lot of effort into selecting the right strategic priorities, but it goes for naught unless they’re converted to action.  This week we’ll describe two simple, practical ways to convert your priorities to understanding throughout the organization, and most importantly, ACTION at the front lines....

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Are CEOs really overpaid and mostly not worth it? Part 2

Posted by on Jan 16, 2012

Last week, in Part 1 of this topic, we introduced the following questions: Are the highest paid CEOs really worth what they’re being paid? And does paying top dollar for a CEO add to the bottom line, where it really matters? The answers, supported by studies cited last week, are that the Fortune and FT 500 firms with the highest paid CEOs experienced negative abnormal returns over the subsequent 5 year period. (See details in Part 1 of this report.) This week we’ll explore more data and review opinions from some of the top researchers in the field of executive pay. We’ll answer 2 key...

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Are CEOs really overpaid and mostly not worth it? Part 1

Posted by on Jan 10, 2012

Are the highest paid CEOs really worth what they’re being paid? And does paying top dollar for a CEO add to the bottom line, where it really matters? CEO compensation has come under the spotlight in recent years like never before. Smoldering public outrage burst into a brush fire after the US government bailed out major financial institutions with more than 1 trillion dollars in taxpayer money only to see some of it doled out as bonuses to bank executives whose actions either caused the debacle or whose inaction allowed it to happen. The discontent this has sparked now threatens to spread....

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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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