organization development

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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When and how managers should be more entrepreneurial

Posted by on Apr 23, 2012

In our last article we outlined some of the observed differences in the ways entrepreneurs and professional managers operate, and noted that managers are frequently urged to “be more entrepreneurial“. This week we’ll provide practical guidelines about when to be more entrepreneurial, and how. Entrepreneurial management – personality or situational choice? As we noted in our last article, personality differences between these two groups probably account for some of the differences observed in studies.  To recap, research shows that as entrepreneurs transition from start-up...

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A little-known secret to successful strategy implementation

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012

Set strategic priorities for fast implementation We all know that success requires a sound strategy that fits your know-how and resources. However, there’s an often overlooked but critical factor required for successful implementation – strategic prioritization. Strategy has always been about getting the biggest bang for the buck.  But this is different.  This is about focusing on a few of your initiatives for immediate implementation, while others await their turn. The concept is very simple, yet few senior teams do it.  Most find it difficult to narrow their priorities further than dozen...

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Why plan in a retreat setting?

Posted by on Feb 6, 2012

Retreats can be highly productive During my career I’ve worked with more than 100 client organizations, public, private, for-profit and not for profit. The most productive planning meetings I’ve facilitated have been multi-day meetings held offsite, usually in locations requiring an overnight stay. The reason for selecting a retreat location is well known to those who have participated. These meetings are nobody’s idea of a vacation. It’s common to work 10 to 12 hours per day, interrupted only by breaks, and without the distraction of people rushing off to deal with “emergencies” or...

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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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