Tag Archives: execution

BIV Boardroom Strategy: What does it really mean to think strategically?

MikeOne of the things CEOs ask consistently is how they can foster more strategic thinking in their organizations.

Simply saying “I want to see you thinking more strategically” isn’t direct or specific enough to help guide people in the right direction. Thinking strategically is essentially a way of being – a mindset, a way of looking at things and linking them together.

Here are eight things you can do to improve strategic thinking.

Understand value creation and differentiation. Leaders understand the business and industry they are in, but it’s more than that. You need to understand how the industry adds value to customers and how your business differentiates that value equation from your competitors.

Connect “me to we” to “they to us” (operations to strategy). As a leader you need to be able to understand the overall corporate direction and strategy in the context of your team and your own personal areas of responsibility. Think of it like this: the strategic moves we make today are setting up the operational successes we have in the future. So the better understanding you and your team have of the connection between corporate goals and the work they do day-to-day, the more likely they and you are to focus on longer-term priorities versus staying mired in operations and shiny objects.

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Business in Vancouver, Ask the Expert: How do I keep meetings focused?

Here’s a possible framework to structure weekly team meetings within your business and keep them on track and worth attending.

  • Personal update: everyone shares the good, bad and ugly of what’s going on with them. This helps explain everyone’s context and helps build trust.
  • Top three: have everyone in the room state the top three things they’re focused on over the next week.
  • Stuck points: have everyone list what the key thing is that’s holding them back. It can be resources, health, time, people, information, technology – anything. Continue reading

BIV Boardroom Strategy: how to executive corporate action plans effectively

The last step in the strategic planning process is often overlooked, and yet, it’s one of the most important: the action steps that will lead to the successful completion of your objectives.

But we need well-formed objectives before we can map out action steps.

Here are eight things we need to consider for solid action plans:

Ownership: one person must be responsible and accountable for tracing the progress toward each objective, keeping the team informed, ensuring timely action steps are occurring and adjusting the actions as reality teaches us what needs to shift.

Action steps: each objective needs to have a series of action steps that lay out a clear path throughout the year on how it can be achieved. If the objective is the “what,” then the action steps are the “hows.” It’s critical that the action steps are clear and actionable steps versus vague ideas or thoughts.

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BIV Boardroom Strategy: Adopt the right behaviours to help execute your strategy

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Your behaviour as a leader has an enormous impact on your team and your organizational culture. Understanding the effect of your leadership behaviours on the execution of your strategy is the first step in guiding your team in the right direction.

As a leader, the best way to harness momentum and motivation around your strategy is by consistently behaving in ways that you want to see others behave, and exhibit the behaviours that you want to ingrain into your culture and ultimately pass down to everyone in your organization.

Here are a few things you can do to sustain momentum and support the execution of your strategy by being intentional with your leadership behaviours:

Be decisive and take action, however small, towards your goal. When temptation to postpone, cancel or move deadlines presents itself, let people see you take one small step toward the goal – when you can’t do it all, something is better than nothing; if you can’t do all of it, do some of it. When you put a visible emphasis on forward motion in the execution of your plan, chances are others will follow your lead. Continue reading

BIV Boardroom Strategy: How to build a corporate culture that effectively executes strategic plans

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Over the years, I’ve become convinced that the “10/90 rule” is the best guide for dividing your time and energy between strategy and execution: 10% of the value of strategic planning is in the creation of a plan that outlines direction and priorities for the coming year; 90% of the plan’s value comes from an organization’s ability to effectively execute that plan.

If your organization is like many, once the executive team leaves the room after strategic planning, the daily grind takes over, the months start to tick away and before you know it you’re partway through the year and have made virtually no headway in executing on your strategy.

The reality is, there can be a giant gap between what needs to be done to execute a plan successfully and the potential of the organization to make it happen; it’s about more than resources and capabilities. It’s about culture.

The truth is that cultural norms can make execution far more challenging than it needs to be. Execution takes buy-in, emotional commitment to the plan and discipline. But the one element that has the greatest impact on successful implementation is your organizational culture.

Here are a few ways you can begin to shift the culture of your organization toward one that’s focused on execution. Continue reading

BIV Boardroom Strategy: Your company’s strategic plan needs a solid framework

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A successful strategic plan design keeps two things in mind: focus driven by simplicity and clarity and engagement of the people who will be held accountable for the results.

The more complex the plan, the less likely anyone in your organization will read it or, even worse, take action from it.

Here is a framework and process for your strategic plan that will ensure you focus on what’s important, narrowing down the details to the critical pieces around which your team can rally. Using this framework with your team to build a plan will dramatically increase engagement and accountability.

Wildly Courageous Decision (WCD). As CEO, you are the chief dreamer, schemer and long-term thinker. Before engaging your team in a strategic planning experience, carve out some time from your schedule to dream 10 to 25 years ahead from today. What courageous direction can you passionately make a decision to take your organization in? Think of this as the North Star you are navigating toward: a simple statement that sets a long-term perspective that everyone can rally behind.

Mission. If your wildly courageous decision is the “what” then think of your mission as the “how”: what behaviours and actions over time will lead to your organization realizing its WCD?

Strengths, weakness, opportunities, threats and vulnerabilities. Have you, your team members, and their direct reports list out what your organization is truly strong at, weak at, where the market opportunities lie, what external forces can threaten your success and where you are vulnerable to inside and outside forces – your company’s Achilles Heal.

Rhinos, whinos, sacred cows and hidden agendas.Rhinos are the large, dirty, messy issues that are hiding under your boardroom table causing big distraction, wasted resources and energy, and yet everyone is pretending they’re not in the room. Whinos are the issues team members consistently whine about that never seem to get dealt with. Sacred cows are the core tenets in your business that you’re not willing to compromise on or change: they’re part of the secret sauce of your success. Hidden agendas are the plans that people are not disclosing, instead they’re secretly working on building alliances and putting significant energy into something that may or may not be right for your organization. (The Lexus ISF is a good example of a hidden agenda of an engineer at Lexus. It was built in secret in a remote warehouse behind the head office by a skunk-works team and unveiled to Toyota’s CEO after the final prototype was complete.)

Values and core purpose. What core values are forming the concrete foundation upon which your organization is built? These are the values driving key decisions made at a senior level within your business, not values you may aspire to. What is the core purpose for your company existing in the world? Why will the world be a better place as a result of your long-term success?

Objectives. Use the information you uncover in the sections above to craft a series of five to 10 key objectives that your organization will achieve over the next 12 months. The easiest way to know whether you have a well-framed objective is to ask, “How will we know when this objective is complete and would we throw a party to celebrate achieving it?” If the answer is unclear then you’re likely missing a deadline, a clear success measure or the objective is not specific, reasonable or challenging enough.

Owners. “The executive team” is not the answer to effective accountability for strategic objectives. Each objective should have an accountable champion who ensures that the executive team is kept up to speed on progress and the road blocks along the way.

Action steps. Many companies stop at the objective stage and the result is low clarity on the first move and subsequent steps. The result is a sandbagged plan. Create an action-step plan for each objective that answers the statement, “When these steps are complete, the objective will be successful.”

Communication. Without a communication plan that shares the strategic plan, the reality is the same as winking at someone in the dark: you know what you’re doing but they haven’t a clue. Decide as an executive team what consistent, concise and compelling messages you plan to share with the rest of the organization, including reporting on results throughout the year, and what mediums have the best chance of reaching the widest audience. Using the steps

we’ve walked through will provide a solid framework to build your strategic plan, ensure that year after year you have a consistent way of describing the path for your business and engage your team in executing the plan effectively.

As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there.”

BIV Boardroom Strategy – Solid Strategic Plan – Jan 2011

BIV Boardroom Strategy: Beliefs and behaviours drive corporate success and failure

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Hidden within the fabric of your organization lies a set of beliefs, behaviours and values that form the basis of your culture. Although values rarely need to be changed, if you are interested in shifting towards a culture where successful execution of your strategic plan is the norm, the beliefs and behaviours that are getting in the way of action and accountability do need to change.

Since behaviours are essentially beliefs turn into action, shifting the culture of your organization starts first with uncovering and challenging the assumptions that drive the beliefs and behaviours that are inconsistent with action and accountability and then ensuring that rewards (and I’m using rewards in the liberal sense of the word to include both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards – praise, raise, bonuses, promotion, etc.) are linked to specific performance.

Here are five questions that senior teams can ask themselves to start to uncover the hidden truths in your business to build a culture of getting things done:

What one behaviour do we, as the senior team, need to start modeling that will dramatically improve the behaviour of everyone else in the company? Few people look down the organizational chart for cues to model their behaviour as a leader; most everyone looks up or side-to-side. Behavioural change within an organization is most successful when it starts at the top. Don’t underestimate the impact that even the smallest change in leadership behaviour can make on your entire organization.

What company-wide assumptions and beliefs have shaped what our organization looks like today? Shared beliefs are a large part of making sure everyone is on the same page, aligned, and moving in the same direction. The trouble comes when we fail to stop every once and a while to examine whether or not these beliefs are still true. Take a long hard look at what you may be doing on a regular basis simply because that’s the way “we’ve always done it”. Challenging assumptions that run so deep that they have become the core beliefs that underpin how you run your business day to day will likely uncover some hidden truths that are actually roadblocks to growth.

What do we need to start believing, in order to guide the desired behaviours going forward? What do you need to start believing about your business in order to keep moving in the right direction? These new beliefs will shape the attitude and behaviours that will be adopted by the senior team, and trickled down through organization, to guide a new culture of getting things done.

How can we link performance to rewards? The foundation of changing behaviour is linking rewards to performance, and making the links transparent. This tells people what’s valued, and what they should focus on. If you reward and promote people for execution, your culture will change.

What kind of people are we looking for? Have ever you noticed that when you have a critical, time sensitive, core objective that you need to delegate, there are a few people in your organization that you turn to every time? Take note of what it is about those few key people – the people that get things done – and make sure you include their core attributes and strengths in your hiring criteria.

There is no better time than right now to take an honest look at what’s really happening in your company. Understanding how unchallenged assumptions and shared beliefs are contributing to the behaviours that are holding your company back from really getting things done is the first step in creating a culture that sees consistent growth and achievement.

BIV Boardroom Strategy – Beliefs and Behaviours – August 2010