Tag Archives: Wildly Courageous Decision

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

[read time: 4 mins]

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: Building a better company using the balanced scorecard approach

Founded by David Norton and Robert Kaplan, The Balanced Scorecard Management System has been heralded as a transformational business tool for the past 20 years.

The short version? The Balanced Scorecard management system essentially ties day-to-day activities or short-term actions to long-term strategic objectives. The approach includes two main components: a strategy map, which is a one-page diagram depicting the strategy as a hypothesis (if we do these things, we will accomplish these results); and four perspectives on managing strategy – financial, customer, internal process, and learning and growth.

Used as both a communication and management tool, the Balanced Scorecard system forms the basis for focusing an entire organization on strategy by integrating itself into critical management processes like business planning, resource allocation, performance management, and more.

Here are The Top 5 Benefits of using the Balanced Scorecard management system:

  • It clearly articulates strategy in a standardized way so you can understand and communicate your company’s strategy to anyone in under 30 minutes.
  • It covers critical business management considerations from four perspectives. Building strategy and measures within four scorecard perspectives – financial, customer, internal processes and learning and technology – ensures integration and alignment of business management functions. An added bonus of the four perspectives approach? Employees learn to consistently consider all four, and how they come together, at all times.
  • It opens up conversations. First, because it provides a forward looking management tool that includes specific measures of success and targets that can be easily understood and cascaded down through the organization; and second, because people at all levels of the organization can have conversations where they are informed about the changes in strategic direction, making the possibilities for creative new solutions endless.
  • It fosters engaged, excited and productive employees. Employees are more engaged and excited when they understand how their job supports the bigger goal – how what they do everyday contributes to the company’s vision and mission. The balanced scorecard system ensures that high-level objectives and measures are linked to the targets and measurements for individual departments, and additionally translated into personal scorecards for individual employees, building productivity and engagement at every level.
  • It is flexible. The strategy map and scorecard are useful for all sizes and types of organizations. It can be used by for-profit, and non-profit organizations, as well as individuals (personal scorecards), and can be adapted for triple bottom line management requirements where the social and environmental perspectives are managed along with the financial.

If you want to learn more about The Balanced Scorecard Approach, check out, “The Strategy Focused Organization” and “Strategy Maps”, both written by Kaplan and Norton.

Mike Desjardins is the Driver (CEO) at ViRTUS (www.virtusinc.com), an organizational development consulting firm with expertise in strategic planning and implementation, leadership development, change management and succession planning for medium to large organizations. He regularly blogs at http://www.mikedesjardins.com. This column was co-authored by Tana Heminsley, a Mentor and Executive Coach at ViRTUS.

BIV Boardroom Strategy – Balanced Scorecard – March 2010


BIV Boardroom Strategy: When it comes to company vision, get wildly courageous

[read time: 3 mins]

Motivation and inspiration are closely connected to doing meaningful work. For most people, doing meaningful work translates into achieving something either on a personal, local or global level that makes a difference. As business leaders, part of our job is to provide a vision for what the long-term goal and benefit of being part of our company is.

Enter the concept of the Wildly Courageous Decision (WCD)™. A WCD is a powerfully worded statement that describes the long-term goal, 10-25 years out, that your company is striving to achieve. It’s bigger than revenue, bigger than profit, bigger than market share; it’s what the company will stand for after years of hard work and dedication to its purpose.

As day-to-day challenges and opportunities get in the way of a clear picture of the future, your WCD acts like a lighthouse for your business, allowing you to stay on course in the roughest seas, knowing that any movement towards your long term goal is far better than allowing the turbulent seas to decide your destination for you. In this way, the WCD acts as a strong filter for decision-making.

Your WCD is a destination, and your corporate strategy and goals are what link your current reality to the WCD. Make it wild, so that you can easily create excitement about it.  Make it courageous, something that requires some bravery to achieve. By taking the big risks your competitors aren’t willing to achieve, you’ll stand out from the crowd and attract positive attention. And last but not least, make it a decision. A vision or a goal denotes the possibility of failure. A decision is just that – a decision that it will happen.

Here is a step-by-step process for helping you discover your company’s Wildly Courageous Decision:

Step One: Choose your “Type of WCD”

Choose which of the five types of WCD’s might work for your company:

  1. Compare to a company in another industry you admire: “The Apple of the consulting world.” (this is our company’s WCD)
  2. Compare to overall company (as a division): “Most profitable division of GE.”
  3. Target or end state: “To become world famous.”
  4. Competitor driven: “We’re going to beat Nike.”
  5. Internal transformation: “Transform this company from a technology distributor into the best diversified high-technology company in the world”

Step Two: Brainstorm

For each of the WCD types you have selected write down any ideas or phrases that come to mind and create a first draft list of potential WCD’s. You may end up with two or three different WCD’s that might work for your business. That’s okay as the next step is to test out your draft statements.

Step Three: Test Each Phrase

Test each potential WCD using the following criteria (a “no” for any of the five criteria rules it out):

  1. Is it wild? Do you feel enthusiastic and excited when you read it out? Is it bold, and bordering on unattainable? Does the path to achieving it seem unclear right now (that’s okay)?
  2. Is it courageous? Does thinking about the steps it will take to achieve it frighten you a little? Will bravery, a dauntless spirit and the ability to endure adversity be required to achieve it?
  3. Is it a decision? Are you willing to commit to this? Is it a concrete decision we can make to stay focused and on target until we achieve it?
  4. Are you thinking far enough into the future?
  5. Is it clear? Will people get it right away?

Step Four – Select the Most Compelling Statement

Read through each of the potential WCD’s that passed the test, to find the one that’s most compelling. Tweak the wording a bit if you think it needs work.

Step Five: Get Feedback

Share your newly crafted Wildly Courageous Decision with the other members of your leadership team to get their feedback. Are they as inspired as you are? How might they reword the statement? What might the organization start doing differently today that will reflect your new WCD?

I’m interested to hear about your success developing your own WCD. Please post the WCD you come up with in a comment on this blog post.

BIV Boardroom Strategy – WCD – Feb 2010