Hello, change leader,
In the last edition, I shared Part 1: Why we need to make strategic shifts for faster and better change that is real and impactful amidst external pressures and internal constraints.
Today is about part 2 of that conversion, which is about the What…
As a leader, what do you need to focus on in the journey of creating meaningful change on the path of executing your strategy that gets you the future you envisaged for your teams, customers and organization.
There are 7 focus areas to embed into your change and transformation programs and roadmaps
Please do not go past this point saying, “But we are clear”. Because if you think you are clear, think again!
I work with so many clients in different capacities, and I learn about their strategies and plans during my time with them. The most common thing I see is … the lack of clarity of where the team is heading and a lack of a unified understanding of what success looks like.
The other thing I see that is very common and unfortunate is the disconnect between the executive team, who think things are clear and wonder why their teams are not performing at the right speed. On the other hand, the teams do not have enough clarity to move forward and blame the executives for that. Meanwhile, everybody else is quiet and not sure if they should leave the organization or bury themselves in more work.
2- On point (focus on root causes)
Many organizations feel the pressure of external circumstances, the board demands, the revenue pressures and the overall FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). This can result in trying too much too quickly and spreading the team thin, resulting in mediocre results and half-baked solutions. While the ‘easy’ projects are getting done, the critical projects are struggling, leaving the systematic problems and the root causes very much alive for the next planning cycle.
For this to really work, we have to focus on what truly matters, and a big part of that is to get over our collective fear and believe that the process of doing less is more and highly effective. Focusing on what matters and avoiding spreading too thin dramatically reduces secondary problems. Things like change fatigue, job uncertainty, burnout, loss of good talent and the constant change of priorities and direction.
To focus your efforts on what truly matters, you need time (well spent time), courage and a masterful facilitator who can ask all the hard questions and bring the teams together on what truly matters.
3- Building Organizational capabilities
When performing any change in the context of Strategy Execution, your main focus as a leader should be on what Organizational (“muscles”) Capabilities you are strengthening and improving so that your change enables the next change to be faster and better.
Your strategy execution efforts main purpose is to enable your next change to be faster and better
This mindset shift is very different from just focusing on execution and delivery to achieve an outcome. It is a lot more purposeful, intentional and more holistic.
It is key to consider your organizational capabilities as part of your program’s design and to weave them into your delivery and the change adoption plans.
4- Move from Idea to Experiment to Evidence (IEE)
The Human brain makes a lot of assumptions and brings up past experiences to shape what we see in an attempt to predict the future. This happens on a daily basis. And when we go and try to change the status quo, we add those biases, heuristics and past experiences to our collective decision-making of our Why, What and How, which results in more of the same, just a bit different.
The way to go about this, especially if the change is transformational or has not been tried before, is to move from idea to experiment to evidence. This helps gather enough information, understand the assumptions, clarify the direction, and then move to full-on delivery.
5- Adapt an integrated end-to-end approach
There is a problem in the way we decimate and cascade the information from the senior leadership team to the rest of the teams. Teams are given their ‘list of initiatives’ and a high-level north star with a few slides or a one-pager to explain and … off they go.
In most cases, what happens is that they go and deliver, yet the results may not be the best or as expected. Why? Because the project (let me call it the Lego piece) they have delivered does not fit with the other “Lego pieces” in the wider organization.
And this is how we end up with workarounds, OK results, have another go at it next year, business frustrations, unfulfilled promises and reduced ROI (Return On Investment)
There are a few critical layers between having a strategy and executing the strategy. Things like Design, Activation, and Integration.
These layers are often skipped altogether or reduced to a meeting here and an email there.
Without these, there will likely be issues with integrating the work, team frustration, and overall mediocre results.
6- Build Internal Capabilities
In almost all my work, the answer is always inside the organization. And many organizations, unfortunately, outsource “The Thinking” to consulting firms to tell them what they need to do and how to do it. While this might be good (and saves time) in some cases and to a certain extent, your focus as a leader is to build your internal capabilities to ensure your teams have the capabilities to think, do, learn, unlearn and adapt their approaches accordingly.
This is not about sending your items to a 2-day training. This is about mindset shifts, mastery of knowledge, coaching and mentoring, and making intentional talent additions to the organization with diverse thinking and backgrounds.
7- Create a solid Practice
This is a conditional step and would only apply to organizations constantly executing certain practices and are big enough to need them as a centralized function. Practices would be things like project management, transformation, strategy execution, business architecture…etc. This step takes the previous point (building internal capabilities) to the next level.
With all of the above, your chances for success and achieving your business outcomes are much better. All while avoiding the expensive mistakes, burnout, or losing your best talent.
One last thing: I know it is not an ideal world. And I get that. But guess what? All of the above is possible and doable!
Taking time to sharpen the saw before cutting the tree is worth it. Strategy execution efforts are often accompanied by so many institutionalized ways of working, thinking, and doing things. This becomes the organization’s comfort zone, and as a result, there will be leaders who do not want to change that. Yet it seems like we want to have different results… Ironically
Some call changing those institutionalized ways rocking the boat. So, if you want different results and not take ages to get there .. Then let’s rock the boat and deliver a meaningful future for those of us who don’t like what they see, have seen enough, and don’t want to put their heads down.
I would love to hear your thoughts and what have been your experiences with the above. Feel free to comment or message me.
Till next time!
Jess “Transformer” Tayel
Link to Part 1 is here
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