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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Strategic Speed: Post #5--Clarity

Clarity: Is about having a unified vision of where, when, and how fast you want to go to get to where you’re going. It’s about leaders being aligned and committed, people taking time to understand the problem before trying to solve it, teams experimenting and learning, and employees getting the right training for new required skills.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Strategic Speed: Post #4--People Factors

People Factors: In their global study on strategic speed, the authors found that Clarity, Unity, and Agility were the key factors that determined high from low strategic speed companies. In fact in 10 of 12 key characteristics, faster moving companies were significantly different from slow-speed companies (see p. 19).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Strategic Speed: Post #3--The Strategic Trap

Strategic Trap: Overattention to pace. Often leaders try to speed up strategy by looking at it as a mechanical issue. So, they try to manipulate processes, systems and technology. Leaders think that by telling people to just “speed up” and do everything faster, or skip over important steps, that strategic speed is magically reached. Wrong. One example they use around process is one I’ve experienced over my many years on college campuses. The contractors build buildings. Then they lay concrete walkways. But after 6 months you begin to see people making their own shorter paths in the grass. People trump process and artificial speed anytime. Better to construct a new building and wait 6 months for a guide about where to build sidewalks!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Strategic Speed: Post #2--Why it's important

So, why is strategic speed important? Simple: Money, time and energy. Between 50-70% of strategic planning fails to get traction in organizations. That’s a huge failure rate. And what does that mean in dollars and cents: Slower-to-execute teams have 40% less sales growth and 52% lower operating profit. Those are big, painful numbers. And these authors have something of substance to say about how to keep the money in your corporate profit and not squander the opportunity that strategic speed offers.

Strategic Speed: Mobilize People, Accelerate Execution by Jocelyn Davis, Henry Frechette, Jr., and Edwin Boswell (Harvard Business Press, 2010). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., March 2011.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Strategic Speed: Post #1--Overview

Strategic Speed: Mobilize People, Accelerate Execution by Jocelyn Davis, Henry Frechette, Jr., and Edwin Boswell (Harvard Business Press, 2010). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., March 2011.

Overview: In Strategic Speed by Jocelyn Davis, et al., we learn what should be obvious but often eludes strategic planners: People matter—a lot. We’ve all seen organizations that hire consultants who lead an offsite strategic retreat and then deliver a complicated, thick, spiral-bound strategic plan for the future. You discuss it, pat everyone on the back, check “strategic planning” off your to-do list and put the binders on a bookshelf. The authors tell us how to take such a strategy to market —from paper to pavement, so to speak. And a critical element in executing strategy is people—plain and simple. The authors focus on three people accelerators including clarity (do people understand the goal?), unity (is the organization collaborating internally?), and agility (can the company adapt to change quickly?). Then the authors offer the results of their global research, case studies, and a number of diagnostic tools (both simple and usable) to demonstrate four best practices that accelerate strategic speed:
• Affirm Strategies: Make sure everyone knows where you’re going and how to get there.
• Drive Initiatives: Create and sustain real momentum.
• Manage the Climate: Monitor and instill confidence, motivation and teamwork.
• Cultivate Experience: Learn from each other and celebrate experience.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post #10 - Final Words

This book presents the most comprehensive transition process I’ve seen. At times it’s a bit like drinking from a fire hose. But I think several readings over time will make the good leader a great one. Kudos to George and his team. This second edition is a real winner. Further, the appendix and the website provide tools and additional information designed to help any leader.

Friday, March 25, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post #9 - Momentum

Driving toward 100 days. Just as important as follow-through is momentum. In the middle of any car trip, kids will invariably ask, “Are we there yet?” Teams do exactly the same thing. They start running out of gas and need a recharge. So, pick interim objectives that are important to your boss and the organization, overinvest in making sure they happen, and celebrate and publicize the team’s success to keep the momentum up to reach the long-term goal. Key to any success is talent. In fact, talent management, I would contend, is at the heart of success. If you have the wrong people rowing the boat, you never make it to the finish line on time. The author uses the A-D-E-P-T model or acronym to remind leaders how important talent management is. ADEPT= Acquire, Develop, Encourage, Plan, and Transition talent to make it to your vision of the first 100 days.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post #8 - Use Milestones

Use milestones to drive performance. If you want to get somewhere, you’ll need directions and check points to know if you’re on the right track to where you want to go. It’s the same in business. Setting a timeline with milestones is the final addition to your 100-day plan. Here it is in simple terms: No follow through, no success. Anticipate things you might miss or overlook that are critical, steer away from the first-come-first-serve mentality, and integrate across, not down, the organization. Very critical to your success is managing the milestone process—keeping people keenly focused on the vision with weekly or biweekly meetings. See p. 155 for a great tool that shows you how to conduct such meetings.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post #7- The Burning Imperative

Your 100-Day Action Plan—Here’s where you pull the whole enchilada together.

--Create the burning imperative. People will only jump from a high platform into the ocean if that platform is burning and the alternative to jumping is unacceptable. You have to somehow create an absolutely compelling reason for your team to make the “jump” with you. And, according to the authors, you’d better do it in the first 30 days or start looking for a new team to lead because you’ll lose your strongest momentum booster—being new. The components of a burning imperative are the headline (an all-encapsulating tagline) followed by your vision, mission statement, objectives, goals, strategies and values. See p. 145 for an outline for conducting an off-site imperative workshop.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post #6 - Day 1

Take control of Day One. The first day counts more than all the rest. In some cases it’s not quite a make-or-break day, but it sends a powerful message that can substantially extend or shorten your tenure. People are on pins and needles trying to figure out whether you will be a threat or a help to them. Be careful not to turn people off. The authors provide an excellent list of what NOT to do—like spending too much time on the phone or having lunch with old buddies. This is the time to see and be seen by the new team. Check out pp. 130-132 for a great checklist. Also, pay close attention to the new manager’s assimilation session which can cut out a lot of long term pain. Read p. 132 with great care.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post # 5 - Respect the Culture

Remember to respect culture and to communicate. There’s an old saying that culture eats strategy for lunch. Respect the power of “how business is done around here,” and while you might want to change it over time, sudden dislocations create fear, anger and uncertainty. And those reactions can create resistance that can cripple a new leader. The authors suggest considering tactics on how, depending on the situation, you might want to enter: Assimilate, Converge and Evolve, or Shock. I like the authors’ reference to the Be-Do-Say axiom about culture and how all three must be in sync for culture to work (being the kind of person who does what you say). Finally, in a succeeding chapter, the authors note the absolute importance of communication: Your 1) Platform for change (why it’s important now); 2) Vision (a brighter future for all); 3) Call to action (what the team must do to get to the vision).

Friday, March 18, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post #4 - Take Control of Your Start

You are your best advocate, so put your best foot forward. Take advantage of the time you get from acceptance to start. There will be weeks and in some cases even months from the time you say yes until you open the doors to your new office. Use this time to do even more focused homework on the company and your role. Consider the following: ID your key stakeholders, plan your entry message, conduct research on the company and people, conduct personal informal meetings, and do whatever helps smooth your landing on Day One. Check out pp. 85-92 for the heart of the book regarding both job and physical relocation.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post #3 - Promoted from Within

You've just been romoted from within: Sounds like a good deal, and it can be or not. The company has a real advantage because it can negotiate quickly and doesn’t have the fallout of an outside exec who doesn’t make it. But when you come from the ranks, there can be jealously, resentment, and fears. Three things the authors explain in detail that I’ll just mention: 1) You can’t control the context, so be set for a lot of adjusting as you go; 2) Take control of your own transition, especially how and to whom it’s initially announced because most companies do a poor job of this; 3) There is no real honeymoon—maybe only a weekend! Because you’re an insider, the leadership will assume you know what you’re doing and will expect you to get going.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post #2 Due Diligence

Get the job first.

Due Diligence: Before you say “I accept,” act like an investigator and conduct a due diligence audit on the company. The potential sources of critical insider information are what Bradt calls the 5 C’s: Customers, Collaborators, Capabilities, Competitors, and Conditions. Getting to the 5 C’s by seeing how you might be connected (think Linked-in) could save you considerable heartburn. Also, the authors talk about avoiding the “Top Seven Onboarding Land Mines” such as lack of a good organizational model, poor definition and communication about the role of the new executive (you), failure to develop 360 relationships (up, down and across the organization), to mention only three of the seven.

Monday, March 14, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Post #1 Get the Job

You have to get the job to have a transition, so get the job first.

-- Executive job interviews are often a litany of questions, but according to the authors, all those interviewer questions boil down to three critical questions: 1) Can you do the job?; 2)Will you love the job?; 3) Can I tolerate working with you? And your answers, whether expressed over coffee, lunch or at a formal interview, should be respectively: 1) My strengths are a match for this job; 2) I’d love it…am motivated by this kind of work; 3) I’d be a great fit for the company. The authors explain in great depth about how to participate effectively in the job interview.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

100-Day Action Plan: Overview

The New-Leader 100-day Action Plan (second edition) by George Bradt, et al., 2009. Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., March 2011.

What’s the old Chinese saying about living in interesting times? Transitions are interesting, full of opportunity, and, at the same time, potentially threatening. Whether it’s a high school graduate going off to the first year of college, a new college graduate landing her first job, or a seasoned executive moving to a new company—the first few months of their transitions will be equally exciting and risky. George Bradt, Jayme Check, and Jorge Pedraza (all from Prime Genesis, an executive transition consultancy) have taken out a lot on the risk side with the second edition of their book about the first 100 days of a leader’s transition. What I liked about the book is that it takes the mystery out of executive transition. The stats on executives surviving are more than sobering: Estimates of failure rates are that 40% of executives fail in the first 18 months. Much of the time when executives get bounced out, they scratch their heads, along with the folks who hired them. Often, neither the hiring execs nor the exiting exec fully understand what went wrong. Thus both sides are doomed to repeat the same mistakes again and again at an enormous price, both personally and for the corporation.

George Bradt and his team provide a clear map for the executive looking to come into a company. [If you want to look at how the corporate side should work, read Bradt’s earlier book, Onboarding.] Bottom line, his latest book should be in the hands of any executive who even starts to think about getting a new job and well before taking a call from an executive search firm. I recommend this book to all my clients in transition as a MUST read. The book is divided neatly into sections: Getting a head start BEFORE the new job; crafting your own message as you enter the new job; building your 100 day plan (and your team). Also, the checklists or “Tools” at the end of each chapter are excellent and are bookmarked in my copy. Finally, the authors’ website provides a treasure trove of sources and tools:

The Talent Masters: Post #8 Key Findings

Talent Reviews. At the core of talent mastery are regular and rigorous talent review sessions. Again, companies like GE, Proctor and Gamble and Unilever use some form of this system. The focus will be on GE’s sessions. They should include the CEO, the HR leader, and the local unit leader at a minimum. Such meetings should take place on site (not at HQ) and be conducted before the budget is set. The discussion should include: Business Leadership (priorities, org charts, succession plans); Leadership Pipeline (lists of leadership newbies to execs, overall ratings and historical data, nominations for executive training); Growth and Culture (discuss employee feedback and social audits, plans to grow business and talent, and what the drive to priorities looks like).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Talent Masters: Post #7 Key Findings

Continuous learning and improvement. No company can afford to become complacent in what it knows. The world’s moving too fast for that. Great leaders learn, teach and make sure their team leaders are doing the same.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Talent Masters: Post #6 Key Findings

--Rigorous talent assessment means that talent masters pay as much attention to their leadership development as they do to their financials.

--Business partnership with HR. Leadership becomes a by-product of the CEO and the executive leadership with HR. Keeping talent management as a prime duty of that partnership makes the difference.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Talent Masters: Post #5 Key Findings

--Working values are just that—part of the DNA of a corporate culture…what it stands for. Talent masters drive these values down to the entire company and tie decision making and rewards to them.

--A culture of trust and candor permeates companies with strong leadership. Telling the truth sounds simple, but unless it’s made intentional, it doesn’t happen with the rigor that it should, and the absence of it erodes the company’s culture.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Talent Masters: Post #4 Key Findings

Meritocracy through differentiation. Award people based on their talent behaviors and values. Meritocracy not meritocracy comes when everyone is treated the same. It’s unrealistic and cruel to a real performer.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Talent Masters: Post #3 Key Findings

Principles of Talent Masters [Key findings of the book].

--Enlightened leadership team—especially including the CEO. Leadership is at the very core of such talent master companies. And at the heart of that team is a CEO, who is fiercely focused on attracting, teaching, and developing future leaders.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Talent Masters: Post #2 GE Talent OS

The GE Talent Operating System. The flow of GE’s system is simple and rigorously adhered to: People ► Strategy ► Operations and Budgets. In their model, leaders invest time (up to 40%) on people. Coaching and feedback are constant and rigorous. Observations are collected from multiple perspectives and used over time. Session C personnel reviews are particularly rigorous and demanding of leaders, who were grilled by Welch about their personnel. Crotonville (NY), GE’s legendary training and development academy, became GE’s “crossroads of culture.” In fact, any newly acquired company must send its leadership to Crotonville to discuss any cultural differences. At GE, leadership development of their people was a core responsibility of every GE leader. In fact, knowing each leader intimately—true talents and potential—and a deep sense of trust are at the center of leadership development.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Talent Masters: Post #1 Talent Questions

The GE Talent Management Questions. GE is the most emulated talent management system in the country. Fostered for 20 years by legendary CEO Jack Welch, GE made it every executive’s job to focus on people (talent) and business. No major discussion of either personnel or business took place without talking about both. Frank talk and intimate knowledge of rising leaders were cornerstones of their plans. Four key questions they asked were: 1) Who are the promising leaders? 2) Where do they fit and where can they do better? 3) What can we do to help them reach their potential faster? 4) How well are we doing as a company?

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