F. Scott Fitzgerald offered, "There are no second acts," and mostly, this holds true for our organizations. What's good or great one day often succumbs to market forces and disruptions. Organizational transformation on a large scale is a difficult act, yet some do succeed. In this first in a series of articles, I offer my perspective on at least 4 of the big obstacles that get in the way of success.
There are many reasons our seemingly failure-proof plans go horribly wrong. One critical step you can take to move the odds of success in the right direction is to borrow a step from Red Teaming and learn to unpack and stress test key assumptions. This article shares some ideas to help you get started with this critical step for strengthening decision-making and planning activities.
There's an awful lot of conventional wisdom that is nothing more than a cover for organizational and managerial laziness. It pays to cultivate an allergic reaction to anything that smells like: "We've always done it this way."
Even a sound strategy process that effectively characterizes the situation and way forward still faces considerable risk in the form of strategy execution. Ultimately, the ideas are relatively easy. It's the work of bringing strategy to life that is difficult. Here are 4 key ingredients you require for successful strategy execution.
In too many organizations, the absence of a galvanizing vision, meaningful, livable values, and a planning process that engages employees from top to bottom result in a form of zombie apocalypse. Instead of purpose, focus, and continuous improvement, people wander aimlessly searching for professional sustenance. If the leaders at the top won't fix this, you need to spark the revolution from the middle.
Success with the work of strategy demands hard work and the irreplaceable ingredient of leadership courage. It is this courage that allows management teams and organizations to ask and answer the hard questions critical for survival and renewal.
For any leader or management team struggling to navigate strategy, there are two tools I find incredibly useful in helping groups navigate complexity. They share a common trait in challenging strategy groups to focus their energy on cultivating a clear picture of a firm's reality and then defining a way forward, before defining actions. Too many teams jump to the actions and skip the heavy lifting and deep thinking. These tools keep you honest when it comes to strategy.
Enjoy those days when all seems to be good in the universe. Just watch out for that reality check about to blindside you!
We're taught from an early age in school what we need to do to earn the "A." Unfortunately, the real world isn't that structured, predictable, or kind. Learning to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty in business is essential for survival. Learning to leverage these characteristics is essential for success.
Letting go of the past is frightening but almost always necessary for growth. However, one part of our past is worthy of retaining and reigniting: the dreams of our youth. Somewhere in those dreams were clues to our true purpose and the potential for us to be at our best. Instead of letting go, reel the thin line that still connects you to that dream and explore how you can bring it to life. Letting go in other areas is an important part of this process.