Got Strategy?

Strategy is complex; it involves making tough choices, choosing what to do, and choosing what not to do. Good Strategy changes the actions and behaviors of the organization’s workforce.

Every company says they have a Strategy; many do not, including those that believe they do.

Let’s start by seeing what Strategy is not. When the redundant, non-essential, and distracting elements are removed, what remains begins to look more like Strategy.

Strategy is critical to business success. Creating and executing an effective business strategy is a task that the CEO and C-Suite cannot readily delegate to others. When Strategy is weak, objectives are unclear, resources are not properly allocated, communication and marketing are inconsistent, competitive advantage is eroded, and financial goals are not met. Operating with a flawed strategy that is not a strategy at all will lead to poorer outcomes for the business.

Richard Rumelt in Good Strategy/Bad Strategy concisely states that to detect bad Strategy, look for one of the following:

1. Fluff: Bad Strategy is a simple statement of the obvious combined with a generous sprinkling of buzzwords creating the illusion of high-level thinking. It may sound Strategic but lacks any actionable direction.2. Failure to face the challenge: Bad Strategy does not define or recognize the business’s challenge.
3. Mistaking Goals for Strategy: Goals or desires are not strategies. Goals support the Mission; Strategy supports and directs how the Goals are to be achieved.
4. Bad strategic objectives: Strategic objectives are set by the leaders. Strategic objectives are wrong when they do not address critical issues or challenges.

Strategy is not Vision or Misson.
Strategy is not Goals or Objectives.
Strategy is not a Powerpoint presentation or slide deck.
Strategy is not a mashup of words with Strategy added to it.
Strategy is not just another good thing to do.

Strategy is complex; it involves making tough choices, choosing what to do, and choosing what not to do. Good Strategy changes the actions and behaviors of the organization’s workforce.

“Strategy brings relative strength against relative weakness.”

Richard Rumelt

Making these decisions is hard. It requires focusing on what you are building and letting go of that which no longer serves your objectives.

Letting go is hard.

So, how good is your Strategy?

Teamwork: a Work in progress

A well-orchestrated and cohesive team can accomplish magnitudes more than any single member could. 

Teamwork visualized.

I love F1, the speed, the colors, the venues, the technology, and the Teamwork.

Pit stops are one of the most exciting elements of a Formula 1 race. They’re loud, critical, lightning-quick, and can be the difference between victory and defeat.

It looks like this (#RedBullRacing World Record)

 

The pit crew makes a great example of Teamwork professionals.

How are over 20 individuals transformed into a single cohesive Team that can accomplish their work in under 2 seconds?  It does not happen by accident.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” VanGogh

Teamwork elements include:

  • Practice and Rehearsal, to build “memory”
  • Goals, so you know where you are going and when you get there.
  • Accountability, so every team member is responsible for their actions.
  • Review and Debriefs, never stop learning.
  • Coaching, to encourage continuous improvement.
  • Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication.
  • Listening and Questioning, so you will better understand the individual challenges.

It’s not drama.

“venting, gossiping, scorekeeping, tattling, judging, resisting change, withholding buy-in, and you know the drill … drama.” @cywakeman

A well-orchestrated and cohesive team can accomplish magnitudes more than any single member could.  This is the power and leverage of Teamwork, enabling an organization to achieve its goals in the most efficient and rapid means possible.  The entire process can be repeated, enhanced, and accelerated with each iteration.  Successful Teams can accomplish more goals while enjoying a joyful workplace.

 

 

 

Are You Sending Mixed Signals?

Short-circuiting clear communication channels with “on-the-fly” changes, micromanaging, and reassigning tasks throws a “monkey wrench” into the operation.

 

Is it possible that you are sending mixed signals to your Team?

Some days it’s a “GO,” others it’s “STOP,” with a few “MAYBES” in-between.

Alternatively;
Do you say one thing yet act differently?
Do your instructions and guidelines change constantly?
Do you have “favorites” on your Team or in your workplace?
Do you keep some people incompletely informed?

Some signs that this could be occurring maybe;
You are repeating instructions to your Team.
Work is delayed or must be redone.
The same mistakes are made repeatedly.
You find yourself doing tasks that you have asked others to do.
You are a micromanager and perfectionist.
Drama has resurfaced within your Teams.

All workplaces, Teams, and C-Suites are faced with management challenges. To achieve optimal results, all stakeholders must be working towards a common result. Executives must provide clear goals that support strategic objectives. Clear and precise communication is essential. The actionable part, the tactics, can then be implemented and monitoring delegated to the managers. Short-circuiting clear communication channels with “on-the-fly” changes, micromanaging, and reassigning tasks throws a “monkey wrench” into the operation. These actions delay results, risking subpar performance and falling short of your goals.

Try the following;

1) Assign a project or task.
2) Determine what deliverables you desire.
3) Set a due date or date for a progress report.
4) Delegate the above.
5) Don’t intervene or interfere.
6) Watch what magic happens.

Try it; you’ll like it.

 

Analysis Paralysis…try this Instead

A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between “almost right” and “possibly wrong”

Analysis Paralysis…

Do you seek additional information constantly when faced with making a choice? Once you have more information, does that satisfy you or create even more questions that now require more information and analysis. Does this cycle ever repeat, causing needless delays, postponements and cancellations? Have you fallen down the rabbit hole of information overload?

If so, you may be suffering from Analysis Paralysis.

The good news is that there is a cure.

It starts by realizing Perfection does not exist. One’s constant search for Perfection in knowledge and information is unattainable; it is a stall tactic.

It may be more Indecisiveness that is preventing you from moving forward.

The Father of Modern Business Management, Peter Drucker, provides the best cure for Analysis Paralysis:

“A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between “almost right” and “possibly wrong”- but much more often a choice between two courses of action neither of which is provably more nearly right than the other.”

Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive

I fall back on that last sentence frequently.

I hope it helps you too!

 

Skip the New Year’s Resolutions and Try this Instead

…the only time we have to accomplish anything is TODAY!

 

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I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions!

There, I said it!

If making New Year’s Resolutions were so effective, we would find ourselves constantly making new ones as we conquered the old ones. Unfortunately, less than 10% of those making New Year’s Resolutions successfully achieve lasting Change; 90% fail. Not very good odds. Not a very good plan to start the New Year.

The problem is that the same things keep recurring on our list of Resolutions; lose weight, spend more time with family and friends, spend less time on our devices, save more, spend less, etc. At times our goals are too vague; other times, they may be specific yet unattainable. Either way, you are set up for failure before you even start.

I suggest a different approach beginning with the fact that there is nothing magical about January 1st.

Consider this, the only time we have to accomplish anything is TODAY!

“The best time to do something significant is between Yesterday and Tomorrow. ”     

Zig Ziglar

Let’s learn from YESTERDAY and PLAN for Tomorrow, but TODAY choose to ACT!

ACTION is the only path to achieving Change.

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to Love, Believe, Do and mostly Live.”           

Dalai Lama XIV

Think, if you had to relive Yesterday, what would you do differently? What time was wasted? What could have been done better? What did Yesterday teach you that you can use to improve your Today? The slightest improvement from Yesterday is a better you Today! Repeat that cycle every day, and over time you will have achieved the Change you desire. You begin Coaching yourself, finding the minor blemishes, flaws, and defects that can be improved over time.

Enjoy the journey; it is with you every day.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

Carl Rogers

Start small; you will quickly achieve success by doing so, reinforcing your new habit. 

If you are stuck, consider the following:

  • Engage your brain and body every day.
  • Focus and finish what you start.
  • Learn to say “No” more.
  • Be more present when in the company of others.
  • Live Strategically rather than reactively. 
  • Avoid Regret.
  • Make better decisions by studying the outcomes of prior decisions.

What did your Yesterday teach you that you would do differently and improve on Today?

Start NOW!

 

 

Going Slow in the Fast Lane

Are we or someone we know Driving Slow in the Fast Lane? Is this slowing others up or hindering their progress?

 

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I drive the interstate frequently during my daily commute.

At times it can become a monotonous and hypnotizing experience. I spend the drive time listening to music, podcasts, books on tape, along with thinking and planning my day. Finally, you look around and realize that you don’t remember all the exits you just passed or how long you were deep in thought. It’s crazy how that happens.

It’s like you are on autopilot.

It must happen to others, too, because I encounter a driver going Slow in the Fast Lane, the passing lane every day. And it’s not just cars; trucks are even worse offenders. How could a tractor-trailer driver think they could go “fast” uphill, in the passing lane, yet never do?

The question is, how do I get back up to speed?

So, this got me thinking, having noticed similar scenarios in business with co-workers and employees. They, too, can end up, somehow, going Slow in the Fast lane, hindering the progress of those around them.

The way I see it, there are three possible solutions to remove this obstacle.

The Selfish Way: speed up, swerve around them and leave them behind. In the workplace, this might show itself as manipulation, micromanaging, drama and gossip.

The Get-Out-of-My-Way Way: ride their bumper, flash your high beams and wait for them to change lanes. Highly critical co-workers who exclude and ignore others are demonstrating a Get-Out-of-My-Way mindset.

The Awareness Way: the individual realizes they are hindering others and either speeds up or switches lanes. At work, this is a growth mindset, open to learning, coaching, changing, and helping others achieve their goals.

Do you recognize any of these individuals or behaviors in your workplace?

Are we or someone we know Driving Slow in the Fast Lane? Is this slowing others up or hindering their progress? Are our actions, unbeknownst to ourselves, preventing others from accelerating in their lanes?

Awareness is the first step; taking action is next.

What is your plan to accelerate your Team?

I am asking for a friend.

I/O- Input to Output- How is Yours?

More is not always better.  Better is better.

 

So, how is your Input to Output.?

If you are like most people today your I to O ratio is magnitudes greater than one.  We receive inputs from so many sources in our connected and web-enabled world.  Sometimes though the inputs are so numerous that we can’t possibly interpret or make sense out of them.

More is not always better.  Better is better.

Somehow we must filter all these inputs so we can produce an output that is valuable to us and what we wish to accomplish.

Stop seeking more and more complexity like a Rube Goldberg Machine.

Seek Quality Inputs rather than Quantity.  This way you have a fighting chance to obtain the Output you desire.

One day you might get more Out than was put In!

 

 

Engine or Caboose? Lead or Follow? Which one are you?

The magic happens at the Engine, seeing what lies ahead and choosing when, where, and how you will get there.

Engine or Caboose?

Lead or Follow?

It’s a simple choice, one or the other. There is no middle ground.

How often do you follow someone else’s recommendation or idea? It could be a product choice, investment idea, or business decision.

At times being the Caboose feels safer. It’s easier to be pulled along, not having to determine where, when, and how fast you will travel.

The magic happens at the Engine, seeing what lies ahead and choosing when, where, and how you will get there.

You can’t lead from behind.

Information: What can you Remove and not Notice?

We can filter the information we receive and consume in much the same way to help reduce Noise and make the information Signal clearer.

We are inundated with information and data every day. With information, more is not always better.

Every day we use data in the form of sound and images, which have undergone some form of data compression to make transmission, use, and storage more efficient.

We have GIF, JPG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, VECTOR, and RAW data formats with imaging. Audio formats include MP#, ACC, WAV, FLAC, and AIFF, to name a few. When we enjoy viewing pictures or listening to music, we are not thinking of the data that has been removed; we are enjoying the benefits of technology that has chosen to optimize for our benefit.

We can filter the information we receive and consume in much the same way to help reduce Noise and make the information Signal clearer.

Do you use Social Media for information (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), or do you have a News Outlet you go to (NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times)? You might aggregate your favorite websites and blog posts using RSS feeds, or you might search more precisely with Google Scholar or PubMed. Finally, you might go directly to the primary source, including Books or Journal Articles.

Whatever your choice, make sure your source fits your needs and intended use. More information is not helpful if Paralysis Analysis sets in. Are you optimizing for Speed, Size, or Quality?

Information is endless today. Know your objective before you embark on your search.

 

More Signal or More Noise? Which Do You Provide? Prefer?

Signals are filled with valuable information, are received gladly, and consumed entirely, leaving the recipient anxious to hear from you again.

 

How do you communicate with your audience? your customers? your patients?

Do you send Signals? or Do you send Noise?

Signals are filled with valuable information, are received gladly, and consumed entirely, leaving the recipient anxious to hear from you again.

Noise is annoying, it interrupts,  it steals our attention, it’s phony, it’s malarky.  Noise is avoided, deleted, and ignored.  If consumed by accident it leaves the recipient feeling flimflammed.

Which do you prefer to receive? Signals or Noise?

Today’s Markets are exceedingly Noisy. Seems everyone is competing for the attention of someone. You are told you must have the most Likes, Follows, and Shares to be of any value. If you don’t you must fix and improve those Metrics or risk falling behind. Falling behind? I didn’t know this was a race!

The tactics to inflate your social media metrics are pure noise. It must be to gain the attention of someone, anyone. In the process, you risk annoying the exact audience you wish to serve. Too many Click baits, pop-ups, emails, or newsletters and you run the chance of being deleted, unfollowed, and turned off. You lost your chance to create a loyal customer.

Try instead to send Signals, something of Value that is received with excitement. The Signal is so clear and that it is received with anticipation. This Signal would be missed if not received.

These valuable Signals must be uniquely crafted for the people you wish to serve and the change you wish to create. These Signals should serve to inform and educate, not sell. These Signals can be Art of various forms as well. Whichever medium or content your audience prefers delivered through their preferred channel.

Signals are Content that Informs and Educate.

Your website, blog, newsletter, pdf’s, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts must contain your original content, content that you own, not content that is “canned”, “subscribed to”, or “templated”. You can’t be different, stand out, or be found if you look like everyone else.

Yes, this is hard work. Yes, this takes effort and thought. Do the work and your audience and influence will grow.