Successful Strategy

November 9, 2017 — Leave a comment

GlobalSolutions

I was in a meeting with a senior executive recently, when he shared his concern that the processes and approaches the company is using to develop the corporate strategy may not take the business forward as planned, but backward. As we discussed his challenges, there were some key gaps that the organization was likely to fall into that could easily be avoided with a strong planning process. So, here are a few of the more prominent reasons organizations fall into the strategic planning gap…How many of these are evident in your business?

Reason Number 1: Lack of leadership engagement

One important reason behind a company’s inability to create a visible and viable strategy is that, frequently, key senior leaders are not appropriately engaged in the development process. This frequently means that critical success factors are not considered, priorities are unclear, and incomplete strategies are developed. Leaders must immerse themselves in the process to understand how the gears of the business engage – how their domain aligns to and fits with the other critical pieces within the corporation.  Critical insights and knowledgeable contributions regarding all aspects of the business will provide the pivot point for the strategic planning process – key decisions emerge from a compilation and understanding of leader’s perspectives. Companies often believe that strategic plans can be developed in one or two day strategic planning sessions – this is simply not true. Strategic planning is a dedicated process that is developed over a period of time with all senior leaders engaged and participating – not to mention, an ongoing process that drives the ability to stay ahead of the competition.  Without a strong process for engaging leaders and formulating strategic plans as a unit, companies often end up with plans that are meaningless from a strategic point of view.

Reason Number 2: Leaders lose sight of the difference between strategy and planning

Very often I come across companies that confuse strategy with planning.  The annual financial and operating planning process drives many corporate strategy exercises – which is a backward premise. They are different activities and should be treated as such: strategy is about developing a framework that drives future actions and decisions; planning is about resource allocation. Critical strategic decisions don’t fit within the annual planning timetable and neither should the strategy development process. When strategy and planning overlap, the plans thrust upon the organization are anything but strategic in nature. Upon closer examination one may find that these plans are (at best) a collection of tactical plans targeting operational efficiency – operational efficiency IS NOT by it’s nature strategic.

Reason Number 3: Too much data, too little insight vs. too much insight, too little data

Few companies have a structured process for scanning the environment and observing emerging trends. There is either an information drought or an overload of information – generally, there is no middle ground. When there is information, often companies do not know how to draw any strategic meaning from it. In the absence (or lack of usability) of relevant data, assumptions are made that may not reflect the reality of the environment, which means a rapid decline in credibility and relevance of the strategic plan. While it is definitely not advisable to engage in paralysis  by analysis – it is important to gather as many facts as you can, within a limited amount of time, apply what you know, and move forward with a decision.  It is key insights based on the information you have (depending on risk factors, often 80% is good enough), not excessive data, that will drive a successful strategy.

Reason Number 4: Insufficient alignment, commitment and communication.

When the process is structured correctly, the leadership team has invested significant time creating the strategy together. A common result is that they come to believe that the strategic intent is clear to everyone across the organization. In most companies this is far from reality, and the strategy is left to interpretation. This creates organizational misalignment, with group or divisional strategies not fitting comfortably within the whole.  The strategy process should include ensuring that executive alignment and commitment is strong, but also that sufficient time and effort is spent on communicating the strategy throughout the entire organization to ensure there is understanding, buy-in, and integration across the company. Problems often surface when there is a lack of alignment and integration – strategically, operationally, and interpersonally.

As an organization continues to deliberate strategy as an abstract concept or simply a mandated process, the typical result is that strategic plans are not living documents and do not deliver the desired results.  Any one of a million reasons can derail the strategic planning process. As this repeatedly occurs,  the concept of strategic planning is eroded to such an extent that the exercise is taken up just as another routine, isolated from the business of the company. The strategy process should bring rigor and challenge to the leadership team’s thinking – it should result in a strategic plan that is alive in everyone’s mind, engages community ownership, and provides a driving force that guides the company steadily toward competitive advantage.

Is your strategic planning process is on track?  Here are some potential indicators:

  • Are all of the organizational, divisional and team leaders engaged (at the appropriate levels)?
  • Is there a clear understanding, and separation, of strategy and planning? Is strategic planning a dedicated, ongoing process?
  • Is there good balance and perspective between data collection and business insight?
  • Do all the key players understand their place in the strategy and how it all fits together as a complete puzzle?
  • Is every leader, at every level, committed to the strategy? Is it a cohesive group effort?
  • Is there a strong communication component within the strategic plan?
  • Is the strategic plan a living, breathing document that everyone is working toward achieving?

There is only one way to a great strategic plan –  a dedicated, integrated strategic planning process that ensures a climate of trust and the innovative business ideas of leaders.

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you mind the strategic planning gaps in your organization. Please feel free to contact me at  Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back soon for the next installation of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.

As those who have been reading this blog for a while know, my passion is global business. I love to travel and interact with different people from different places.  Everywhere I go (and I have lived, worked or traveled to over 70 countries), I truly enjoy observing distinct cultures and taking away lessons learned from each place and every culture I engage with.  In

Vienna

fact, a good deal of my life’s work is based on this very concept.

This summer, while attending Board Meetings in Vienna, I had the privilege of engaging with several colleagues – global executives and academic experts – to discuss some rather interesting views relating to the differences in business perspectives between Eastern Europe and the rest of the world.  It became interesting as the various views on doing business in different regions shifted… but today, Vienna:

Vienna is a beautiful city filled with exquisite buildings, powerful opera halls, sophisticated clothing and incredible art. The Viennese people themselves, without a doubt, embody “Culture” with a Capital C. From high art to street art, from music to theater, dance to interpretive movement, architecture to fashion – it’s all there…and it’s simply a way of life.

Continue Reading…

Winning

June 21, 2017 — Leave a comment

Slide1Are you one of those 100’s of thousand’s of “leaders” out there who are merely meeting your established goals and collecting a paycheck?  Isn’t there more to life? Shouldn’t you be seeking to maximize your own potential, walk in your own greatness, and WIN at the great game of business? It seems to me that there are actually many parities between great leadership and coaching the best professional athletes…

How would you feel knowing YOU make the impossible possible? Can you imagine the difference YOU could make if you were the best leader you could possibly be? What would it feel like to wake up every day energized by the idea of the amazing things YOU are achieving at work… and in life? To have a plan to overcome your biggest obstacles to create and deploy championship-defining strategies? To create your legacy as a game changer instead of just a game player? To know every day that YOU, yes YOU, are making a real and significant difference!

Well, here are some realities of what it takes to WIN as an exceptional leader, much the same as coaching a world-renowned sports team: Continue Reading…

Slide1Last week I was at a conference with the key focus of understanding creativity – in its many forms.  I really wanted to better understand how I could steer clients toward “creativity” from a business perspective – in such a way that they will become not only the best leaders they can be, but the best individuals they can be overall. There was time built in to ponder our own potential and discover how to continuously re:create ourselves from an artistic perspective, but it was interesting to me – there was no mention of business leaders and how we, too, can leverage creativity in different ways to become exceptional.

There were several very wise speakers, each with their individual area of expertise and focus. Despite the fact that this was not a business-focused event, each speaker caused me to stop and reflect in very different ways – I really appreciated the opportunity to remind myself that, as a leader, I am creative and need to  continuously broaden my thinking in different ways.

Often people think, as leaders, that we are not creative.  Fortunately, that is a myth. Creativity is problem solving: just as a painter sees a beautiful scene and recognizes it needs to be painted so others can enjoy it, a leader sees unmet needs and brings resolution to those challenges in creative ways. If we were not creative we would not have the capacity to lead effectively – constantly providing guidance and direction to others that may have little in common with us, deriving new policies and processes that will evolve our domain, or creating new business models that will revolutionize our organizations or industries in unforseen ways. You may not paint, take incredible photographs, write songs or beautiful prose – however, if you are out there making a difference in peoples lives and trying to change your world, chances are… (yes, I will say it!) you are creative.  If you are not doing these things, perhaps you should consider the opportunity you have missed – and re:create!

How do you constantly Re:create to impact your world?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you are creative in your leadership role. Feel free to contact me at  Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.comor by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back soon for the next post on Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.

LetsConnectBigThe past couple of weeks I have been doing a considerable amount of thinking around the value of networking. Last week I was in meetings with clients and we spoke extensively about the value of networking to the Extreme Leader and how life in the global economy has changed us. This week I am preparing for board meetings in Vienna, and guess what? Still thinking about networking and how it has changed as we now commonly work across boundaries and borders.

Here are some fundamental insights and observations:

  1. The “new” economy was yesterday. You must keep your playbook flexible because no one knows the audible that will be called next. Business cycles do exactly that – cycle, unpredictably. Your current teammates may or may not be on your team moving forward. If you need a job, money, advice, help, hope, or the means to make an important deal, there is only one definite way to succeed – through your extended network of friends and colleagues across boundaries and borders.
  2. Job security is also a relic of the past (similar to your throwback jersey) and your superior talent and experience will not save you in hard times. The day may come when the Head Coach tells you that you have been traded, or worse, released as a free agent!  Tough day…guaranteed.  However, if that day should come, having a strong network to fall back on can make your life a whole lot easier – a few phone calls and you could be walking onto the playing field with a whole new Extreme Team.
  3. There is no need to even the scoreboard when contemplating your network. Networking is not about what someone else can do for you, but really about how you can serve your extended team. The bottom line: It is far better to give than to receive – NEVER keep score and NEVER deny a potentially game altering assist. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, the rewards will follow.
  4. Business is a fluid, competitive playing field. Yesterday’s team-mate is tomorrow’s competitor; tomorrow’s competitor may well be your team’s owner next season. Building a strong network outside of the impermeable walls of your organization is vital. Take the time, expand your horizons, and build your network from every conceivable direction – it is a critical part of your flexible play book.
  5. You are brand “YOU” – if you are not networking, you can bet no one knows you. No more are you the sum of your organizations brand, where your value as a member of the team was linked to your loyalty and seniority. Professional sports teams use branding to grow strong, enduring relationships with fans… not to mention to generate revenue. In today’s fluid  playing field, you need to do the same with your network. Your relationships and your reputation are the most explicit illustrations of who you are and what you have to offer as an extreme player on the field. If no one knows what you bring to the game, you can not be mobilized as a game-changing contributor.
  6. Contribute continually – it is like (legal) steroids for networks. The more you give your time, money, and expertise (with no stipulations or reservations) to your network, the more opportunity you have to be recognized as the MVP you are.

The greatest way you can repay your mentors, coaches and other valuable teammates in your network is to continue the tradition of giving to your extended network and to continue to expand your network – it is a legacy that will continue to give and grow, and may eventually provide you with a place in the elusive Extreme Leader Hall of Fame.

Challenge: What are YOU doing to initiate an Extreme Network this week?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how extended networking has impacted your career. Feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com, by visiting my blog at Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders, or by stopping by our website at Luminosity Global Consulting Group .

For better or worse… we are all extensions of the networks we have built – or the lack thereof. Those who are devoted to the intensive cultivation of the vine will prosper and grow, while those who do not, well, you can guess the outcome…

Slide1Ask any senior executive (or successful salesperson) which single skill has helped them to accelerate their career – an overwhelming majority will respond with one simple word… Networking.

We all know what makes the corporate world continue to expand and grow. It’s a giant social vine, with people dependent upon one another for success. Whether we like it (or care to acknowledge it) or not – we rely upon one another… very rarely solely responsible for our own achievements without the support and help of others.

That in mind, the single greatest skill you can develop is dynamic interdependence, which equates to NETWORKING. This is the most powerful marketing tactic you can employ to accelerate and sustain your own success! Few things will help you grow faster than a creating a strong network.

Dynamic Interdependence is about meeting people, developing contacts and exchanging information. It is about bearing fruit… and pruning, as necessary. When cultivating vines, pruning is used to selectively remove unsuitable or extraneous shoots in your network, retaining the strong branches that are likely to bear fruit. This serves three functions: 1) to cultivate only high potential relationships for the current season of your career 2) to produce high potential contacts from which sustainable fruit can be selected for coming seasons and 3) to remove those shoots that will not grow into a valuable part of your network. You are a product of those you surround yourself with – It’s critical that you are prepared to nurture those high potential shoots, while at the same time willing to cut off those shoots you observe bearing no fruit – or worse, consistently producing bad fruit!

On the positive side, meeting and networking with the right people can lead to untold opportunities… developing a network of dynamic interdependence translates into shared experiences, best-practices, and knowledge… It culminates with shared professional development for everyone within the network! The reality is that you will not bear fruit yourself unless you remain tightly connected to the vine. The vine, your network, is the source and sustenance of your professional life – each and every shoot of your network relies on the vine in a dynamically interdependent way to survive and bear fruit.

Your pruning process will ultimately help you to bear more fruit. If there is no fruit on your vine, if there is no genuine connection points, you are in danger of falling off the vine. If you isolate yourself, you isolate your likelihood to succeed at the same time. Building a reliable network will increase your connectivity, your knowledge, your visibility, and most of all…your chances of success. Networking is about self-confidence, self-advocacy, and perhaps, self-discovery.

The old saying, “it isn’t what you know, but who you know” rings true. Statistics show that a staggering 70% of jobs are obtained through networking… Some believe that in this unstable economic climate, this statistic is considerably higher.  I see it over and over again: Many senior level individuals go far, but eventually find themselves at a loss because they just haven’t built the network they need to take them from being a respected professional… to recognized expert… to a formal leader … to a member of a Corporate or Not For Profit Board of Directors.

They have hit the proverbial “Bedrock” – their roots have stopped growing, their vine has stopped expanding… Why? Primarily because they failed to build a sustainable network – both inside of and outside of the organization!

Don’t be fooled – THE VINE IS CRITICAL TO YOUR SUCCESS!

Building a Network of Dynamic Interdependence provides the most productive, most proficient and most enduring tactic to build professional relationships. To succeed you need to continually connect with new people, cultivate emerging relationships and leverage your network.

Final Advice:

There are many “vines” out there…

  1. You will get out of your network only what you put into it. If you attend events and meetings on a passive level, at best your network will become a novel social forum. You risk losing the fundamental reasons why you should seek to extend your vine in the first place.
  2. Dynamic Interdependence is not about belonging to a formal group — it’s critical to network both within your work environment and outside of it (for obvious reasons).
  3. Finally, do not just hunker down and do good work and wait for the world to stop and notice (as most people do) – it just won’t happen!

The truth is, you make your own choices. As a successful businessperson, will you choose to make your way alone or seek Dynamic Interdependence?

How Will You Focus  On Extending Your Vine?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how networking has helped you to exceed your potential. Feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com, by visiting my blog at Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders, or by stopping by our website at Luminosity Global Consulting Group .