Top 7 Obstacles Getting in the Way of Your Strategy

Over the past 30 years, I’ve worked on strategy and strategy execution with the senior management of Fortune 1000 companies, mid-market companies, and Inc 5000 companies.  In all that time, and across all industries and size of companies, these eight obstacles to achieving strategic goals stand out as the ones I most often work with senior management to overcome.  (Not in any particular order.)

  1. Lack of Accountability.  You need people who know the ongoing results expected of them and who can be relied on to get those results all the time.  It is a cultural problem and an individual person problem to begin with.  If it continues, it is a management problem.
  2. Employees who don’t act like owners.  You need people who are focused on results; common values, and who reflect both in their everyday behaviors.  I can understand why a particular employee may not want to do that, but I do not understand leaders who allow it to continue.  Some of the solution is on leaders to provide the right environment, treat people respectfully, and weed out those who don’t fully contribute.  The rest of the solution is on individuals and the volition to be involved.
  3. The business strategy is unclear (or non-existent.)  Having an action plan is not the same as having a strategy.  High performers need to know where you’re taking the company, not just what actions and results are expected of them everyday.
  4. The organization structure gets in the way.  In general, your organization should be designed around the few processes that drive the most value, not functions or fiefdoms.  The worst is when an organization structure decision, or “work-around” is made to accommodate a weak player.
  5. Key competencies are weak or missing.  Skills, capabilities, and talent drives value.  That includes leadership.  You cannot overcome deficiencies in this area by ignoring them.
  6. Plans and metrics are not aligned with the strategy.  You need an organization that is sharply-focused on driving the strategic objectives in a collaborative and aligned way.  There is no such thing as independent functions; if you have them, get rid of them.
  7. A sub-optimal mindset.  A success mindset, especially at the top, is imperative.  Every one of your key players, in management and throughout the organization, needs to have a confident, optimistic, determined mindset.  Anything else is an energy-sapper and time-waster.

How many of these are you experiencing?

Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust.  He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years.  Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .

Contact him at:   bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Professional race car drivers have their eyes well down the track in anticipation and readiness.  So do the very best equestrians who immediately upon completing one jump will be looking at the next jump even though it’s not where their horse is currently headed.   And, of course, the quote attributed to Wayne Gretzky is that he skates where the puck will be, not where it is.

The same is true of senior leaders — you need to be focused largely on where you are taking your company.  If you’re consuming your time on today’s needs and challenges, you need to change your perspective, use of time, and skills.  Those are three important competencies I work with senior leaders to improve.  You have managers and skilled talent to execute operating plans and handle problems; your focus needs to be on where your enterprise is heading, the obstacles to get there, and how the organization will need to adapt.

On a scale of 1-10, where 10 means full attention to the organization’s strategic destination, how would you rate yourself?  What do you need to do to improve your future focus?

Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

___________________________

Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust.  He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years.  Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .

Contact him at:   bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

Take a Lesson From The Beatles

In 1966, The Beatles decided not to tour or do live concerts anymore.  They made the decision primarily because they did not feel they were growing, evolving.  When they played a concert, they played the same songs, and most of the time couldn’t even hear themselves play.  So they stopped and explored and, of course, the result was enormous growth and influence including Sgt. Peppers, the white album, Abbey Road and others.

I have seen managers and leaders at all levels and in all functions fall behind even though they once were the shining stars of their companies.  You must keep investing in yourself.  Living the same year over and over is standing still.  Companies get surpassed; so do individuals.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Challenge yourself to learn and grow.  Do what the Beatles did and focus more on your own development.

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What are you doing about this?  If you’re serious about taking yourself to a higher level, maybe it’s time for more challenge, stimulation, and reward.  Give me a call — we’ll talk about the options.

Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

___________________________

Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust.  He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years.  Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .

Contact him at:   bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

When Development Stalls at the Top

The need to continually develop knowledge and skills is important throughout an organization.  You’ve got to have people who are capable of handling new and bigger challenges in all aspects of the business.  If they stall, thinking that being competent today is going to be enough for tomorrow, they’ll get relegated to lesser roles and more knowledgeable and experienced people will be brought in over them.  I see it happening over and over again.

It’s particularly troubling, when development stalls at the top of an organization.  When senior leaders neglect to invest in themselves, it creates a mini-crisis.  Often times, the situation continues on indefinitely, hurting the organization’s performance, position in the market, and reputation with employees.  No high-performer wants to work for boss who isn’t keeping up and is unable to lead, challenge, and stimulate the organization.

What are you doing to invest in your own knowledge and skills?

I offer executive coaching and selected invitation-only leadership experiences for senior executives who are successful, and want to stay up-to-speed.  If you are interested in learning more, contact me.

Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

___________________________

Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust.  He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years.  Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .

Contact him at:   bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

When to Stop Investing in Poor Performers

Investing in people to develop and become better performers is important — as long as you are getting a good return on the investment.  But too often I see organizations spending money and management time and attention on weak performers, and not investing much at all in the high performers where a good return is practically guaranteed.  Yes, you want to make sure that you’ve given individuals a good chance to turn-around weak performance, but you need to set a reasonable time period during which they must show measurable improvement in accountability.  After that, if they haven’t shown sufficient improvement, you need to find someone else.

How much are you investing in weak performers vs high performers?
Are you satisfied with the return?

Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

___________________________

Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust.  He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years.  Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .

Contact him at:   bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

What’s Your Competitive Advantage?

Business strategy is all about competitive advantage.  An brilliant strategy is be both unique and sustainable.  If it’s not unique, then you’re simply running the same race as your competitors.  And if it’s not sustainable, then it will be replicated and no longer be an advantage.

For some companies, technology, innovation and operational excellence are good sources of competitive advantage.  Making them sustainable is the bigger challenge.

One of the smartest moves Kodak made had nothing to do with those sources of competitive advantage.  They already were low-cost producers of high-quality film; but so was Fuji.  Somehow they needed to differentiate their box of film from Fuji’s, in a way that loaded-up value for consumers.  What they did was to shift the focus from film to memories by developing marketing messages about “Kodak moments.”  It created tremendous value in the mind of consumers — value that lasted until digital cameras changed both the technology and the use of images.

What are you doing to create sustainable value for your customers?

On Getting Good Talent

There is a shortage of good talent for many key positions.  It may seem counterintuitive, but it is imperative at times like this that you be MORE selective in who you attract and select.  Here are a few very practical ideas:

  • The biggest mistake in hiring is not in hiring a poor performer (because you’ll weed them out quickly,) but rather in hiring a mediocre performer, because chances are that person will be allowed to continue on producing mediocre results for years. Refine your entire selection process to better identify high-performers.
  • Don’t satisfice. Satisficing is hiring the first person you come across who could do the job.  Don’t do it.
  • Have selection criteria. Use a multi-attribute utility model to assess at least a few candidates based on key selection criteria.
  • Your culture is very important. So, don’t let anyone into your company who does not fit the culture.
  • Be careful how you word recruitment ads. If you state certain criteria as required, many good people will not respond if they don’t have all the “required” criteria.  You’ll miss out on some very good conscientious candidates.
  • How many people do you know who are “excellent” at communication? Right — very few.  Yet, I continue to see many ads, for positions at all levels, stating that candidates must have excellent communication skills, people skills, teamwork skills, etc.
  • Interviews are the most ineffective and least reliable ways of assessing candidates. (Ever wonder why most colleges have done away with campus interviews?)  You can improve the reliability and validity of interviews through techniques such as behavior-based interviewing and structured interviews.

© Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com