Navigating Corporate Strategy: Get Your Terms Right

In leading strategy, it’s important to have working definitions of the terms.  Different people have different definitions for words such as “goal” and “objective,” and if you want good communications, you need to make sure that everyone is using the same working definitions.  Ask 27 people what “strategy” means and you’re likely to get 27 different definitions.  It’s important to have one definition.  This is also true on sailboats where terminology identifies specific parts of the boat and pieces of equipment so that there is no confusion.  Of particular importance is the difference between “strategy” and “tactics.”  Very often these terms are not clear.  This video provides a pragmatic look at the importance of defining strategic terms.

This is video #2 of 8 videos in my series Navigating Corporate Strategy.  See them all here http://bit.ly/1mGfyUY

Bob Legge works with companies to improve individual and organizational performance. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, non-profits, education and government. To find out more, contact Bob at boblegge@boblegge.com or call him at (585) 305-7853. Bob’s website is www.boblegge.com.

How to Be Twice as Good: The 1% Solution

My mentor, consultant and author Alan Weiss, has a 1% principle. It goes like this: If you (or your organization) improve by just 1% each day, at the end of about 70 days you will be twice as good as you are now. Where you’ll be in 70 days and beyond is a function of the decisions and choices you make now. Here’s how to get started:
Step 1. Take four minutes and write out 5-10 endings for the following sentence. Don’t think about it, just write the first things that come to mind:
If I wanted to improve 1% each day I would _________________.
Step 2. Review your list and select those you will act on.
Step 3. Do it.

Navigating Corporate Strategy Videos

Here is the first of my new 8-part video series highlighting key elements of corporate strategy and tactics, and comparing them to sailing strategy and tactics.  Take a few minutes to escape the Winter cold and come along for the sail!

See all eight segments at my YouTube Channel:  http://bit.ly/1mGfyUY

Bob Legge works with companies to improve individual and organizational performance. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, non-profits, education and government. To find out more, contact Bob at boblegge@boblegge.com or call him at (585) 305-7853. Bob’s website is www.boblegge.com.

The Greatest Danger of Success

It’s inertia – it’s the belief that it will continue forever, or at least a long time.  Success makes one feel cocky and self-important.  And it makes an organization feel overly confident and self-congratulatory.  The danger of success is that when change creeps up – and it will – the denials begin.  Like when Blackberry regarded the iPhone as a toy, or when Detroit kept sending team after team to Japan to find out what Toyota was doing and time after time dismissed what they learned.  When you’re in denial, it’s impossible to make changes because you’re clinging to the past.  The best time to think strategically is in the midst of success—before the next growth plateau and well before the denials.  That’s the time to question and debate where you’re heading, and what the underlying currents are – the stuff that projections of past data and ‘check-the-box’ approaches to strategic planning do not touch.

The Final Mile in Strategy Implementation

In the cable industry, the final mile is connecting the cable system to customers’ homes.  It is the most costly part of the entire system, and in many ways the most important.  When implementing a strategy, the ‘final mile’ is connecting the strategy to each individual’s objectives.  Corporate strategies, objectives, and outcomes are pointless unless people are actively working toward them.  Yet in many companies, little is done to make the connection.  Instead, the strategic plans get put in binders for senior managers and everyone else continues to do their jobs in ways that might support or conflict with the strategy.
To go the final mile, involves a few very practical steps.
  • First you need a strategy that is clear and cogent (many aren’t.)
  • Second, the strategy needs to be communicated (I know of three CEOs who think their strategies are  too confidential to tell their organizations.)
  • Third, you need managers who understand it, can articulate it, and have the skill and motivation to connect it to each individual’s objectives.
  • Finally, you need ongoing reinforcement and monitoring—not once a year, but at least monthly.  Successful companies make sure to connect the final mile because that’s where the power is.
What is your process for the final mile?

Why Strategies Fail

Some corporate strategies fail because the strategy itself is flawed or non-existent.  For example, former Kodak CEO Kay Whitmore told me in 2000 that no one at Kodak could figure out how to make money with digital photography, so they didn’t have a strategy to compete in the digital age.
But far more often a strategy will fail because of flawed implementation, meaning management does not do a good job of moving the organization in the direction of the new vision.  When George Fisher tried to move Kodak in a new direction, the status quo refused to budge.
The practical lessons are numerous, but here are three of the most important:
  1. The strategy must be clear, concise, and communicated so that the entire organization understands it – how else will they implement it?
  2. An action plan is always important, but never sufficient.  What organizational changes will be required and how will that happen?
  3. If the strategy is not aligned with the culture, bet on the culture.  Your choices are to change the culture, change the strategy, or prepare for strategy failure.

Bob Legge works with companies to improve individual and organizational performance. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, non-profits, education and government. To find out more, contact Bob at boblegge@boblegge.com or call him at (585) 305-7853.   Legge & Company website.