Do You Have Enough Runway for Your Strategy?

My client called me to help improve company performance.  The strategy they had developed was beautiful, like a new 747, capable of taking them where they wanted to go.  The problem was with how they were implementing and executing the strategy — they had built an equally-beautiful 5000-foot runway, but their 747 required 1000 feet to take-off.

Strategies never fail in the boardroom or strategy retreat.  It’s in how it is implemented.  Ask yourself:

  • Do we have the right message and ability to communicate this strategy to our people?
  • Do we have the organization structure we need to carry-out this strategy?
  • Do we have the right people in all the key positions?
  • Do we have the quality of management processes to translate this strategy down through the organization?
  • And do we have the right reward systems to drive performance?

In the end, we launched that strategy and achieved the levels of profitable growth they had targeted.  Make sure you build the right runway for your strategy to succeed.

© Copyright 2016  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

When Culture and Strategy Conflict

This one is simple:  If strategy and culture go head-to-head, bet on the culture.

Here’s why:  Too many leaders, especially those who are out to change a company’s strategy, think that putting together values statements, a vision, and a strategic plan with projects, timelines and accountabilities, will successfully alter the success of a business that needs to change.  What they come to find out is that even the smartest strategy will fail if it cannot be implemented, and you cannot successfully implement a strategy if it goes against the culture in any significant way.

Kodak was a prime example.  For decades their core business was film.  All the key investments, all the new products, all the marketing, everything was focused on the film business.  So when new leaders, even those from successful businesses elsewhere were brought in with new strategies to turn around Kodak, they hit a brick wall called the Kodak culture which was all about the ingrained film-based culture.

In smaller companies, the culture is normally a reflection of the founder.  If the company needs to change to succeed, it’s often the case that either the founder needs to champion culture change, or be replaced.

Having been a key part of turnarounds at dozens of companies including Fortune 500, Inc 5000 and market leaders in numerous industries, I can attest to the fact that success requires attention to the culture.

© Copyright 2016  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

I Don’t Want to Hear “Hopefully”

The foundation of accountability is commitment.

When one is committed to accomplishing something, the hesitation and fear are replaced by resolve and energy.   When one is not committed, they tend to produce long stories and excuses.

During one of my senior executive stints, a manager who reported to me had a standard reply when I asked when a task or result would be completed.  She would say, “Hopefully….”   She was not committed, nor was she accountable.

Sometimes a person will say, “I cannot be accountable for that because I don’t have full control over it.”  He or she is confusing being accountable with being in control.  Hardly anyone is fully in control:  A sales person does not have full control over buyers buying, but they are still accountable for the result.  A manufacturing manager does not have full control over efficiencies or safety, but is still accountable for both.  The challenge of accountability is to take whatever actions are necessary (within the values of the organization) to get the result.

Accountability is being answerable for results.  Responsibility is being answerable for actions and behaviors.  Both rest on commitment.

© Copyright 2016  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

Why You Need Your Own Best Practices

There are very, very few companies that have been great over a long time.  It’s as if they were able to assemble an organization, a strategy, a culture, and product/services that was aligned, efficient, effective, and driven to deliver what the market wanted at a precise moment in history, but it was not sustainable.  Or they became less competitive, or their product or service was superseded by something better.  Think of Kodak, Xerox, Compaq, and most recently, Blackberry.

The problem is that when they are at the top and business is booming, everyone points at them as something to emulate.  The admirers hold them up as the ‘way to do it’ and they attempt to copy the success.  United tried to copy Southwest with Ted, K-Mart tried to copy Wal-Mart, Compaq tried to copy Dell, and none of those worked.

I’m not saying that we can’t learn from others.  What I am saying is be careful about trying to copy what someone else does well.  Focus instead on the few truisms that will enhance your own strategy, culture, and operations.  Develop monitoring systems that alert you to changes external and internal to your own organization.  And build skills at strategy, execution, and organization development without heavy reliance on models based on other companies.

© Copyright 2016  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