The One Thing Most Leaders Don’t Know About Culture Change

When planning any sort of culture change, be aware that culture change often has an impact on customers and vendors.  This is particularly true when making a strategic change in the business such as making an acquisition or making changes to get on a new growth curve.  Develop a compelling message for those outside your organization, one that fully reinforces what you are doing inside the organization.

For example, several companies I am currently working with are narrowing their strategies to be more distinctive, and to strongly focus their resources (and take full competitive advantage) of what needs to drive their businesses forward.  In every case, these changes in strategy also creates new demands on vendors and increased benefits for their customers.  The need for good messaging goes well beyond employee focus to include vendors and customers.

© 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

The Key Difference Between Bureaucracy and High-Performance

Of the things high performers hate most, bureaucratic organizations are in second place (weak supervisors are first.)  The key difference between bureaucracies and high-performance organizations is how they value both process and results.  Bureaucracies value processes not results.  High-performance organizations value both processes and results.  They value results because that is what furthers their mission.  But they also value process because it drives sustainable and repeatable results.

The corollary is Peter Drucker’s quote that effective leaders focus on doing the right things while managers focus on doing things right.

What does your leadership and organization value?

Apple’s Values Drive Their Business — Do Yours?

I watched a Charlie Rose interview with Joni Ives last week.  Ives is the now legendary head of design for Apple — the guy who worked so closely with Steve Jobs and designed all the winning Apple products beginning with the iMac and including the iPhone.  That interview is well worth watching.

The part that really struck me was Ives describing how their corporate values really drive everything they do at a deep, fundamental, almost mystical level.  Like other companies that are truly driven by values, their values are about what they are striving to accomplish.  Here are three:

  • We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products
  • We believe in the simple, not the complex
  • We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make

These are not the standard values that most companies have, you know, values like honest, teamwork, integrity, etc.  Those values are a given.  Rather, the values are about the work they do and what makes them unique.

Think about it.  If you were to develop of list of the values that truly should drive your business, your strategy, and the way you operate, what would they be?

What to do with a weak change sponsor

Successful organization change requires a number of factors.  Perhaps the most important is sponsorship — the clear and continual reinforcement of the change message by the top leader, and all other leaders throughout the organization.  No matter how supportive people at lower levels are in the change, if the leaders aren’t legitimizing and reinforcing the change with strong sponsorship, the chances of the change failing are high.

So what can you do if a change sponsor isn’t demonstrating strong sponsorship?  There are three choices:  Teach the sponsor to be effective, replace the sponsor, or get ready for the change to fail.

© 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 Leaders Need Objective Feedback

An executive I began coaching shared a concern that people did not participate in meetings.  When I sat in to observe, the problem was readily apparent:  He would frequently interrupt people to interject his ideas, dismiss suggestions with “we’ve tried that,” or “that won’t work,” and dominate the meeting with his talk.  While he thought he was creating a ‘dynamic and productive atmosphere’ clearly it shut-down good input.

No one in his organization is going to tell him that he was overbearing and the reason why people didn’t participate, because they were afraid of the consequences.  I could tell him because I was there to give him direct and candid feedback — something many CEOs and executives simply won’t get from their people.

What mechanism do you have to provide objective feedback to you?

© 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

For Best Organizational Performance, Don’t Benchmark

Benchmarking is a tried-and-true approach for operational processes, but it should not be used to determine how best to structure or lead an organization.  Yeah, I know, finding out what Google and Apple and Zappos do is all the rage, but when it comes to organization design and leadership practices, there’s no evidence that copying what other firms do improves results.  Skip the off-the-shelf solutions and focus instead on these:

  • Your company’s strategic imperatives
  • What your organization needs to do extremely well to execute the strategy
  • The 20% of processes that drive 80% of your value
  • The kinds of talent you need, particularly in key positions
  • And the structure that will best leverage the organization’s capabilities to deliver the strategy.

A flexible operating model is by far the most important attribute to capitalize on strengths and seize new opportunities.

How well is your organization delivering for you?

Practical Tips for Successful Organization Restructuring

Practical Tips for Successful Organization Restructuring
If you’re doing an acquisition, merging, wanting to be more market or customer-focused, or restructuring to cut costs, the last thing you want to do is shuffle boxes and lines.  I learned early in my career, and it’s been borne out over the years working with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, that with redesigns, there are three enormous traps:

  1. Relying on gut instinct to do the redesign
  2. Letting politics drive redesign decisions
  3. Seeing only lines, boxes and reporting relationships as what is important.

Instead, make sure that you understand the current organization’s strengths and the cause of any limitations.  Have specific design criteria based  on your longer-term strategy — not on fixing current problems.  And be sure to consider the impact of people, accountability, and culture, on how the redesign will work.

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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, 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