The departures of key executives from Facebook last week
are the latest over the past 18 months. They highlight a number of key
lessons in strategy and strategy implementation:
- Leaders must make the key decisions. While leaders will look for input from others on decisions, it is the leader who has ultimate accountability for corporate direction and success. Leaders make tough decisions. The leader who leads by consensus isn’t leading at all. The Facebook executives who left disagreed with Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s strategic turn.
- Companies can outgrow key people. I see this regularly in all size organizations. The person who is the franchise player for years, eventually becomes an impediment to the organization’s evolution, innovation, and growth. This presents a difficult decision — one that is often ignored or deferred. In Facebook’s case, these senior executives no doubt walked away with significant packages. For a smaller company, the transition is far more difficult, but no less necessary.
- Sometimes a company needs to make a very significant change in their strategy to survive and grow. Facebook is under enormous pressure to change its business model. For many other companies, the pressure to change is not so intense, but the need to change course is important.
A capable leader, a distinctive
strategy and an organization intensely focused on the strategy are the three
hallmarks of success.
Where do you need to make
I saw a professional soccer game on the big screen at a Mexican restaurant last night. I always admire how really good soccer players know their positions and how adept they are at passing the ball.
When we played soccer in high school, we all ran after the ball in a mass. I had a friend then who would yell, “You’re bunching!!!”
Sometime the top people in an organization are “bunching.” And you wonder whether everything is getting done, or if everyone is doing the same thing.
Be more like a professional soccer team: Everyone knows their role and there are no accountability gaps or overlaps.
Strategy fails when it’s not implemented well – when it’s not connected to what goes on in people’s jobs day-to-day. You need to connect it. And you also want decisions to be made consistent with strategic intent. Strategy implementation has to be part of the daily fabric of the organization. It’s not done once a month, it’s not something you do once a week; it must be the daily fabric of the organization. And, by the way, it doesn’t need to add to day-to-day work. But it does take smart implementation.
When you’re ready to launch the strategy, you need to make sure that you’ve got everything ready to go: Your communications, your top team fully on board, your organization structure and key processes in alignment.
2019 Bob Legge
I am a trusted advisor on strategy implementation and
executive effectiveness to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size
companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders
drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures,
improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster,
sustainable growth and value.
you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership
effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a
My website is www.boblegge.com
Strategy formulation and planning are really two different things. And of course the value isn’t in spending three days setting strategy. The point isn’t walls full of easel sheets and group think, it’s all about what do you do to make things happen. Strategy is NOTHING without implementation.
Implementation is putting strategy into action.
That means several things:
- Creating timeframes, metrics, accountabilities, and so forth, so that, as CEO after three months, you can know you’ve made progress.
- Getting the organization sharply focused on the strategy.
- Managing execution
- Communicating with the people in the organization about what the strategy is in a way that is clear, simple and compelling.
- Making changes, when necessary to structure, work flows, management processes, people, compensation and the rest, to ensure that the organization is very focused and fully aligned with the strategy.
Formulating a strategy is only the beginning.
How good is your follow-through?
Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
I am a trusted advisor on strategy implementation and executive effectiveness to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.
If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is www.boblegge.com
Making changes, when necessary to structure, work flows, management processes, people, compensation and the rest, to ensure that the organization is very focused and fully aligned with the strategy.
Make sure your organization is aligned with your strategy. It’s not enough to communicate the strategy.
Example #1: I was called with an urgent need by a gas and electric company to help with change management. The company had a strategic imperative to implement an SAP enterprise-wide resource management (ERP) system, yet the implementation was failing because people refused to use the new system.
I discovered that employees weren’t the problem; it was senior management.
When asked if they should work on the SAP implementation or department objectives, managers would say, “Work on our department objectives. SAP is finance’s program.”
Once I made that clear to the senior team that they were not in alignment, the SAP implementation moved ahead and was completed on time and under budget.
Example #2: A major nationwide broadband company needed it’s customer service reps to improve both solving customer problems on the first time and up-selling additional services.
They conducted an extensive training program for thousands of customer service reps at five major call centers of 250-500 seats and ten other call centers with 100 or more seats each. They put thousands of call center employees through training to to ensure customers were getting their problems solved the first time and offering them more services.
After all the training, the customer service measures showed little change in customer satisfaction or increased sales.
Here’s what employees told me:
“Yes, I know we’re supposed to increase customer satisfaction and cross-sell.”
“Why do you think it’s not happening?”
“Because our pay is determined by ‘handle time’ – the less time we spend with each customer, the more customers we talk to and the more money our incentive pays.”
We changed the incentives and immediately began seeing the desired results.
My point: It’s not enough to have a strategy, you must ensure alignment throughout the organization.
Exactly 20 years ago, Apple came up with a “Think Different” marketing theme. In part it was a rejoinder to IBM’s “Think,” but it resonated widely with businesses. It’s still a poignant message for CEOs. To take your business to the next level, you need to think differently about it. Change the way you look at your business, develop a new mindset. You cannot get to the next level by thinking the same way and doing the same things.
• From making products to fabricating assemblies
• From local distribution to regional, national, and international
• From producing products to offering high-value services
• From a product to a product line, to multiple product lines to ‘category killers’
• And from storefront to online retailing
Think not just bigger, but broader. To do this, you must let go of ‘today’ and let your mind explore into future possibilities. This is what strategy is all about. It is also the work of the CEO, and it must be the work of the CEO because only you have the responsibility to make these decisions, no matter how many others are involved.
In what ways are you thinking differently about your business?
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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: email@example.com.