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.

Senior Management Incentives in the News

Strategic incentives are a good idea at the top.  But getting everyone one in a large company on the same page is difficult, and it doesn’t always work.  Here are a few current examples:

  • United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz reportedly has $500,000 of his bonus tied to customer satisfaction questionnaires.  You’d hardly know it from the nearly unbelievable physical ejection of a passenger, and United’s follow-up to the incident.  Some background:  In 2010, United began a botched merger with Continental.  In 2012, United had 43% of all airline consumer complaints, and has been a leader in complaints since then.  On January 14, 2016 Bloomberg’s article, “United’s Quest to be Less Awful” was published.  Clearly things have needed to change for a long time.
  • Apple’s Tim Cook made less money last year (only $10 million in salary and bonus!) than the year before.  That reflects the downward trend of the iphone business, which might pick up this year with a redesigned phone.  But Cook isn’t betting on riding the iphone into the future.  As in the past, the company’s prospects are secret, but you can bet they are working hard on innovation and disruption in other industries, continuing the path that Apple has taken throughout its history.  That’s what his focus and challenge is, and what his future bonuses will depend on.
  • Ford Motors’ board wants CEO Mark Fields to accelerate the company’s transformation and profitability beyond SUVs and pickups.  They’ve put into place a $2.5 million “strategic incentive grant” designed to reward both innovation and growth.  He received a reduced bonus last year as revenue and quality slumped.  The board realizes that making the core business more profitable won’t be enough — they need innovative solutions for the future.

Obviously, sometimes incentives get everyone on the same page, and sometimes they don’t.  Even the largest companies can’t seem to nail it, in part because transforming such large companies is a significant challenge.  But significant incentives can provide significant focus at the top.

What kinds of incentives are you using at the top?  Are they operational or strategic?

© 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

10 Ways to Eliminate Mediocrity in Your Organization

An organization that accepts mediocrity is a haven for under performers, and very frustrating for high performers.  Here are ten ideas I found in my work with organizations are each effective in reducing mediocrity.  Best of all, you can put any of these ideas to work immediately.  If you can accomplish 8 to 10 of them, you’ll sharply-focus your organization, reinforce strong accountability, and dramatically improve operating results.

  1. Improve your hiring selection process to focus on behaviors that support your culture, as well as a performance track record, and an attitude of learning and growth. One of the best ways to improve overall quality of results is to make sure that you don’t hire problem performers.  Set a goal to always hire individuals who are better than your average performer, that way you’ll constantly be upgrading your talent.
  2. Educate all your managers, especially at the top, about how they should lead, manage, and coach their people. Create “the way we manage people here” mentality along with specific guidelines and company leadership values.  Too often organizations don’t do this and managers end up ‘doing their own thing.’  That’s not good quality people management.  A smart practice is to ensure that every manager has a people-related accountability and performance objective.
  3. Continually improve your strategy development process so that you have a clear direction and overall performance objectives. A good process for creating strategy involves key people so that they all understand it, contribute to the development, have buy-in, and can continually reinforce it throughout the organization.
  4. Make a conscious effort to communicate strategy throughout your organization so that know what to focus on in their daily work to help achieve the strategy. You want an organization where everyone understands where the organization is going and how it expects to get there.  I’ve seen companies not communicate strategy because they think their strategy is so confidential.  Hogwash!  How are your people to know what they are working towards if you don’t tell them.
  5. Develop a goal-setting process that aligns effort and results on key metrics. Setting overall goals and specific objectives is where the rubber meets the road.  You’ve got to translate the strategy into specific goals and objectives for groups and individuals.  Schedule goal setting to begin the year with goals; not 3-4 months after the start of the year.
  6. Provide regular performance feedback (“Here’s how you’ve done.”) and performance feed-forward (“Here’s how you can be more effective going forward.”) Of the two, feed-forward is more effective in improving performance.  Regular feedback is at least monthly, not annually.
  7. Understand that newer employees, those working remotely, recently promoted, and longer-term employees all have different needs for feedback — one standard approach is unlikely to work for   In short:  Know how much feedback each person requires.
  8. Create a system where people can track their own results and get feedback from their peers on where they stand, what they are doing well, and how they can be more effective. Incorporate your own organization’s best practices.  Make this a dynamic system.  There are some great tools available to automate this process and implement a ‘social media’ kind of performance feedback system.
  9. Identify under-performers early. Give them candid feedback, specific improvement objectives, and the opportunity to improve.  When you have a performance problem, determine whether it is a skills issue or a motivation issue — the solution is quite different for each.
  10. Develop a standard separation process to exit people from the organization while treating them fairly and with dignity. Separating people is never pleasant, but a good process will make it easier.

Stop procrastinating about this whole issue — begin today.  The best time to begin is now because every day you wait is another day that you are not getting the results you need, and another day that your best performers wonder if things will ever change.

If you want to get off to a fast start, call me and together we’ll put together a plan to immediately get better results.

© 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

Powerful Ideas to Improve Your Leadership

From many years of coaching executives, here are five pointers for becoming a better leader:IMG_4487

  1. Hire people who are better than you in their discipline; not subordinates.
  2. Focus yourself on key priorities — move a few things forward a mile rather than a lot of things forward an inch.
  3. Focus your people on results; not activities.
  4. Demand commitment; not compliance.
  5. Encourage and reward open, honest, and insightful thinking; not going with the flow.
  6. Expect people to fail now and then. Mistakes are part of learning.

© 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

Do This Before the End of February

It’s February and you’ve got most of the year still ahead.   See if you can answer these questions clearly and briefly:

  1. What is your strategy?
  2. What is the over-arching vision you have for your company?
  3. What is the major theme, or themes, you want your people to run hard at this year?
  4. What are your top three priorities for the company?

Your people want to know how to move forward, what to base their day-to-day decisions on, and how to know they are on-track.  If you’ve put together a simple roadmap or strategy, it will be found posted in their work areas, cubicles and offices.  More complex strategies are in PowerPoint presentations or binders and they rarely get looked at.  So if you can answer the four questions above, make sure your people know the answers too.  If you can’t answer them, you need to get to work.  As I said, most of the year is still ahead.

© 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

Three Imperatives of Profitable Growth

From over 30 years of working with organizations of all sizes and in many industries on improving business outcomes especially growth and profits:

  1. The most valuable part is having a plan that focuses on both distinctive strategy and operational excellence.
  2. The hardest part is sticking to the plan by following-up on performance commitments including position accountabilities, projects, and key operating measures.
  3. The chief downfall is not aligning the organization with plan. Successful companies have one plan with everyone understanding their role in getting results.  Also-rans may have a plan, but they let organizational functions and departments do their own thing.

© 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