New Perspectives
Welcome to the Strateco blog, where we share fresh perspectives, practices and tools on how to better navigate the complexity of strategy, leadership development, culture and change. If our ideas resonate, please join our growing community and share.

Your Strategy is Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

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Ask any leader what the key to a high performing organization is, and
they’ll typically say “execution” which boils down to high performing
people.  But what do you do when you have someone on your senior
team who is not performing – and continues to underperform despite
your investment in performance reviews, coaching and mentoring?
The answer is simple, but often not easy.

Recently, we were working with a leadership team who faced just this
sort of dilemma.  Although the VP of Marketing in question had many
years of experience with the firm (regarded as one of the original
pioneers of the business), was generally well-liked, and had been
instrumental in the company’s early years of growth in developing
some of their critical legacy products – there was sustained
underperformance by the Executive and the choice was clear, the
negative impact of not acting was weighing on them individually and
collectively,  yet the decision was getting consistently deferred.  Why?

Complacency?  Reliance on the devil you know versus the one you
don’t?  A psychological predisposition that creates resistance to conflict,
resistance to change?  The stories we tell ourselves about all the
disastrous impacts to the organization – hurt morale, inability to
appropriately transfer knowledge, etc.?

After a period of personal growth and working through resistance to
conflict and change, our CEO set the VP free – to find an organization
more fitting to her core values and ways of being.  And afterward, the
entire leadership team was set free – feeling a tremendous decompression
– a lightness, an ease, that wasn’t previously there.  They also got
the gift of being able to perform at a higher level.

I invite you to consider:  when was the last time you did a talent
assessment of your primary team?  Have you fallen into any complacency?
How many of your direct reports are at least an 8 out of 10?  And if
you have those below an 8, what are you doing to help them improve?

While our experience has shown us difficult conversations often
get procrastinated – when they’re embraced – they enable a new day
– a resurrection if you will – of the best the team has to offer.

Sincerely, 

 
 
Interested in learning about the evolution of a new paradigm in business?

Check out our white paper, Strategy + Leadership 2.0, to learn how Stakeholder Strategy and Purposeful Leadership are shaping the era of Capitalism 2.0

 
Three fantastic articles with valuable insights for every leader:
 
1.  What Could Have Saved Nokia? – INSEAD Knowledge
2.  Bad to Great: The Path to Scaling Up Excellence – McKinsey
3.  Developing Mindful Leaders for the C-Suite – HBR
 
A brilliant TED Talk:
 
4.  Seth Godin – How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

Two intriguing articles:
 
5.  Can Management Get Us Out of this Economic Mess it has Created? – Forbes
6.  The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool – HBR
 
April’s recommended reading:
 
7.  Firms of Endearment
 

 
1.  WHAT COULD HAVE SAVED NOKIA?
     INSEAD Knowledge – Mar 2014
 
This article and the accompanying video interview with Nokia’s former CEO offer a profound example of what can happen to an organization with a crystal clear strategy that is executed on poorly.
 
Nokia lost the smartphone battle despite having half of the global market share in 2007.  The authors argue collective emotions within the company were a big part of the story.
 
The authors state, “It is often said that strategy is 5 percent thinking, 95 percent execution. We extend this by suggesting that strategy execution is 5 percent technical, and 95 percent people-related.”
 
 
 
2.  BAD TO GREAT: THE PATH TO SCALING UP EXCELLENCE
     McKinsey – Feb 2014
 
Scaling an organization’s performance can be one of the most challenging tasks leaders face.
 
“What drives leaders, keeps them up at night, and devours their workdays is the difficulty of spreading excellence to more people and more places.”
 
Leaders aiming to boost performance should start by eliminating negative behaviours – selfishness, nastiness, fear, laziness, dishonesty – before attempting to develop best practices.
 
“Leaders and employees do the right thing when they focus, not on their own needs and wants, but on the people affected by their actions.”
 
 
  
3.  DEVELOPING MINDFUL LEADERS FOR THE C-SUITE
     Bill George in HBR – Mar 2014
 
The use of mindful practices like meditation, introspection, and journaling in the C-Suite are taking hold at such successful enterprises as Google, Apple, and General Mills while contributing to the success of their success.
 
Executives in these organizations have recognized the power of taking time out to reflect on what’s most important in order to create ways to overcome difficult challenges.
 
As Bill George puts it, “It’s especially important that leaders with great responsibilities gain focus and clarity in making their most important decisions, creativity in transforming their enterprises, compassion for their customers and employees, and the courage to go their own way.”
 
 
 
4.  HOW TO GET YOUR IDEAS TO SPREAD
     Seth Godin’s TED Talk – Feb 2003
 
In a world of too many options and too little time, the obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff.
 
“For the first 15 years after sliced bread was available no one bought it, no one knew about it – it was a complete and total failure.  And the reason – until Wonder came along and figured out how to SPREAD THE IDEA of sliced bread, no one wanted it.”
 
In this remarkable TED Talk marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting people’s attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.
 
 
 
5.  CAN MANAGEMENT GET US OUT OF THIS ECONOMIC MESS?
     Steve Denning in Forbes – Mar 2014
 
“Can the leaders of the world’s most important organizations transform their management practices so that their organizations get on a path to growth and prosperity, instead of steady economic decline?”
 
In this powerful leadup article to the 2014 Drucker Forum Denning explores this pressing leadership challenge along with the shifting tides in business consciousness as explored in his conference prelogue – The Great Transformation: Managing Our Way to Prosperity
 
“Either the world will embark on a route towards long-term growth and prosperity, or we will manage our way to economic decline…the very coherence of our societies is at stake. Incremental changes won’t suffice.  What does it take to reshape management as an effective social technology…for transforming our institutions and organizations?”
 
 
 
6.  THE IRRESISTIBLE POWER OF STORYTELLING AS A STRATEGIC TOOL
     Harrison Monarth in HBR – Mar 2014     Back to top
 
In this short yet intriguing blog post the author provides insights on the use of strategic storytelling as a means of connecting, directing, and building powerful relationships with followers.
 
An oldy and a goody, Freytag’s Pyramid of storytelling structure is noted as having worked for thousands of years and having incredible relevance still today.
 
“A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts.  Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”
 
 
 
7.  FIRMS OF ENDEARMENT
     By Rajendra Sisodia, Jag Sheth, David Wolfe     Back to top
 
Firms of Endearment is a book about the new rules of business which are transforming organizations from the inside out.  Today’s greatest companies are fueled by passion and purpose, not cash.
 
They earn large profits by helping all thier stakeholders thrive: customers, investors, employees, partners, communities, and society.
 
These rare, authentic firms of endearment act in powerfully positive ways that stakeholders recognize, value, admire, and even love.
 
They make the world better by the way they do business-and the world responds.
 

We’re constantly curating helpful content, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to receive our daily posts!

 
Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download your PDF copy of our newly released white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0

New Perspectives: A Strategy + Leadership 2.0 Newsletter

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On behalf of Strateco Partners, welcome to the inaugural edition of our “New Perspectives” e-newsletter.

Each month in New Perspectives, we’ll be offering you resources, tools, and insights to help you grow your organization, develop your people and create a happy, productive, high functioning corporate culture.

As we move through the first month of Q1, we’re helping clients finish up their 2014 annual strategy planning.  A few of the more common problems we’re seeing are:

  • Gross margins declining – creating a risk of commoditization;
  • Competitive threats diluting the impact of their value propositions – creating a need to refine differentiation; and
  • Some misalignment around priorities and accountabilities – creating a sub-optimal performance landscape for leaders who desire dynamic growth.

 
These are our favourite problems to solve.  If you need any help or just want to chat through the issues, feel free to call or email us any time.

We hope you find New Perspectives helpful for your business, and as always we value your feedback and would enjoy hearing any comments you have on our first edition.

All the best from our team to yours,

 
 
PS – We’re constantly curating valuable content in service to our clients, so feel free to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to see our daily strategy and leadership posts!
 
 
This month’s edition of New Perspectives includes –

Four powerful articles:

1.  Turning Great Strategy Into Great Performance

2.  Sustainable Business: Where Our Moral Compass Meets the Bottom Line

3.  Why So Many Leadership Programs Ultimately Fail

4.  Storytelling that Moves People

A helpful TED Talk:

   5.  Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

An essential reading for every leader:

   6.  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Enjoy!
 

 
1.  TURNING GREAT STRATEGY INTO GREAT PERFORMANCE

   By Michael C. Mankins and Richard Steele
   Harvard Business Review, July-August 2005

The majority of business strategies deliver only a fraction of their intended value.  Why is this?

The answers cut across a spectrum from initial strategy development to ongoing strategy execution – with leadership providing a critical foundation that builds the culture necessary for great organizational performance.

This article provides seven simple yet highly effective rules for helping leaders stay focused and deliver superior business results:

     •  Keep it Simple, make it concrete.
     •  Debate assumptions, not forecasts.
     •  Use a rigorous framework, speak a common language.
     •  Discuss resource deployments early.
     •  Clearly identify priorities.
     •  Continuously monitor performance.
     •  Reward and develop execution capabilities.

2.  SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS: WHERE OUR MORAL COMPASS MEETS THE BOTTOM LINE

   By Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever)
   Huffington Post, October 8, 2013

Unilever CEO Paul Polman is renowned for his progressive approach to business leadership and being outspoken when it comes to the challenges of the current model of capitalism. 

Paul’s October 2013 article in the Huffington Post points out the serious problems he sees with our traditional business model that myopically focusses on short-term shareholder value or “quarterly capitalism” – and provides insight into the tenets for Capitalism 2.0 that promises long-term business success across a broad range of key stakeholders.

3.  WHY SO MANY LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS ULTIMATELY FAIL

   By Peter Bregman
   Harvard Business Review, July 10, 2013

Why do so many leadership development and executive coaching programs fail to get traction when it comes to having leaders fundamentally change their underlying behaviours?

Peter Bregman argues that it has little to do with what we know about leadership and more about how we internalize our leadership journey in practical and tangible ways. 

In this article Bregman provides helpful insights into two factors that help organizations close the gap between theory and application by:
 
     •  Integrating leadership development into the work itself, and
     •  Teaching leadership in such a way that requires emotional courage.

4.  STORYTELLING THAT MOVES PEOPLE

   By Robert McKee and Bronwyn Fryer
   Harvard Business Review, June 2003

Why should leaders be effective storytellers and what qualifies them as such?  Put simply – a leader’s persuasive influence and ability to inspire their vision in others are pivotal aspects to business success.

In this article Robert McKee, an award-winning writer and director who consults with CEOs, provides his thoughts on how leaders can more powerfully connect with others on deeply emotional levels by telling compelling stories to persuade – instead of relying on dry, traditional, PowerPoint decks that present a rationale case based on logic and intellectual reason.
 

 
5.  DRIVE: THE SURPRISING TRUTH ABOUT WHAT MOTIVATES US
 
   By Daniel Pink
   YouTube, Apr 2010
   Watch this incredible video now!
 
In this fast-paced and highly entertaining video, career analyst Daniel Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t seem to: the fact that traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.
 
Pink shares the counterintuitive results of two studies that reveal the inner workings of what influences our behaviour — and the half-truth of why money can’t buy satisfaction.

His insights help to illuminate the 3 most important factors that motivate employees today – Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose – and how they’re currently being used creatively in business to trigger, reward, and recognize outstanding performance.
 

 
6.  THE FIVE DYSFUNCTIONS OF A TEAM
  
   By Patrick M. Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, 2002)
   Check out this book on Amazon
 
In this best-selling business fable Patrick Lencioni explores the fundamental causes of organizational politics, leadership team failure, and how CEOs can navigate such complexities.
 
This gripping tale provides a simple yet profound reminder that effective leadership requires great courage in the face of adversity.  Lencioni highlights the following 5 major dysfunctions that lead to sub-par team performance – and how skillful leadership can be used to address each characteristic:
 
     1.  Absence of Trust
     2.  Fear of Conflict
     3.  Lack of Commitment
     4.  Avoidance of Accountability
     5.  Inattention to Results
 
Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download your PDF copy of our newly released white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0
 
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