I’ve just finished reading John Doerr’s book, Measure What Matters: OKRs - The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth, and it is full of really practical goal-setting tips and great stories from real companies like Intel, Google, and even a few smaller companies. What struck me throughout the book, though, is that the companies in many of these stories rely on spreadsheets, documents saved in company intranets, or even Post-it Notes hung up in their offices (and in one story, by the toilet) for communicating the goals. Using a spreadsheet or paper-based process for OKRs is like parking your Ferrari on a busy street under a tree on garbage day. Why would you risk ruining something so beautiful as a well-written goal with poor communication and accountability?
From a leadership perspective, there’s a real thirst for increasing leadership accountability. Executives have recently asked me various questions that linger over the concept of building team accountability to help them achieve their strategic plans while creating high performing teams:
“How do I build accountability in teams?”
“What else can I do to get people to do what we need them to do?”
“How can I hold a team member to be held accountable and still be seen as a good leader?”
"How do I balance leadership accountability and personal accountability when building a team?"
"Creating a culture of accountability is hard, how do I provide constructive feedback without being the bad guy?"
Building team accountability requires that we understand a few dynamics because it’s more complicated than we might recognize. It goes above and beyond the responsibility for the outcomes, which is obviously important, but effective leaders know that they need a culture of accountability in their teams that provide the inputs needed to achieve the expected team performance.
Sounds like a simple concept: Alignment. What makes this so hard to achieve? The fact is, if you are hiring the right people, you will have a lot of smart people on your team who disagree with each other. This is a good thing. Alignment doesn’t mean that everyone starts on the same page; if that were true, then you’d just have a bunch of robots running around who all think the same way and who never challenge your ideas or come up with anything creative, interesting, or groundbreaking.
Difference of opinion among your team members is a key ingredient in developing the right strategies for your team, the ones that have been analyzed from different angles and debated in your planning sessions. However, when the dust settles and the decision has been made, this is where alignment takes over from diversity of viewpoints as the key to your strategy’s success or failure.
- The creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities.
Porter argues that tactical improvements or operational efficiencies are not strategies but that the essence of strategy is to perform a different set of activities from that of your rivals. For many businesses, regardless of size, strategy work may get completed annually but there is a disconnect between strategy and performance. There have been many books and articles written on the topic of “Execution”. An Execution framework is critical to be certain, but outstanding execution will not rescue strategy that lacks focus or differentiation. To be successful, a company must master the three areas of Strategic Growth: Strategic Thinking, Execution Planning, and actually Doing the Work.
Written by Cindy Praeger and Eskinder Assefa
A fairly significant body of research now clearly shows that the reason why a number of mid-to-large companies face is not that their strategies were not sound, but because they were unable to create a culture of strategy execution to perform well on those otherwise sound strategies. Successful teams bridge the strategy to execution gap through Intelligent Work.
In a recent Annual Planning session, one of our clients asked us to help them review and renew their Winning Moves, the 3 year strategic growth initiatives to help you double you revenue. They wanted to make sure that their growth strategies were still powerful enough to drive growth over the next 3 years. We highly recommend reviewing your Winning Move strategies every year.
During good times, it is easy to neglect working on your Winning Moves. Then when growth begins to slow, we realize that we are already late to the game at developing new revenue growth moves. If you want consistent year over year growth, you must review and renew your 3 year strategic growth plan in a regular rhythm to continue to test assumptions and make adjustments to your plan.
It is best to only have a few Winning Moves. Otherwise, the team might be spread too thin as resources get allocated across too many initiatives, causing teams to inadvertently compete for some of the same resources. Competition for internal resources often causes negative stress and reduces team productivity, even to the extent of building silos.
I’d like to share our Winning Move Strategic Planning Process so that you can have an objective way to discuss, debate and agree on the best 2 or 3 ideas for growth. In order to sustain long-term growth rates, you need to be continually working on these business plans. Growth rates will continue to rise organically and your team culture will transform into one that is continually looking for the next the next source of revenue growth.
It is easy to confuse your strategy and your 3 year strategic plan. I have seen somany leaders tell me that they have a great strategy. Yet, when asked specifically what their strategy is, they have difficulty sharing the key strategic initiatives they are going to make - and when. Strategy and strategic moves should not be as complicated as we sometimes make it. This is the very reason that there is a strategy or execution debate. You must do both well to succeed, and you need the right rhythm to get it done.
Many unknowable things can happen between now and the beginning of 2021. One thing we do know is that when next year hits, you will need to hit the ground running on your company’s strategic plan. Whether you are in a position to capitalize on new opportunities or looking to survive cuts and turn the ship around, this could not be a more critical time for your business. Your planning process for 2021 may be the most important one you ever undertake.
Ever feel stuck working on your BHAG? Like you just can’t get the right words? You know that your BHAG is supposed to be measurable but also inspire the team; you know it should speak to the heart as well as the head. Maybe you’ve read our blogs or our BHAG Guide or checked out some of Jim Collins’ resources. If you are still feeling stuck, we have a tool that can help you have the right discussions to get to your BHAG.
Before you get in too deep to this discussion with your team, it is important to clarify for yourself and for them what the process of determining your BHAG is… and isn’t. This is an exercise to pick the right mountain to climb, not to create a perfect statement. Coming up with your BHAG is about going on the mission, not writing a mission statement; in other words, it is not a wordsmithing exercise. Your goal is to come up with your goal, not to write a beautiful sentence for your wall or website.
Like most other companies, we’ve made the decision to pivot our in-person conference to a virtual event. As we were planning for this new reality, we went back and forth over whether to make the event free or to charge for a portion of it. This was uncharted territory for our team, who have never put on a virtual event longer than a webinar. We knew we still wanted to keep the best elements of our in-person event - to provide a place for our Rhythm family to come together, to share ideas, to get real work done and to learn from each other while enjoying ourselves.
Ultimately, we decided to use the event to do the most good we can at this difficult time—to help our clients, friends and our community. We decided that instead of charging a registration fee for the virtual Breakthrough Conference, we’d make it optional for attendees to donate to our charity partner, Samaritan’s Feet. On top of that, Patrick Thean, our CEO, has decided to personally match all donations up to $12,500.